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Posted at 2:35 p.m. on Sept. 5, 2012
Tuesday night was the first official night of the Charlotte music festival also known as the Democratic National Convention.
To mark the occasion, HOH sat down with actor and musician Common before he took the stage at the Recording Industry Association of America and CQ Roll Call party at the Fillmore Charlotte.
Common’s 90-minute exuberant and insanely fun set didn’t just benefit the VIPs in the room, but also the charity Musicians on Call, a group that brings live music to people struggling with illness who are staying in health care facilities.
“This is my first opportunity to work with Musicians on Call,” he told HOH. “I am enthused and inspired about it because of the fact that music is something that is healing and inspirational. It can take you from a state of being down to being up.
“People in hospitals obviously need support and to feel cared for,” he continued. “Music is a great way to do that.”
Common says he has turned to music, not just as his profession, but to draw him back from the emotional valleys that accompany heartbreak and depression.
“I went through times where I’m not feeling emotionally well,” he said. “And the music can take you somewhere else.”
For Common, musical therapy occurs when he’s writing and performing.
“I’m able to make music, get on stage and write to let out a lot of emotion,” he said. “But, also I am able to listen to other people’s music and hear what their experience is. [The act of listening] helps to release emotion, too.”
The songs he has turned to in his moments of blueness are Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Keep Your Head to the Sky” and the Commodores’ “Zoom.”
“Also, different Luther Vandross songs,” he said, smiling broadly. “They make you think of love and just how important love is.”
As for the political undertone of performing at the DNC, Common was quick to say he isn’t a politician. In fact, he was in town for only one night before heading back to Los Angeles for another event Wednesday.
“But, I am a supporter of [President Barack Obama] and the people that are in politics that really care for the people, the people of America and the people of the world,” Common told us.
“The president has been one individual that I can say — from just my interaction to my observation — has been somebody who I’ve been inspired by,” he said.
“I feel [Obama] really cares for the well-being of people in America [and] people across the world no matter what color you are, what your religion is or what your sexual preference may be.”
DJ and producer Jermain Dupri also appeared and started spinning after 11 p.m. Dupri got the crowd moving by flowing through old-school hip-hop, dance and pop favorites.
Spotted milling around with the cool kids: Democratic Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). Former Obama White House Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton was jamming toward the front of the crowd.
Also in attendance: Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Keshia Knight-Pulliam who played Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” BET Chairman and CEO Debra Lee, Nickelodeon Executive Vice President Marva Smalls, Wendell Pierce from “The Wire” and CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux. Richard Schiff and Melissa Fitzgerald of NBC’s “West Wing” fame stopped by as well.
BET’s TJ Holmes, formerly of CNN, emceed the evening.
Common took the stage after midnight and tore it up with covers of hip-hop classics such as Black Sheep’s “The Choice is Yours” and Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario” mixed in with his own hits such as the Grammy-winning track “The Light.”
This show proved our long-held theory that the best parties are the ones where you never make it back to the bar because you can’t bear to leave the dance floor.
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