A Spectacular Night at the W Fort Lauderdale
Tuesday, December 9, promises to be a very special day for the LGBT community as Hotspots Media Group hosts our seventh annual Holiday Celebration. This celebration doubles as a benefit; 100% of the proceeds raised that evening will go to The Pride Center at Equality Park, an organization that works so hard in our community. This year we have elevated the celebration and moved it to the spectacular W Fort Lauderdale.
Since beginning the Holiday Celebration seven years ago, the purpose has been for the community to come together in the spirit of unity to enjoy its successes, and to give back in every way we can, and help businesses succeed. While there is never a sales pitch or a hidden agenda at the Holiday Celebration, Hotspots will quietly unveil our new corporate video that is already garnishing praise from industry insiders. The event has grown every year and has seen some very special guests, from senators and other elected officials from across the state, to amazing talent like actress Valerie Harper; the Kinsey Sicks, a comedy troupe from New York City; America’s Got Talent finalists “Wreckless”; and American Idol finalist Kimberley Locke.
So many businesses in our community have given their time and resources to help make this amazing event happen. We give thanks to the event sponsor, Diageo, purveyor of such liquor brands as Ketel One, Smirnoff, and Johnnie Walker, who will be offering a signature cocktail that, if purchased, will include a chance to win a diamond courtesy of Argenti Jewelers (and the winner will be chosen THAT NIGHT!). Besides the gem and the finest libations, there will also be a silent auction with fantastic prizes worth thousands of dollars, and hors d’oeuvres. 100% of the proceeds from the auction will benefit The Pride Center at Equality Park.
This year we are excited to announce that the entertainment will be X Factor finalist Lillie McCloud, who is often compared to Whitney Houston. For those of you who haven’t heard Lillie’s angelic voice, you are in for a treat.
It was a pleasure to sit down with Lillie for this exclusive Hotspots interview, just two weeks before she will be performing at the Holiday Celebration.
When was the first time you realized you wanted to be a singer?
I first realized I wanted to be a singer when I was about six years old.
Who was the first person to notice you in the biz?
I was first noticed by Oliver Pitt, a club owner, and that was in Miami.
You had a two-decade recording career. Why did that end?
In 2004, I decided to retire after releasing my last CD. This was due to my relationship and wanting to spend more time with my family. Now that my children are grown with their own families and I have a new and healthy relationship with Terry, it’s time for me to get busy again with my music career.
How did it feel the first time you heard your song on the radio?
No words can describe it. It’s the feeling of knowing you’re now on the right road to your destiny. I was more than happy. I was excited, exhilarated, awesome, and so on!
Who were your inspirations in the music industry?
My inspirations were Motown artists, especially Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.
What are your favorite songs to sing and why?
“I Will Survive,” by Gloria Gaynor, because it is an uplifting song for every broken heart. “What Is Hip,” by Tower of Power, because the song teaches us that no one can tell you what’s in or out of style. “Alabaster Box,” by CeCe Winans, because no matter who you are or what you’ve done, this song teaches that God still loves you and you can be forgiven. Then there’s Michael Jackson’s music like “Earth Song” and “Man in the Mirror.” His music was about love and peace.
You have traveled all over the world. What is your favorite city and why?
Miami, because they have great beaches. Also, anything you would like to do, or anything you would like to eat, any place you would like to go, at any hour, is in Miami 12 months a year. My second home is Košice, Slovakia. Very family-oriented.
Most people know you from The X Factor. Tell me about that experience and what you take away from it?
It was a great relaunching ground. There was quite a bit of stress due to the schedule. Sleep each day was about five hours, max. You had to be willing to give up everything you are and let them create a new you. This was not easy. I had complete freedom on two songs, “Alabaster Box” and “A House is Not a Home.” Other than that, they did my clothes, my makeup, my hair, and even chose the song I should sing and told me pretty much how to sing it, as well as how to move or stand. I was not a happy girl but I’m so grateful because I discovered another side of me. I’m thankful for the experience and I have gained a huge following in countries such as Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and even in Africa. The X Factor expanded my fan base like crazy.
What do you do for fun?
I love to play with my kids and my family. I’m like a little kid who never grew up. I love dancing salsa and merengue. I love to travel…after I get there, that is! Airports are no fun.
What would people be shocked to know about you?
I play congas and bass guitar. I may have three kids, but there is no sex before [my upcoming] marriage! What does my guy have to say about that? He totally agrees. We are the best of friends.
Your fiancé, Terry, is a wonderful guy and clearly head over heels in love with you. Any plans for a wedding day yet?
Yes, soon, we hope. We have a completely celibate relationship. Help! Enough already! [laughs]
As a gay man, I have to ask you, how do you stay so young-looking? What’s the secret?
Bad food, no sleep, stress, and lots of wine. I’m happy and I’m having a love affair with God…
When did you realize you had a gay following, and what are your feelings toward, and for, the gay community?
The support was large when it came to my dance music. I love everyone: gay, straight, combination, confused, you name it. If we can laugh, dance, talk, and enjoy good food and good drinks with good friends, then I’m good. I have learned so much about makeup and fashion and how to work it on stage from gay performers; there’s no stage fright at all [from them].
The seventh annual Hotspots Holiday Celebration is a not-to-be-missed event, so please join us for an unforgettable night on Tuesday, December 9 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. There is plenty of street parking surrounding the W Fort Lauderdale, but if you want valet parking, make sure you get the sticker at registration for half-price (only $10). Tickets are only $20 and can be purchased in advance at HotspotsHolidayCelebration.com or at the door. We can’t wait to celebrate the spirit of the season and support The Pride Center at Equality Park.