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Nonagenarian Roscoe Robinson wowed attendees of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame on Oct. 26 by rising from his wheelchair to deliver an unforgettable vocal performance.

Robinson, 91, a gospel and R&B recording artist and member of the six-person class of 2019 inductees, sang a gospel version of the old Jackie Wilson hit "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" at the end of the black-tie ceremony and show, held in the Robinson Center Performance Hall. Those attending the VIP reception, held beforehand in the ballroom of the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Little Rock, had a chance to meet the honorees while enjoying hors d'oeuvres and cocktails.

The Rodney Block Collective provided entertainment before the ceremony, which was emceed -- with humor -- by actors and native Arkansans Rikki Danielle and Marcell Brown. Charles O. Stewart, Black Hall of Fame chairman, gave opening remarks. Gov. Asa Hutchinson congratulated the honorees via video.

Inductees were introduced by those who'd made remarks about them in video vignettes. Snippets from several situation-comedy episodes written by inductee John Donley were shown just before his introduction. Opera star Kristin Lewis was forced to cancel her appearance due to illness. The Rev. Bettye Lewis accepted her daughter's award; pianist Linda Holzer performed pieces by William Grant Still and Florence Price in place of Kristin Lewis' planned performance. Delbra Caradine accepted honors on behalf of her husband, the late Wallace "Wali" Caradine. Also inducted were state legislator Irma Hunter Brown and Edward "Coach Ed" Johnson.

Other crowd-pleasing moments of the evening included a kickoff performance of the combined R&B hits "Before I Let Go" (Frankie Beverly and Maze) and "Candy" (Cameo), by vocalist Deidra Jones, the Parkview Arts Science Magnet High School Marching Band, and the dancers of the Tidwell Project. The Tidwell troupe reappeared later, with Tania Kelley, for a moving dance tribute to honorees who'd passed away this year. Crystal Mercer delivered a powerful spoken-word poem tribute to the new class of honorees, and LaVantor Butler delivered a dose of stand-up comedy.

Proceeds from the ceremony and show will go toward grants given by the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Foundation to nonprofits that help black and underserved communities in the state.

Gallery: 27th Arkansas Black Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Show

High Profile on 11/03/2019

Print Headline: Extreme excellence

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