My excitement began with an email invitation from Stephanie Gold (Gloria Gaynor's manager) to meet them personally and attend a private event concert on Friday night. I inquired about formal/informal attire, and Stephanie replied that it was 1970s -1980s party theme, and we were to dress accordingly.
We four local contributor's to Gloria Gaynor's (soon to be released) inspirational book, We Will Survive, had only days to hit the thrift shops and reduced racks at local department stores to find appropriate disco outfits and accessories.
What a laugh we all had when we saw one another's costumes. We were a sight to behold with our bangles and jangles. We arrived an hour early and paraded into The Hyatt Regency Hotel lobby looking like... well as one of the young female hotel employees said when she saw us, "Oh, painted ladies."
Alice Muschany, Linda O'Connell, Gloria Gaynor, Lynn Obermoeller, Cathi Lamarche
Gloria Gaynor and Stephanie Gold came to greet us. You know how you have only one chance to make a first impression? Well we certainly did! I can only imagine what they thought about us as we all sized one another up.
I was quite impressed with the informal and friendly manner of both women. They led us to the pent house lounge. We sat on a sofa and overstuffed chairs, and after the formalities of introducing ourselves and discussing our individual stories, we relaxed and chatted like old friends. Ms. Gaynor put us all at ease as she shared intimate details about her life—which we could all relate to. She shared confidences about some of the other stories in her new book, details about the anthology's promotion, and she talked about actors and actresses you'd all recognize by name, including Oprah. Time flew as we shared histories, ideas, and opinions on relationships... and men. Oh yes we did! We laughed a lot as we made connections and accepted her generous gifts of autographed CDs and photos.
Ms. Gaynor is such a down-to-earth, spiritual, fun woman. She's someone you'd want to share a cup of peach tea with. Well, not the same cup! Each of us could feel her genuine spirit. It was as if she were an old friend. When Lynn presented her with homemade gooey butter cake, she looked into the gift bag and cracked us up when she said, "Oh my, this is going to be my last supper!"
Years ago, the uplifting lyrics to her song, I Will Survive, carried me through some tough times. When Gloria Gaynor spoke to us in person in that lounge, she spoke to the part of our hearts and souls where her voice and lyrics have been imbedded for decades. She touched us deeply.
Stephanie Gold is petite and mighty, unpretentious, the most energetic and real New "Yorkeh" I have "eveh" met. She has a passion for animals that resonated with all of us. She is not only a manager, it is obvious that she is Ms. G's dedicated, true friend.
She took us behind the scenes, into the green room, and back stage. Gloria said that she has been and done many things in her life, but on Friday night, she was experiencing a first; she was going to be someone's "birthday present." Can you imagine your husband hiring your most favorite singer to perform at your fiftieth birthday party? It was an awesome party.
Gloria Gaynor's energy level on stage surpassed that of any of today's rock stars. Her concert was incredible. That woman can get down! And her voice! And her band! And the duets! Oh, it was a glorious and memorable night, not only for the birthday girl, but for the four old gals whose stories Ms. Gaynor selected to include in her book.
As I watched her prance across that stage, listened to her belt out songs, and observed how she connected with her audience and fans, I stood on the dimly lit dance floor and sent up a humble prayer of thanks for such a wonderful and unexpected opportunity.
Then, Cathi and I darted to the ladies room. We were walking back through the lobby when we heard the lyrics, "At first I was afraid, I was petrified..." We RAN in our clodhopper shoes and made it back into the reception hall in time to raise our hands and voices and join the party and the birthday girl in singing our anthem, I Will Survive!
This could be the beginning of something really big...and that is all I am going to say. I wish Ms. Gaynor success beyond compare with her anthology, WeWill Survive based on her # 1 hit song, I Will Survive.
Shh! Anna Mae Bullock, aka Tina Turner, contributed a celebrity quote.
Watch out world, here we come!