Happy Birthday Vanessa Williams! (Plus, Always Say ‘Yes’ And Dance It Out)

Happy Birthday Vanessa Williams! (Plus, Always Say ‘Yes’ And Dance It Out)
Me with birthday girl Vanessa Williams

“Sometimes the snow comes down in June, sometimes the sun goes round the moon…”

Sometimes, on your first day of college, you meet a kindred spirit and you’re off on a lifetime of friendship.

Sending my biggest birthday wishes to college bestie Vanessa Williams, who celebrates 60 trips around the sun today.

Ever since we met as freshmen music theater majors at Syracuse University, no matter the time or distance apart, our friendship – like her smile, talent, and laugh – is always there. Here’s one example…

Happy Birthday Vanessa Williams! (Plus, Always Say ‘Yes’ And Dance It Out)
Vanessa and I posing for a PR photo during college days

Back in 2018, Vanessa was the surprise guest star on the Atlantis Mediterranean Cruise. I had no idea she would be on the ship, and it was a fantastic bonus to get to spend 3-4 days with V. Usually, I see her for a few hours at a time after one of her concerts or Broadway shows.

The day of her concerts (she did two in one night as the theater only held about 1,400 and there were 5,000 gay men on the cruise who wanted to see her), hubby Michael and I dropped by her sound check.

As she went through her set, she mentioned she was doing a song by Oscar winning composer Jimmy Van Heusen. She and I had performed together in college in a JVH revue. Off the cuff, she asked if I’d get up during the concert and dance about 32 bars while she sang.

I was flattered, but I’m usually one to plan out every detail when I perform. My natural instinct is to try and be “perfect.” But there was no time or space to rehearse anything with the concert happening in 3 hours.

Happy Birthday Vanessa Williams! (Plus, Always Say ‘Yes’ And Dance It Out)
Me with Vanessa Williams on the Mediterranean Atlantis cruise 2018

However, it’s not in me to say ‘no’ to V. So, I said ‘yes.’ She then added she’d be doing a different song in that slot in her 2nd concert that night – would I dance to that, too? Of course, I said ‘Yes.’

So, I recorded V and her band sound checking the two songs, and spent the next few hours just listening with head phones on and brainstorming steps in my head. There was never space for me to actually dance “full out,” so it was going to be what it was going to be.

But I knew V and I would have fun. And we did. In front of an audience of 3,000 gay men 🙂

The first clip below is from the 1st concert of the evening where I came up to dance along to V singing “Come Dance with Me” by JVH. In the second show, I improvised my way through “Zaz Zuh Zaz.”

Notice how fantastic Vanessa is joining in and dancing with me. Completely unrehearsed.

In the end, I’m sharing this because it was really a fantastic lesson in not making decisions out of fear. I had a most fun time dancing with V again – something I would have missed out on if I had said ‘no.’ I’m so glad I did.

Was I perfect? Nope. Was I as “fierce” as I might have been back in my prime dancing days on Broadway? Nope. But I let go of all that, was in the moment with V, and had waaaaay fun.

It was like being back at Syracuse U. working on an acting scene or dance project together again, trusting each other to be there. Only this time in front of 3,000 people LOL.

Seriously – face the fear and do it anyway. Or – “Always say ‘yes’ and dance it out.”

Over the years, I written more about my adventures with Vanessa. You can find those posts here and here.

By the way, V’s next TV gig is returning as a diva judge for Season 2 of the drag singing competition “Queen of the Universe” on Paramount + premiering June 2.

Happy 60th to the oh-so-awesome Vanessa Williams! And here’s to what’s next! #worktodo