By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
The HBCUs elite were in the spotlight in the nation’s capital for the DC Metro HBCU Alumni Alliance’s third annual Alumni Black Tie Gala at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Not only was this an evening to honor the Historically Black College Alumni who have made significant in the community there was a generational bonding as graduates from more than 40 HBCU alumni associations in the D.M.V. shared their stories on how life has changed on campuses around the country since their undergraduate days.
Madelyne Woods, from D.C.’s Majic 102.3 FM was the Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening. After opening the evening with adult beverages that were named after the four HBCU athletic conferences, Woods handled the formal program which honored this year’s recipients. The former BET News anchor deftly moved the event along while conveniently mentioning Howard University, her alma mater, colorfully during a ceremony that lasted approximately 40 minutes.
The event featured a performance by the legendary R&B/early neo-soul group Loose Ends who electrified the crowd and brought the entire room to the dance floor. Songstress Jane Eugene brought the group on stage and captivated the audience with a voice that still is rich in tone.
Loose Ends was one of the top British dance and urban contemporary trios of the1980’s. Eugene, Steve Nichol, and Carl McIntosh formed the group in 1980 and by 1981 the trio signed their first recording contract and began to establish themselves as a popular R&B group on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean by the mid-80’s. In 1986, Zagora was released by MCA Records and it became their first platinum-selling album with five singles, including their second straight number one hit: “Slow Down.”
After 35 years this group, led by Eugene, made its first of several fall appearances in the D.M.V. with this one-hour performance downtown to celebrate HBCUs. Despite not having a full sound check, Eugene’s voice created an atmosphere of urban elegance for over 500 people who attended.
The most significant announcement of the evening was the formal relationship between the Atlanta and DC Metro HBCU Alliance Chapters. The two groups have always been inseparably linked especially since each year they stage two of the largest 5K runs in the United States to commemorate HBCU alumni weekend. Those two groups are now collaborating to increase its visibility and awareness while continuing to raise money for the individual associations to help their institutions.