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Bon Jovi Recognized For Music, Charity Work

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By Aubrey Whelan

The Philadelphia Inquirer

(TNS)

PHILADELPHIA — Hundreds of people gathered Tuesday night at the Kimmel Center as Jon Bon Jovi accepted the Marian Anderson Award for his musical and philanthropic endeavors.

The award is given to entertainers who have “contributed to our society in a singular manner,” according to the event’s organizers. They highlighted Bon Jovi’s music as well as his commitment to charity.

Bon Jovi took the stage to a standing ovation about 10:30. “I’m deeply humbled to accept this award,” he said, “and I do so fully aware of the rich and the powerful legacy of this honor.” The award is named for the late African American contralto and South Philadelphia High School graduate, who was celebrated as a singer of classical music and spirituals and who, when she encountered racial intolerance, gracefully fought for social justice.

Saying he never had to face the struggles that the award’s namesake endured, Bon Jovi noted: “I was, in fact, born in suburban New Jersey in 1962.”

He exhorted the crowd: “Let us draw inspiration from those that have come before us to do the work we are called to do.”

Earlier, a host of celebrities and politicians sang Bon Jovi’s praises. The comedian Wanda Sykes called him “a real rock star” who helps others achieve their own dreams. Bon Jovi, she said, excels at everything he does: “Music, acting, good hair.”

She drew huge laughs with a reference to Philadelphia’s new marijuana-decriminalization law: “Thanks to Mayor Nutter, we’re all carrying a little bit of weed around with us now.”

Later in the evening, Nutter responded: “There’s nothing like being called out by Wanda Sykes.”

He hailed Bon Jovi as “really just a wonderful man” and a “great artist.”

An early no-show was Sen. Cory A. Booker, D-N.J., a former Newark mayor, who was slated to speak. “If he was “Mayor Booker, he would have been here,” Sykes joked.

Booker arrived about 10. Explaining his lateness, he quipped: “I had to save Wanda from a fire backstage.”

In a serious vein, Booker said that Marian Anderson’s groundbreaking 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial was a seminal moment in American history.

Of Bon Jovi, Booker said: “It is a true artist who has courage and creativity in their passion.”

Sister Mary Scullion of Philadelphia’s Project HOME said Bon Jovi “calls us to live out the American dream — to work for what our country can and should be.”

At a cocktail reception and dinner before the presentation, WMMR disc jockey Pierre Robert said Bon Jovi was “the real deal.”

“He’s had a huge amount of commercial and artistic success, but that wasn’t enough. The good ones know when they get to that level, you have to give back.”

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©2014 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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Bon Jovi Recognized For Music, Charity Work