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A Stylish Victory for Vikki Carr


The setting was a 1940s-style Hollywood supper club.

Couples in tuxes and glittery ball gowns sat at linen-covered tables adorned with teeny lamps. Palm tree shadows danced on the walls. And up on the stage--romantically lighted in hues of lavender, blue and violet--stood the singing seductress, a little lady with a big name: Florencia Bisenta de Casillas Martinez Cardona.

But to us, she's simply Vikki Carr.

And this place on this night is not really the ballroom at the Beverly Hilton.

This is Club Vikki.

Here, 600 guests--including ringside celebs Jimmy Smits and Lalo Guerrero and KCET big shots Al Jerome, Ron Lushing and Val Zavala--are on hand at the taping of a PBS program, "Vikki Carr: Memories, Memorias" to be nationally aired in March as a pledge special.

In stunning designer gowns--three by Pete Menefee--Carr took her audience down memory lane, backed by a 22-piece orchestra, singing passionately about amor found, amor lost, amor everlasting. Helping her at the KCET benefit, which raised $350,000 for the station, were American singer Jack Jones, Mexican singer Pepe Aguilar and Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.

Backstage, after the taping, Carr and producer Dan Guerrero reveled in the experience.

"It was thrilling to celebrate the contribution that Mexican and Latin American composers have made to U.S. culture and music," Guerrero said.

But for Carr, who sang beautiful Mexican ballads in both English and in Spanish--among them "Perfidia," "Frenisi" and "Solamente Una Vez"--the show was a dream come true.

"It was just heaven for me up there singing those songs," she said, her eyes teary.

And for us, it was una noche bella.

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