Silky smooth and sho nuf sexy Will Downing, the R&B, soul and jazz vocalist, songwriter and composer, fills the spotlight at “Still We Rise: Committed to Families & Communities through Service,” the eighth annual black-tie benefit gala for Pro
Will Downing performs Saturday for PLCCA’s annual gala By Theresa Fambro Hooks Silky smooth and sho nuf sexy Will Downing, the R&B, soul and jazz vocalist, songwriter and composer, fills the spotlight at “Still We Rise: Committed to Families & Communities through Service,” the eighth annual black-tie benefit gala for Proviso-Leyden Council for Community Action Inc. on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Chicago Hotel. Downing (A Love Supreme, The World is a Ghetto, All the Man You Need, Where is the Love?) has won a loyal audience of contemporary jazz and R&B fans with albums and concerts that showcase his rich baritone vocals and unique interpretations of R&B and pop classics. He’s released nine solo albums in a recording career that dates back to the early 80s. The fundraiser gets underway with a 6 p.m. reception, then dinner and the show at 9 p.m. NBC’s Marion Brooks and Daryl Hawks emcee and the Chicago Defender is listed among the corporate sponsors. Radio/television personality Bonnie DeShong is benefit chair. PLCCA, founded in 1968 by Bishop Claude Porter, is a private, non-profit organization in west suburban Maywood that provides social services to the residents of Cook County’s Proviso and Leyden Townships and the municipality of Norridge. David Quas is board chair. For tickets, call Claudette Harrell, (708) 450-3506, or visit www.plcca.org. Alumni Accolades! – A quartet of Windy City-ites who proudly call Jackson State University (Jackson, Miss.) “alma mater” receive high honors at “For the Love of Blues & Jazz,” a Valentine’s brunch, on noon Feb. 13 at Harambee House, 119th and Loomis, and sponsored by JSU’s Chicago Alumni Chapter. The four, Minnie Peggs, Earl Stewart, Robert Carr and Rev. Dr. Jon McCoy, are being cited “for contributions to the success of the chapter,” so says Dorothy Cobbs, a Jackson State loyalist. Proceeds from the $50 per ticket benefit will provide scholarships for deserving Chicago area students currently enrolled at JSU and inneed of funds to complete their college education. An afternoon highlight: entertainment by Ms. Diva De & Gibbs. Sharion Smith is chapter president; Carolyn Curry and Carolyn Palmer, brunch chairs; and Ch. 9’s Allison Payne will emcee. For tickets, call (773) 268-7727. Chocolate Chip – Robyn Rice-Foster, who won the coveted Amateur Chocolate Recipe Award for her Southern Sweet Potato Milk Chocolate Truffles at the first-ever Chocolate Bliss Recipe Challenge and owner of La Parisianne du Chocolat, will be at Tracye Dee’s WineStyles South Loop store, 1240 S. Michigan, on Feb. 11., 6 p.m. Robyn will be there to launch her Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Truffle Cookies and Choc≤ Toffee Caramel Popcorn, which will be available at WineStyles. As featured in December’s Essence, Robyn, a chocolatiere studying to be a wine sommelier, creates luscious truffles with a choice of white, milk and dark chocolate with a variety of ganache fillings made with fresh fruit, purees, spices and liqueurs guaranteed to leave customers with a “layered and lingering sensual sensation” with no additives or preservatives – and all made the French Artesian way, by hand! Tracye sells exclusive wines from around the world in her “wine cellar,” offering reds and whites, arranged by style and creating custom gift baskets for corporate events, weddings and birthdays. Stop by and enjoy your chocolate with your favorite vino! Attn: Jazz Junkies! – Milton Suggs, featured artist for Music Monday at eta, not only plays bass, alto sax and drums but he also studied piano under the tutelage of his godfather, renowned jazz pianist Willie Pickens and is an accomplished vocalist who invoked the spirit of the late, great Joe Williams when he performed at the Hyde Park Jazz Festival. All that and he’s still in his 20s! Suggs has shared the stage with such notables as Wycliffe Gordon, Phil Woods, Sean Jones andWynton Marsalis, and currently, he is performing ‘round town, preparing to record an album of original compositions. A Columbia College Chicago grad where he performed as a jazz pianist and vocalist, he has a master’s in Jazz Studies from DePaul Univ. Check him out Monday, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. at eta Square, 76th and S. Chicago. Hosts: Sue Conway and Cliff Kelley. Call (773) 752-3955. Newsy Names – Congrats to Everett Rand, of Midway Wholesalers fame, on being elected to the presidency of the Illinois Restaurant Association … Hal-le-lu-yer! Milton Marshall, retired police officer, is at home after a brief hospital stay and getting lots of TLC from his ever-lovin’Gwen …Nicole Jones (aka “The Shoe Professa”), founder of Sensual Steps Shoe Salon and Pillar of Slippers, appears on ABCTV’s reality show, Shark Tank, on Friday, 8 p.m., to present her new venture to the “sharks” who will decide on the spot if they will invest in her business. Tune in!…Ooops! Dr. Thomas Lightfoot, retired dentist, is recovering from two broken arms after a fall from a ladder in his E. Drexel Square residence …Prof. Timuel Black, noted author and historian, is off to the Netherlands with his wife, Zenobia Black, to address an African American Heritage commemoration at The Hague … Happy b’day to Gil Walker, Kelly Rooks and Wallace “Gator” Bradley, who’ll celebrate together Thursday at Ken Bedford’s monthly Afterwork Stepper’s Set at Alhambra Palace featuring Antone (aka “Barry White”); and to Oprah Winfrey, Atty. Natasha Robinson, Warner Saunders, Jacqueline Marshall, Gus Cage, Vivian Durham, Rosie Caldwell, Jim Hinton and Renee Bradford. And finally, Mrs. Hosea Peeples, born Feb. 3, 1900 in Holcomb, Miss., celebrates her 111th year on Sunday at the 10 a.m. service at Grant Memorial AME Church where she’s been an active member for all of 62 years! Whoa! Haitian Focus! – Mark your calendar (or Blackberry or whatever…) for Feb. 17 when National Association of Black Journalists Chicago chapter focuses on media coverage of earthquake-devastated Haiti at its monthly meeting. You now know “the what” and “the when.” Just watch this space for “the where!” … Clergy from across the city, politicians (including Mayor Daley and Gov. Quinn) and acclaimed jazz, R&B, poetry and gospel artists are coming together for “Hope for Haiti,” a free benefit concert and telethon, on Monday, 7 p.m., at House of Hope, 752 E. 114th St. Confirmed: actor/rapper Common on behalf of the Common Ground Foundation, Donald Lawrence & Co., Shirley Caesar, Marvin Sapp, George Wilborn, Karen Clark Sheard, J. Ivy, Tarrey Torae, Steve Cole, Byron Cage, and Dr. Bobby Jones. We’re all urged to come out and give needed support to our Haitian brothers and sisters!