I was just skimming over my recent posts and I realized that I didn't give you the "scoop" on this event in NYC.
First of all, there are two reasons I love performing at this event so much. The first is that the cause is near and dear to my heart: Pediatric AIDS research. Ever since my visits to the Nyumbani orphanage in Kenya a few years ago I have been trying to put together a plan to go back. Once you have met the African children who are afflicted with AIDS through no fault of their own, and you are touched by their effervescent spirits and love of life, you can never leave them behind. They are always in my heart, and I will do anything I can do to help them live long and happy lives. The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is at the forefront of research, and I was honored to actually meet its CEO at this year's event. I pledged my help at any future events in which my services could be useful.
Now, if you've been reading this blog then you know that I am somewhat of a "fan" type of person. I do enjoy meeting and talking with people whose work in the media has meant something to me, and its always a bonus when they are "real" people. I once read a quote from Bruce Willis on why he doesn't sign autographs, and he said that he'd rather spend the time having a genuine encounter with a person than just signing his name on a piece of paper. I thought that made a lot of sense, and so every time I've met someone famous since then I've tried to have even just a short exchange of reality with them. For example, in the picture of me with David Cassidy, he is holding a photo that my mother took of me when I was 12 years old, sitting on the couch with a 16 Magazine with a poster of him on the back cover. We are talking about my life then, and what he meant to me. His reaction was sincerely sweet, and I hold that as a special memory that means so much more to me that just having his name on a piece of paper. And he called me "sweetie!"
So, this brings me to the second reason I love the Kids 4 Kids Carnival. It's just a lot of fun to meet all the celebrities who donate their time to this event and this cause. This year we got to see Aida Turturro, who played Tony's sister Janice on the Sopranos, and Gilbert Gottfried (the voice of Iago in Aladdin and many other cartoons and a star of one of my all-time favorite comedies, "Problem Child"). My kids were just insane to meet Nigel Barker, the photographer from America's Next Top Model (who, I must say, impressed me by telling another fan that he does not pose for photos while holding his child) but my favorite celebrity that we met was the cab driver from Cash Cab, Ben Bailey. He was super nice and friendly, very down-to-earth and took a lot of time talking with us (Emma is a big fan of the show.) Now that's what I'm talking about!
Now, I don't consider myself a big celebrity, but I do (and I say this most humbly) meet a lot of kids who are very excited to meet me. I always try to make each one feel special and important, because they are. I think any person who is in the public eye and has a following owes courtesy and friendliness to those who support their career. I've been fortunate that through my career in music and my career in radio, I've met a lot of famous people, and I've only encountered one or two who I would say were kind of jerky. That's not bad odds.
Thanks for reading. Hope to meet you soon!