R&B Divas Shirley Murdoch and Cheryl Pepsii Riley Perform for Packed House at Birmingham Museum of Art
Birmingham, AL – Earlier this week the Birmingham City Council treated over 600 guests to an electrifying concert featuring R&B divas Shirley Murdoch and Cheryl Pepsii Riley at the Birmingham Museum of Art to kick-off the 75th Annual McDonald’s Magic City Classic; one of the largest HBCU football games in the nation.
Councilor Shelia Tyson pointed out to the crowd that people from across the country would be in town for the football game and other activities but said the City Council liked to kick-off the week of activities giving back to the community they serve. She said Shirley Murdoch and Cheryl Pepsii Riley have a huge fan base in Birmingham so they were the perfect artists to bring the community out.
Performing with her husband Dale DeGroat singing background and on keyboards, Shirley Murdoch took the audience on a journey with her powerful voice and unique blend of jazz scatting and church runs. The Ohio native and star of several gospel stage plays even held a little church, singing a few of her original gospel tunes. The crowd continued their toe-tapping and testifying when the Stellar and Dove Award nominated singer belted her 1986 R&B hit single “As We Lay”.
Cheryl Pepsii Riley closed the show with raucous mixture of R&B, rock, jazz and blues covers. Accompanied by Birmingham’s own, Earnest Echols on keyboards, the native New Yorker kicked off her heels to perform a flawless rendition of the Ike and Tina Turner classic “Rolling Down the River,” which drew audience participation as fans joined her at the stage dancing as her ensemble of Ikettes. A passionate performance of her award-winning anthem for women, “Thanks for My Child” had the audience near tears and showed why the singer, songwriter and actress is still very much a part of our musical landscape with her melodious magic evidenced in Tyler Perry’s many blockbuster plays and movie soundtracks, her independent CD releases, and performances.
Popular radio personality Isis Jones served as host for the evening. Members of the Birmingham City Council, local politicians, business owners, and members of the Washington, DC based public policy network, Black Women’s Roundtable, were on hand to offer remarks.
Tyson, who is also convener for Alabama Black Women’s Roundtable, took a moment to urge the largely female audience to make sure everyone they know votes. She added, “I’m for all people, especially the underserved community… Black women voted at a higher rate than every other demographic in the last two presidential elections; we must continue that trend for local and state elections and demand change in our communities.”
On Saturday, after appearances by Grammy Award winning rapper and actor Ludacris, and Yung Joc, Alabama A&M University went on to win the Magic City Classic beating Alabama State University in overtime.