melba-moore_web.jpgA stroke of luck allowed Tony Award winning singer Melba Moore to appear in El Portal while awaiting her upcoming performance in the M Ensemble production of the play CROWNS, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami.

“She (Moore) came by last week with Shirley Richardson.  We gave her a proclamation, not for performing here.  We gave it to her because she was gracious.  She came back on her own.  That’s her way of giving back and I like that,” explained El Portal Mayor, Daisy Black.

And gracious she was in singing the title song from her current CD Love Is and Purlie.  Moore also answered questions and signed autographs for an audience that expressed long term admiration of her artistic works.

Moore, who has starred in the plays Purlie, Timbuktu and Hair, let her music deliver a well-received message to an audience that beamed with pride and gratitude. 

One by one and in groups they took turns being photographed with Moore. The singer was also thanked by Miami Dade Public Schools Board Member Dorothy Bendross Mindingall, who offered a hint of what’s to come in the way of educational services in the area.

“We do not have a K-8 center in this this district.  We will have two K-8 centers. We don’t want to lose our kids,” said Bendross Mindingall.”

Ironically, Rosalee Wright, who died Sept. 5, 2010, wasn’t here to enjoy the special luncheon.  She, according to her daughter Jeannette Wright, was a regular at the seniors luncheon.

“She was here all the time.  She encouraged me to come.  Younger people need to come out and learn about this to keep it going. I think its nice to have these luncheons,” said Wright, who, along with sister Betty and brothers Charles and Phillip are also entertainers.

A scheduling conflict nearly resulted in long time El Portal resident, Annie L. Rogne, who initiated the seniors luncheon, missing this luncheon.

“I meet with the seniors at my church,” said Rogne, director of the Seniors Ministry at St. Paul A.M.E. Church in Miami. 
“So I called and asked if I could bring my seniors to see Melba Moore. Most live in El Portal.  And they said yes.  This is wonderful for them.  As you can see, they’re having a good time.”

Councilwoman Claudia V. Cubillos, noted the seniors luncheons scheduled for Black History Month and the month of March, which will focus on the Irish cultures. The focus for the February seniors luncheon, according to Black, will be on Black American pioneers and trailblazers who lived in El Portal.

But on this day, it was the gift of song from Moore.

“It’s a good thing,” said long time resident Merlin Brooks, who planted a palm tree in  front of the El Portal Village Hall the day after Barack Obama was elected President.  “We don’t have enough seniors in El Portal.  [Some of] the seniors that are here have become complacent.  They don’t want to leave their homes.  Seniors in El Portal could benefit from transportation to take them to and from the grocery store,” he said.

“El Portal is like the palm tree I planted.  I call it the people’s palm tree for change.  I was piggybacking off President Obama.  It’s just like in the presidency.  A little change but it takes time.”

Moore performs in CROWNS at the Arsht Center from Feb. 6 to 11. For more information, call 786-468-2326 or visit

Derek Joy may be contacted at