Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

In Commentary, HOME, LIFE by Sam Prance

I have no shame in saying that I am one of those girls who uses my hairbrush as a microphone while prancing around in my t-shirt and knickers like Carrie in that closing scene of Sex and the City. There are very few songs, however, that have me reaching for my hairbrush, spoon, remote control [insert other object here] to sing. Chaka Khan’s I’m Every Woman, LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade, The Spice Girls’ Wannabe and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody make up my ultimate collection, my greatest hits if you like. I know these songs word by word, pitch by pitch and pause by pause. Little did I expect this summer to come face to face with some of the women who spurred these great songs, let alone work with them.

It all began with my weekly call to a music events producer who has become a great friend of mine and honouree godfather. What should have been our usual call about that week’s episode of Homeland, ended up with him inviting me and my best friend ‘B’ to New York to assist on ‘The Apollo Spring Gala – Chaka Khan Show’ he was producing. Just casual day to day stuff – right?

After spending 36 hours in the city and shopping more than our credit cards would allow – the morning of rehearsals came. As everyone in the green room sat calmly typing away on their MacBook’s, drinking their coffee or tucking into their bagels…I was freaking out. The spectacular assortment of legendary female singers that would be gracing the stage of the Apollo to do their sound checks was almost too much for me to bear. Even now, as I write this it still seems unreal to me that Mary J Blige, Erykah Badu, Jennifer Holiday, would all be together in the same show as Chaka Khan – a show which I was working on!

apst11_zpseca76f35But the icing on the pre-Chaka Khan cake was Lady Marmalade chanteuse, Patti LaBelle – the woman who had me proudly tell my teacher at the tender age of seven, that I knew the lyrics to a French song as I sang at the top of my lungs: ‘voulez-vous coucher avec moi, ce soir’. I was teamed up with my colleague Gilly to assist her and her team while they were at the Gala and before I knew it I was next to Gilly watching Ms LaBelle walk gracefully through the stage door. A rush of butterflies swooned in my tummy – I was here in New York, at the historical Apollo Theatre, looking at Patti LaBelle. I didn’t have time to worry about what to say, she spoke first, commenting on how long my legs are – it was a lovely compliment and started a surprisingly casual conversation. Other celebrity exchanges such as this followed, along with sound checks galore – soon everything was set in place for the show and meeting Chaka the next day.

Show day. Time to act professionally and banish my inner crazed fan. In the midst of sharing a packet of chocolate Hobnobs with Alexandra Burke – the call came through on our production radio that Chaka was in the building! A large group of people walked through the green room towards her dressing room, and there at the back of the group was Chaka, dressed head to toe in black, heeled boots so high they should technically be stilts, deep red big hair and an aura that commanded you to look at her. She was flawless and, before I knew it, Gilly’s voice came through on the radio…Chaka needed us to do something. This was it, my moment to meet her was here, I bit my lip nervously as I took the steps two at a time. Then I stood in the doorway of Chaka’s dressing room, starring at the now tiny woman (having removed her stilt like boots) with awe! As she handed over the gift-wrapped baskets she wanted us to deliver to other acts, I mustered up the courage to speak and asked her if she had everything she needed. She smiled sincerely and put her warm, soft hand on top of mine, she said in her gentle, smooth like galaxy voice ‘everything is just perfect honey, thank you. We’re all going to have such a great night!’

chaka_khan_apolloWith a few minutes to spare before the curtain went up, B and I changed and just as we were discussing the craziness of the past few days and how nothing could surpass this – I looked up and there stood Sarah Jessica Parker dressed in a gorgeous navy and white striped, 50s style dress. ‘Hi’ she said and smiled at us, ‘Could you tell me where the nearest restroom is?’…in unison B and I say ‘first door around the corner’, using my shoe in my had, which I have yet to put on to guide her. She smiles that familiar smile we all know and love and says ‘Thank you…and I love your shoes’.

I guess I was wrong…it just got better.

Binky Boo

Due to work-related reasons Binky Boo cannot reveal her real name or profession. However, she can reveal some info about herself. Her favourite tv show is Sex and the City and she can recite The Little Mermaid word for word. She is convinced that in a past life she was an Italian chef. Oh and one day she will own a cocker spaniel named Gatsby.

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