2008 Wisdom Awards Celebration

Carmen de Lavallade accepts her
Wisdom Award
"On April 18, 2008, the National Visionary Leadership Project paid tribute to four National Visionaries for their contributions to the performing arts during the 2008 Wisdom Awards Celebration at the Mutual of America building in New York City. The honorees were: dancer/choreographer Carmen de Lavallade ; Grammy-winning gospel and soul music recording artist Cissy Houston; composer, arranger, record and film producer, Quincy Jones and actress and chanteuse, Eartha Kitt.

To celebrate the legacy of each honoree, the magical evening included performances by specially-selected artists from the honoree's field. Renee Robinson , now in her twenty-seventh year with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, performed a dance choreographed by Carmen de Lavallade called "Sweet Bitter Love."   Twelve year-old Melissa Hanson , a protégé of honoree Cissy Houston, sang "Wind Beneath my Wings" to honor her mentor. Trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire and his jazz quintet performed in tribute to Quincy Jones. And singer Dee Daniels , whose versatility and range have earned her international acclaim, performed "A Song for You" in appreciation of Eartha Kitt.

Eartha Kitt speaks with a student from the
Schomburg Junior Scholars Program
In addition, the honorees shared their time with high school students at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem. Hosted by the Schomburg Center Junior Scholars Program, these "Master Classes" gave students an opportunity to ask questions and discuss current events with these living legends.

Proceeds from the event will help NVLP continue to build our historic archive of Visionary interviews and develop educational programming, such as multimedia lesson plans for classrooms across the country.