In the epic thirty-year career of Vanessa Williams, one might forget the New York native is living Black History. Exactly three decades ago she was Miss America 1984 — earning the crown in Atlantic City, blocks away from the Caesars Hotel and Casino, which is where she brought love and soul to the Valentine's Day audience this past weekend. Williams told the crowd, "It all started here thirty years ago. You've been with me from the very beginning, the ups and downs." Vanessa was the first Black woman to win Miss America and famously stripped of the crown after nude photos of her surfaced — something that would be a non-issue in 2014.
But how is this for a comeback? Eleven Grammy nominations, three Emmy nominations, six million records sold and the song she performed from the Pocahontas soundtrack, "Colors of the Wind," won the Academy Award for Best original Song in 1995. It's clear, Vanessa Williams is a survivor in the entertainment industry.
In the 90-minute set Williams took the audience on the full journey of her illustrious career. She opened with 2009's "The Real Thing," which was penned by Stevie Wonder. We traveled back to 1988 with "Dreamin'," a number one R&B hit from her first album. Williams beautifully sang her classic hit "Love Is,” a number three Billboard Hot 100 hit in 1993 and other favorites continued with "The Comfort Zone," "The Sweetest Days" and of course “Colors of the Wind." One of the best moments of the night was when Broadway extraordinaire Darius de Haas joined Miss V on stage for a melody of songs such as "Just Friends" and Billy Preston's "With you, I'm Born Again." But Darius de Haas made the audience gasp and swoon when his vocal chops annihilated "My Funny Valentine" in honor of Valentine's Day. Darius de Haas is a name to Google.
Vanessa got the lovers misty-eyed with the legendary power ballad "Save the Best For Last" (famously rejected by Whitney Houston) and the diva received a well-deserved standing ovation. For the encore, Vanessa closed with the Latin-inspired "Betcha Never."
The only disappointment? Vanessa didn't sing and rap the R&B, camp classic "The Right Stuff"! Before Vanessa was the queen of love she was channeling Janet Jackson and telling the boys, "I don't wanna miss out on the right stuff!"
Three wardrobe changes in form-fitting red and pink gowns revealed Williams to be an ageless beauty. She possessed a Lena Horne vibe with surprising big notes and signature class. Her magical and enchanting stage presence proves this diva is more than just one of the original beauty queens. Vanessa Williams is always and forever “the right stuff.”
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(Photo: Paul Marotta/Getty Images)