On Sunday, July 30 at 7:00 PM, Sheryl Lee Ralph will perform a benefit concert for her Diva Foundation to celebrate it 28 years of committed community HIV/AIDS awareness and to raise money to continue an almost three-decade fight for good health and the supportive avenues to achieve it. A Diva Simply Singing is the longest- running series of musical benefits of its kind in America, and also celebrates Ms. Ralph’s nine-month acclaimed run as Madame Morrible on Broadway in Wicked.
Musical direction will be by Ted Arthur. The more generous patrons are encouraged to bring an additional check made out to The Diva Foundation and funds will be put to instantaneous use in this battle to educate, heighten awareness, council, prevent, and defeat a disease that changed the word positive to negative. Press notes “warn” that Sheryl Lee Ralph “fully intends to lift the roof off the Metropolitan Room” in this show which she may be bringing soon to London, Paris, Tokyo, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Las Vegas. Other plans in the works involve “embryonic stages of discussing, examining and evaluating the idea of her re-inventing, re-imagining and re-interpreting the iconic, atomic-fueled” title role of Mame, aiming at Broadway.
Bio: With continued success on stage, screen, television and in music, along with her philanthropic endeavors, Sheryl Lee Ralph has never been one to rest on her laurels. A triple threat dreamgirl, Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, which brought her nominations for 1982’s Tony Award and Drama Desk Award. She returned to Broadway for a 12-month stint in the Tony Award-winning musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, portraying the sassy chanteuse Muzzy Van Hossmere.
On a national tour, her one-woman play, Sometimes I Cry, bringing to life nightly her own heralded script, which explores the lives, loves, and losses of women infected and affected by HIV. No stranger to television, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s credits include It’s a Living, Designing Women, The District, and, most notably, Moesha. She also appeared on the Showtime series, Barbershop, as the popular, post-operative transsexual Claire and brought a new face to the sufferings of war in the NBC hit series ER. On the big screen, she has worked with some of Hollywood’s most exalted and award-winning leading men, including The Mighty Quinn with Denzel Washington, Mistress with Robert De Niro, To Sleep with Anger with Danny Glover and The Distinguished Gentleman with Eddie Murphy. Miss Ralph picked up a win for Best Supporting Actress at the Independent Spirit Awards for her electrifying performance in To Sleep with Anger. Finding success with writing/directing, Miss Ralph’s award-winning short film Secrets, co-starring Alfre Woodard and Robin Givens was a finalist in the HBO Film Short Competition, Showtime’s Filmmaker Award Series, and the BET Filmmaker Award Competition. Secrets was subsequently screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, the Hollywood Film Festival, the Acapulco Film Festival and the Urban World Film Festival. The film was then honored with the coveted Audience Favorite Award at the Outfest Film Festival. Sheryl Lee Ralph is also the founder/creator of the Jamerican Film and Music Festival.
Raised between Mandeville, Jamaica, and Long Island, New York, Sheryl Lee was born in Waterbury, Connecticut to an African American father and a Jamaican mother. Sheryl attended Uniondale High School in Uniondale, NY, where she co-starred in the high school’s production of Oklahoma! as Ado Annie. She graduated in 1972.
In 1973, she was crowned Miss Black Teen-Age New York. At 19, Ralph was the youngest female to ever graduate from Rutgers University; her graduating class of 1975 being the first to accept women. Glamour Magazine immediately proclaimed her as one of the Top 10 College Women in America. Initially she hoped to study medicine, but after dealing with cadavers in a pre-med class and then winning a scholarship to the American College Theater Festival; she left medicine for the performing arts. She was later honored to be the Commencement Speaker at Rutgers University for the Class of 2003.
In 1984, Ralph released her only album, In the Evening. The title track peaked at #6 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart. She has since been inducted as an Honorary Member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, at their National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Tougaloo College after which she delivered the commencement address.
About The Diva Foundation:
The Diva Foundation (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aware) is a national not-for-profit 501C(3) charitable organization founded by Sheryl Lee Ralph, in 1990, as a memorial to the many friends she had lost to HIV/AIDS. The organization focuses on generating resources and coordinating activities to create awareness of and combat against HIV/AIDS. The DIVA Foundation utilizes music and entertainment as a vehicle to inform, educate and erase the stigma attached to this deadly disease. The Diva Foundation’s Awareness Campaign has grown to include: town hall meetings, prevention seminars, free HIV testing, HIV/AIDS counseling, free healthcare materials, and, of course, the annual DIVAS Simply Singing! Benefit Concert. In the work of Driving Infectious Viruses Away, the foundation focuses on HIV/AIDS awareness, testing and the lowering of the HIV infection rate especially as it pertains to women, girls and young people and the development of new and effective programs to combat the disease using the Arts. The foundation disseminates information, and provides advocacy and mobilization from a uniquely and unapologetically artistic feminine point of view. Sheryl Lee Ralph, was awarded the first Red Ribbon Award at the UN for her unique use of the Arts in HIV/AIDS activism. She has also received a Doctorate in Humane Letters from Huston-Tillotson University in recognition of her AIDS activism.