Wishing a very happy 61st birthday to Jennifer Holliday – and thanks for that Palm Springs memory!
Back in 2018, I was in Palm Springs for a week hanging out with some of my best guy friends for my birthday week.
The week was highlighted by an intimate concert followed by a meet and greet the magnificent Jennifer Holliday at the gay bar QuadZ. It used to be called Spurline. Different name but same terrific place.
My friends and I had been there on the Friday night and it was announced that Miss Holliday, in town for a Saturday night concert, would be stopping by on Sunday night to sing a few songs. My friend Mark and I decided to return and we made friends with a couple who had a front table in the absolutely packed establishment.
Sure enough, Effie herself arrived pretty much on time and made clear to those who thought it would be a drag queen performing: “Honey, they gonna know the truth. Hand me a microphone!”
She belted out a handful of songs including I Am Changing andAnd I’m Tellin’ You I’m Not Going.
She gave us her all and we were delirious. I think I may have cried at one point it was all just so unbelievable and delicious.
Miss Holliday thanked all of us from the small stage and said: “The gay community allowed me to sing when I didn’t have any hits … because of this community, we’ve been able to survive and live and keep our dignity. … I’m so glad that you all love me. I always want to be a part of your lives. Thank you for keeping my name in your hearts all these years.”
This was a night none of us who were there would ever forget.
Today, the Tony winner and Grammy winner, who starred in both Dreamgirls and The Color Purple on Broadway, turns 61.
Below is her legendary performance at the 1982 Tony Awards. Happy birthday to the original Effie!