Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball

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Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball
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"Young'uns" recite Pearl Cleage's poem We Speak Your Name to the "Legends" (2005)

Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball was a three-day celebration held by Oprah Winfrey honoring twenty-five African American women in art, entertainment, and civil rights.

The celebration included a luncheon, white-tie ball, and gospel brunch. On May 22, 2006, a year after the celebration, a one-hour program about the weekend aired on ABC. It included celebrity interviews and behind-the-scenes moments.[1]

The 25 women included Maya Angelou, Shirley Caesar, Diahann Carroll, Elizabeth Catlett, Ruby Dee, Katherine Dunham, Roberta Flack, Aretha Franklin, Nikki Giovanni, Dorothy Height, Lena Horne, Coretta Scott King, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Toni Morrison, Rosa Parks, Leontyne Price, Della Reese, Diana Ross, Naomi Sims, Tina Turner, Cicely Tyson, Alice Walker, Dionne Warwick, and Nancy Wilson.[1]

Legends luncheon[edit]

ABC advertised its television program about this event by describing the luncheon as follows:

The historic weekend began Friday with a private luncheon at [Winfrey]'s Montecito home where the "legends" were greeted by the "young'uns" -- acclaimed stars, including Alicia Keys, Ashanti, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Mary J. Blige, Brandy, Naomi Campbell, Mariah Carey, Natalie Cole, Kimberly Elise, Missy Elliott, Tyra Banks, Iman, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Debbie Allen and Alfre Woodard, among others. Throughout the weekend, the "young'uns" paid homage to the "legends" for their great contributions. World-renowned event planner Colin Cowie attended to every detail, and Grammy Award-winner John Legend performed his hit song, "Ordinary People."[1]

At the end of the luncheon, Winfrey surprised her guests with a parting gift. The "legends" received diamond drop earrings and the "young'uns" received diamond hoop earrings.[citation needed]

White-tie ball[edit]

ABC advertised its television program about this event by describing the ball as follows:

On Saturday night, it was an elegant white-tie Legends Ball with notable guests, including Sidney Poitier, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Dr.Rudolph.Kermit King from The Bahamas, Usher, Barbra Streisand, James Brolin, Lionel Richie, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Diane Sawyer, Mike Nichols, Maria Shriver, Chris Tucker, Barbara Walters, Quincy Jones, Spike Lee, Senator Barack Obama and Tyler Perry, among many others.[1]

Sunday brunch[edit]

ABC advertised its television program about this event by describing the brunch as follows:

The finale of the Legends weekend was Sunday's exuberant gospel brunch with spontaneous performances by Patti LaBelle, Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick and Chaka Khan.[1]

No-shows/Omitted Women[edit]

People who might have been there but were not included Whoopi Goldberg, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Dr. Mae Jemison, Toni Braxton, Lauryn Hill, Eartha Kitt, Vanessa L. Williams and Beyoncé. Franklin's absence was probably the most surprising to many followed by Goldberg's and Braxton's. Winfrey's The Color Purple co-star Goldberg was the only African American actress to be nominated for an Academy Award more than once, and the first African American actress to win one since Hattie McDaniel. Dr. Mae Jamison was the first black woman in space. The absence of Houston was not a surprise to many, because of her drug battle around that time. Toni Braxton at the time held the record for having the biggest-selling single by a female artist in the United States as well as becoming the first African American performer in Las Vegas to have her act enter the top ten Vegas shows charting, and being the first and only African American to star in a Disney musical on Broadway for her role as Belle in Beauty and the Beast. Hill was both the first woman to receive 10 Grammy nominations in one year and first to win 5 in one night. Williams was the first African American Miss America. It has been said[who?] that Winfrey mentioned Franklin and Beyoncé's absences were due to scheduling conflicts.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Oprah Winfrey's Legends Ball". ABC.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-07. 

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