Lionel Hosts A Party For His Grandmother - Jet '93 May 10, 2006 20:26:28 GMT -5
Post by HitsvilleSoul on May 10, 2006 20:26:28 GMT -5
Richie hosts 100th birthday party in Tuskegee for his grandmother Adelaide Foster - singer Lionel Richie
Jet, March 8, 1993
Although he had forsaken his circle of show biz friends to produce the first album under his new recording contract with Mercury Records, superstar singer and songwriter Lionel Ritchie left a music studio in Los Angeles for a trek to Tuskegee, Ala., where he hosted a birthday party for his maternal grandmother, Mrs. Adelaide Towson Foster, who was celebrating her 100th birthday.
Richie, who returned to the entertainment scene last summer with a career retrospective album, Back To Front, joined his family and more than 600 invited guests to the centennial celebration at the Tuskegee Municipal Complex.
Mayor Johnny Ford, observing that the Alabama city was celebrating it sesquicentennial birthday, proclaimed January 23 as "Adelaide Towson Foster Day In Tuskegee" in recognition of the 1912 Fisk University graduate who began her career as a music instructor 81 years ago at the school founded by family friend Booker T. Washington.
Richie was reverent in his tribute to his grandmother, a classical pianist who shared her love of music with children as a piano teacher and with the community as church organist at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church for over 40 years as well as playing piano for the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital at their evening church services for 34 years.
"If I had known that I would one day play the piano as a profession along with my singing and writing songs, I would have taken grandma's advice and studied the piano instead of a saxophone," Richie allowed. "But I did take from her the best advice I ever had," he said.
Recalling the time when he had experienced some success as an entertainer and returned to his Tuskegee home, Richie said his grandmother observed him pacing the floor in her living room and asked why he was doing that.
"I'm trying to figure out my next move," he responded and recreated the dialogue:
Grandmother Foster: "Did you come to Tuskegee to get with the Commodores?"
Grandmother Foster: "Did you call Kenny Rogers on the phone and tell him that you have a song?"
Grandmother Foster: "Did you call Diana Ross?" Richie: "No."
Grandmother Foster: "Then why are you trying to figure out what to do. Why don't you get a good night 's sleep. God has the answer for you. Put your trust in God."
It was against that background that Richie led the tribute to Mrs. Foster along with the other immediate family members. They are her three daughters: Alberta (Richie), Adelaide (Miller) and Volenderver (Dixson). The extended family includes six grandchildren: Lionel Richie, Deborah Richie, Gregory Dixson, Denise Dixson, John Dixson, Norma Gail Morris and three great-grandchildren: Robyn Morris, Russell Morris and Nicole Richie, the singer's 11-year-old daughter who did not make the trip with him.
In the atmosphere of piety and praise, the 100-year-old Mrs. Foster, who remains spry and active, thanked the centennial celebrants, most of whom were retired professionals associated with Tuskegee University, church, and community groups.