Story By: G. H. HARDING
Lionel Richie

DREAMS COME TRUE --- From manager Dave Novick in L.A. - songwriter Roxanna and special guest Jon Secada, appear tonight, in L. A., at Vibiana.

Roxanna is coming off the success of the her latest singles, "Close Your Eyes," which is currently impacting A/C radio stations around the country, and "Hello", her sublime cover of the Lionel Richie classic, which is garnering significant attention at Smooth Jazz radio around the world.

The Canadian-songstress has joined forces with famed producer Mark Portmann, (Michael Buble, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion), for the release of her full-length debut album, Exotica, available worldwide on April 29, 2014. The new album will feature a string of romantic and flamenco influenced songs including new renditions of The Hollies 1972 hit song, “The Air That I Breathe,” Julio Iglesias’ 1975 hit song “El Amor,” along with “Hello” and many other beautiful and melodic songs.

The show is being recorded for a TV special to be broadcast this summer.

Secada, is the multi-Grammy-award winning performer who has unfortunately been away from the scene for far too long. Secada (born Juan Francisco Secada Ramirez; October 4, 1961) is a Cuban American singer and songwriter born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Hialeah, Florida. He has won two Grammy Awards and sold 20 million albums since his English-language debut album in 1992.

His music fuses funk, soul, pop and Latin percussion. Secada also has worked as a songwriter for Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Mandy Moore and other performers. Two years back he recorded a track, “Dreams Come True,” with actress Rebecca Holden, from the Knight Rider TV-show with David Hasselhoff.

Next thing we knew, Secada was out, and newcomer Abraham MacDonald was in. Their version was great (a stunningly good video is on YouTube, but the great-Secada-gravitas was sorely missing from this new recording.

Our good friend David Salidor was the PR-man for the record and we asked him what happened with Secada and he reluctantly declined to answer … meaning that something ugly must have happened between the artists and producer Joel Diamond.

Too bad, as his version was excellent. Check out Roxanna and Jon tonight.

LEON RUSSELL --- I am and have been a true fan of singer/songwriter Leon Russell since first hearing his song “Delta Lady,” performed by Joe Cocker in 1969. Of course, I had first heard about Russell from his work in the legendary Wrecking Crew and his wondrous work with Phil Spector (Sonny & Cher; Glen Campbell). His appearance at George Harrison’s 1971 Bangladesh concert was a true highlight (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”/“Youngblood”). Russell must have been a great hang too, as he counted Harrison and Dylan and Elton John as part of his cognoscenti. He was rock royalty.

John opened for him in 1970 at the famed Troubadour club in L. A. where John cemented his legendary status for the first time in the U.S.

He also wrote several few great songs, including “This Masquerade” and “A Song For You.”

In 2010, John reunited with Leon for the stunningly good album, The Union produced by T. Bone Burnett. It was a great album: followed by a terrific HBO-special and numerous dates around the world.

With John having returned Russell to rock-star status, I wondered what would be his next step. Not in great health and even undergoing treatment while recording The Union, it appeared that his best days may have been behind him.

This week, his new album Life Journey, was released. Produced by the legendary jazz-producer Tommy LiPuma, it’s a straight up mix of songs; from the standard “Georgia On My Mind,” to two Russell-originals, “Big Lips” and “Down In Dixieland.” LiPuma’s arrangements are almost straight-up jazz; which isn’t a bad thing at all, but light years from The Union. LiPuma’s technique is just stunning; much like his work with Diane Krall and Paul McCartney’s standard album, Kisses On The Bottom.

In the liner notes, Russell twice refers to him being near the exit of his journey. Says the artist, “This is a record of my musical journey through life; it reflects pieces of things that I have done and things I never did, for one reason or another.”

John, who is credited as the executive producer, does not appear on the album. It would have been nice to hear the two re-unite one more … one more/last time.

It’s bittersweet, for sure, but this almost-tribute album is totally moving.

CLOSING NOTES --- Two more great tours this summer: Journey with the Steve Miller Band and Tower Of Power; and, Chicago and REO Speedwagon …

What great, heritage band, re-uniting again this summer (for 18 or so dates around the country), said they wouldn't hire this one particular tour-PR firm … and, then, went ahead and did it? Turns out, the main-guy at the PR-firm can’t stand the group; what a business …

All this Al Sharpton talk is oddly timed. I remember, when Sharpton was a bit thicker around the middle, some comedian asking why he kept wearing a track suit … when it was immediately clear, he never ran - funny stuff. I think with the start of his convention this week, it’s perfectly timed …

Dayme, working with producer Ricky Crespo, has one other wild card in her hip pocket. I just found out yesterday; was sworn to secrecy. We'll tell you when we can …

Barbara Walters officially exits her View show on Friday, May 16. Boy, with Letterman leaving next year; Chelsea Handler eyeing her exit, and now Miss Barbara … the TV-landscape is changing generational. Look, The View was great ... we loved it most when Rosie was there, but it needs a very, very dramatic change. Just saying …

Am I the only one who remembers the chat-fest hosted by British-born, Australian journalist Gordon Elliot in the early 90’s? Believe it or not, he’s the executive producer of ABC’s daytime program The Chew. Re-invention is always the best … right? ..

Tomorrow night's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony seems to be in tatters. Cat Stevens is here ... but, no one wants to induct him and there's no Kiss in the house.

Andrew Loog Oldham, the original Rolling Stones-manager won't make it either (he said it's too much of a TV-show now!) and Brian Epstein is dead, though he'll be inducted by Peter Asher. A Mess in you ask me.

Whatever ... the show will be on TV soon ...