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February 18, 2004

Washington Post

Any fears of Orrin Hatch suffering a "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2003 Washington Area Music Association Awards were put to rest early Sunday night when the singing senator from Utah -- yep, he was nominated -- failed to show at Falls Church's gala-gussied State Theatre. Not that the politico, up for best gospel/inspirational vocalist, would have gone home with any hardware from this raucous ceremony toasting the local music industry. Hatch lost to the shining star of the 18th annual Wammies, Sweet Honey in the Rock's Bernice Johnson Reagon, who was also presented with a special appreciation award for her heaven-sent work with the legendary gospel group she founded in 1973.

Getting the collective gooseflesh rippling, Reagon reared back and sang half of her acceptance speech -- one of the rare times the capacity crowd cut the chitchat to pay attention to what was going down onstage. With the second half of her thank-you, she told the awed crowd, "I don't know if there is any other region in the world where I could have done the work I've done here in Washington, D.C."

It was the night's transcendent moment -- then everyone started clinking cocktails again, which was just as well, since the sketchy sound system was routinely gremlinized, and most of the other speeches were pretty ho-hum anyway. But no matter: For an awards ceremony, the Wammies are one heck of a shindig. Schmooze and booze trumped ceremony and speeches, as close to 1,000 sharp-dressed music-industry notables from the District, Maryland and Virginia gathered to share some local pride, swap business cards and run up one doozy of a bar bill. Most of the people who won an award usually just sauntered onstage, murmured thanks -- and then made a beeline back to where the real action was. More

Posted by acapnews at February 18, 2004 9:31 AM

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