The Van Wezel Foundation celebrated their 18th Annual Gala on Saturday night. Past performers at the gala have included Jay Leno, Barry Manilow, Jerry Seinfeld, among others over the years. There was a cocktail reception, dinner and Sarasota dressed in their high fashion attire at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.
Proceeds from the gala support the Van Wezel’s Arts Education programs and Community Outreach which includes special ticketing prices for vets, seniors and low-income families. They was an after-party following Seal’s performance for gala ticket holders.
This year international music superstar Seal came to Sarasota for his debut at Van Wezel to entertain with a variety of tunes including his Grammy-winning No.1 hit, “Kiss From a Rose” with Seal on acoustic guitar. During the performance a smart female fan in the front row stood up and laid a rose on the stage at the base of his microphone. That thoughtful move got her a kiss from Seal blown to her at the finish of the song.
London born Seal’s latest record is “Standards”, a record of songs from Sinatra’s Rat Pack era that Seal says he always wanted to make. It was nominated for a 2018 Grammy last week in the Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album category. One of the songs he performed from it was “I Put a Spell On You” which was met with rousing applause from the crowd.
Another exciting moment was when Seal came up into the audience and stood on a seat to perform and walk through the crowd. His many female fans were up out of their seats and cellphones were coming out to capture the moment. Seal is a very soulful and theatrical performer as well as talkative, sharing stories of his personal life experiences with the audience. His voice was in perfect form and his backing band were precision in their work.
His soulful cover of Steve Miller’s “Fly Like an Eagle” was another shining moment in the show. Seal had a top ten hit with Miller’s song on the 1996 movie “Space Jam”
soundtrack. His 1992 worldwide hit “Crazy”, which started his career in both the United Kingdom and United States was also on the Sarasota setlist.
Besides his recording the “Standards” album, Seal has been touring and was a coach for several years on Australia’s version of “The Voice”. He has also discovered some street musicians around the world, check out YouTube for videos of his adventures including a singer named “Poppy” who he brought to his show for the audience to hear. A great humanitarian and musician.
Another wonderfully successful gala for the Van Wezel Foundation! They will have their work ahead of them next year to top this year’s exciting event!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / sarasotapost.com