Bonnie's Pride and Joy

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on February 22, 1991 No comments
By Richard Harrington

In a private ceremony yesterday in New York City, eight pioneer rhythm-and-blues artists received a total of $130,000 in grants from the Washington-based Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Maxine Brown, Al Hibbler, Albert King, Jimmy McCracklin, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Moore, the Five Keys and the Spaniels received Pioneer Awards with the honoraria from the nonprofit foundation, funded by major grants from Atlantic Records and Warner Communications. The foundation is charged with fostering wider recognition, financial support and historic preservation of the art form. Ruth Brown, Bonnie Raitt and Whitney Houston were among the presenters in ceremonies at Tatou, a New York restaurant. Mayor David Dinkins declared yesterday “Rhythm and Blues Day” in New York.

Singer Maxine Brown (Maxine Ella Brown) receives her Pioneer Award from singers Bonnie Raitt (Bonnie Lynn Raitt) and Ruth Brown (Ruth Alston Brown) during the 1990-91 R&B Foundation Pioneer Awards at Tatou in New York, NY on February 21, 1991
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Bonnie Raitt and Ruth Brown at the 1990-91 R&B Foundation Pioneer Awards at Tatou in New York, NY on February 21, 1991
Jimmy McCracklin (James David Walker, Jr.), Ray Benson (Ray Benson Seifert) and Bonnie Raitt (Bonnie Lynn Raitt) poses for photos during the 1990-91 R&B Foundation Pioneer Awards at Tatou in New York, NY on February 21, 1991

According to acting executive director Suzan Jenkins, the foundation has distributed $423,000 to early R&B artists in the past year, most of it for medical or personal help (and some for funeral expenses). The largest amount, $125,000, was channeled through the foundation to Mary Wells after it was discovered the one-time Motown star had throat cancer. Wells recently finished chemotherapy, and doctors say there are no signs of the cancer’s return.

The Rhythm and Blues Foundation was established in 1988 by a $1.5 million grant from Atlantic Records, the interest from which funds the annual Pioneer Awards. Other labels, particularly those that benefited from their R&B artists, were approached to make donations, but so far have not followed Atlantic’s lead, though the label’s parent corporation, Warner Communications, donates $300,000 a year for operating expenses. Last night’s ceremony was sponsored by Sony Music (formerly CBS Records).

While the foundation has had little luck in finding a health plan for early R&B artists, it does have several long-term projects, notably the establishment of a national R&B archive at the Smithsonian Institution and issuance of comprehensive music anthologies from the early R&B years. At last night’s program, the foundation presented a Legend Award to its chairman, Ray Charles. Songwriter Doc Pomus, who has been hospitalized for several months, received a Pioneer Award, and there were posthumous awards to U.S. Rep. Mickey Leland and his chief of staff, Patrice Johnson, for their support of the foundation.

Source: © Copyright The Washington Post
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We are rocked to the core to hear of the passing of our dear friend, bandmate and musical genius, Mike Finnigan. He fought his long illness with the same fearlessness and ferocity he brought to every part of his life. Our deepest condolences go out to Candy, Kelly, Bridget and all his family.

Mike was one of the most powerful, virtuosic soul/gospel/blues singers and Hammond B3 players you’ll ever be blessed to hear. Respected and emulated by musicians the world over, his legacy of staggering
performances across his 60+ years career will stand the test of time. He stopped our show nearly every night. There was simply no one like him.

He was whipsmart, incredibly articulate and funny as hell. He was as devoted to his beloved family and friends as he was to helping so many struggling to get and stay sober. He and his wife Candy were instrumental in my own sobriety and I will be forever grateful.

Rest in peace, dear Mike. I know you’ll be shaking that Heavenly Choir to new heights as only you can do.

Here’s a clip from our 2013 Slipstream tour, where he tore up the place every night with Ray Charles’ iconic “I’ve Got News for You.”
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