I have been writing about Sheryl Lee Ralph's "Divas Simply Singing" special evening of entertainment to raise funds in the fight against HIV/AIDS for more than a decade. Over the years, each year, has been powerful, emotional and inspiring with Divas from all walks of life lending their awesome voices to challenge the Southern California area to stand up and be counted in the fight against this life-taking epidemic. This year, I am writing about this very special event early, to make everyone aware that it is coming, so that everyone might
Attend this very special fundraiser.
The HIV/AIDS numbers are up in the African American community across America especially among women. Our estimated number of new HIV infections leaves every other ethnicity in America in the dust by a long shot. According to the Federal Government's "Center of Disease Control and Prevention" in the United States, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is a health crisis for African Americans. At all stages of HIV/AIDS-from infection with HIV to death with AIDS-Blacks (African Americans) are disproportionately affected compared with members of other races and ethnicities. Here is what the Center's 2005 HIV/AIDS statistics report:
- According to the 2000 census, Blacks make up approximately 13% of the US population. However, in 2005, Blacks accounted for 18,121 (49%) of the estimated 37,331 new HIV/AIDS diagnoses in the United States in the 33 states with long-term, confidential name-based HIV reporting.
- Of all Black men living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was sexual contact with other men, followed by injection drug use and high-risk heterosexual contact.
- Of all Black women living with HIV/AIDS, the primary transmission category was high-risk heterosexual contact, followed by injection drug use.
- Of the estimated 141 infants perinatally infected with HIV, 91 (65%) were Black (CDC, HIV/AIDS Reporting System, unpublished data, December 2006).
- Of the estimated 18,849 people under the age of 25 whose diagnosis of HIV/AIDS was made during 2001-2004 in the 33 states with HIV reporting, 11,554 (61%) were Black.
That was in 2005. In 2008, three years later, the estimated numbers are reaching pandemic levels. "What will it take?" says Ms. Ralph. "Well, we are going to keep right on singing-raising our voices, keep right on praying and standup to this disease."
This year, Divas Simply Singing, has a line-up of women so powerful in voice that I cannot shut up about it-because, I well know after attending this special event for 10 years, when these Diva's up close and personal come together, heaven and earth moves, collectively from their voices. They truly show out. The magic that is created in one evening of song and entertainment, committed to HIV/AID awareness and prevention is like no other show on this planet. It is simply just beautiful, and elegant. Just to name a few Diva's committed to perform this year is Patti Austin, Siedah Garrett, Miki Howard, and Ms. Patti Labelle. Jenifer Lewis and Loretta Devine are regular Divas that perform every year receiving standing ovations. There are many more performers scheduled to perform, and of course, the original Diva from Dream Girls, Sheryl Lee Ralph performs. Ralph is calling this year's Divas "the battle between the Patties" meaning Patti Austin and Patti Labelle.
Usually, Divas is held at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles. This year there is a new location at the Wilshire Theatre Beverly Hills, located at 8440 Wilshire Blvd in Beverly Hills. Proceeds will benefit the Women Alive Coalition (WAC). WAC is a national treatment focus nonprofit organization, located in Los Angeles by and for women living with HIV/AIDS. The organization's principal initiative is to reduce the number of HIV acquisitions among women of color, provide culturally relevant HIV care and treatment and prevention services, advocacy, and to influence public policy specific to women living with HIV and/or affected by HIV.
The date for this special evening of song is October 11, 2008. You can purchase your tickets on line. Go to www.divasimplysinging.com. If you are a Patti Labelle or a Patti Austin fan, do not miss them on this up close and personal evening of song. This invitation is extended to everyone to step up and step out in the fight against HIV/AIDS.