Stephanie Jordan sings for Oprah Winfrey

Susan L. Taylor, former editor-in-chief of Essence was honored Tuesday night in a private celebration; Oprah Winfrey and Friends of Susan Taylor at New York City's Espace for her 37 years of service to the magazine which targets African-American women. The event featured a performance by New Orleans' jazz vocalist Stephanie Jordan. Invited specifically to sing Susan's favorite jazz tune "Here's to Life, " Jordan has turned the tune most identified with her mentor Shirley Horn into her signature song. As one critic pointed out, Jordan killed it on the mic."

Jordan first rose to national prominence following the national televised Jazz at the Lincoln Center Higher Ground Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert for victims of Hurricane Katrina. She followed that up with rendition of the national anthem during the 2008 NBA All-Star Game that has been called "the most smoldering rendition of the song since Marvin Gaye performed it at another NBA All-Star Game more than 20 years ago..."

The night also served as a benefit for the National CARES Mentoring Movement that is dedicated to pairing vulnerable African-American children with a caring mentor. National CARES, which was founded by Taylor as Essence CARES, currently operates in more than 50 U.S. states.

"Winfrey, who originally made a $500, 000 commitment to the cause was so moved by the spirit of the evening that she doubled her donation-a total of $1 million-to undergird the mission."

Karu F. Daniels of adds, "Taylor was elated with the grand contribution."What a blessing Oprah's generosity is to the healing of so many young lives, " she said. "Her extraordinary gift of love took my breath away."
"With this kind of continued support, we will end the cycles of academic and social disengagement that are debilitating our communities and country, " Taylor, said. "Mentoring is the answer. It is the best and most meaningful gift we can give this holiday season."

Originally founded by Taylor as "Essence Cares" in 2006 in response to Hurricane Katrina, the organization is a mentor-recruitment movement that works to fill the pipeline of youth-supporting organizations throughout the country with mentors. Its mission is to save a generation by putting a caring adult in the life of every at-risk child and those who have already fallen into peril.

Ruby Dee, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, Common, Michael Eric Dyson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Roland S. Martin, Maurice DuBois, Lola Ogunnaike, Kephra Burns, Kevin Powell, Dr. Adelaide Sanford, Terrie M. Williams, Michelle Miller, Donna Richardson, Tommy Dortch, and Rev. Al Sharpton, were among the guests who turned out. The event was co- hosted by comedian/actress Phyllis Yvonne Stickney. Gospel music superstars Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin were the celebrity performers.

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