Oakland soul singer Brenda Vaughn began planning a fundraiser benefit for her friend, singer and keyboardist Rosie Gaines, who has gone through periods of homelessness and was hospitalized for most of last year.
The benefit, “I Am My Sister’s Keeper,” is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 31, 8 p.m. at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle, 410 14th Street in Oakland. It will feature a star-studded lineup of performers, including Lenny Williams, D’Wayne Wiggins of Tony Toni Tone, Wilton Rabb of Graham Central Station, Tuck and Patti, Tony Dwayne and Levi Seacer.
While in Singapore for an engagement at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Vaughn received reports from back home about the plight of her friend, each one more alarming than the last.
Gaines, who is best known for her duet with Prince on his 1993 hit “Diamonds and Pearls,” had spent much of her time in and out of the hospital after her legs had become swollen and seriously infected since she stopped taking her insulin.
Gaines, according to Vaughn, is now living in a homeless shelter in Richmond, where staff is making sure she takes her medication.
“I knew she was in trouble for over a year,” said Vaughn, while sitting in her office at Geoffrey’s Inner Circle in Oakland.
Gaines – from Pittsburg, CA – had been a popular attraction at such local venues as Earle’s Solano Club, Yoshi’s and the Great American Music Hall prior to joining Prince’s New Power Generation in 1989.
“I was thinking I’d send $300 or something to help out, but it just kept coming back to me. Once I found out she had nowhere to stay, I felt like I was supposed to do something bigger,” said Vaughn.
Vaughn began orchestrating the benefit in November while in Singapore and reached out to several Bay Area entertainers, asking them to part in the event. In December, at the end of her long-term contract with the hotel, Vaughn flew home to recruit more participants and put the final touches on the benefit.
Other performing vocalists include Vaughn, Tiffany Austin, Faye Carol, Melvin Carter, Darlene Coleman, La Toya Gaines, Nikita Germaine, Derick Hughes, Tara Kemp, Lady Bianca, Charlene Moore, Terrie Odabi, Otis Redding III and former En Vogue member Maxine Jones.
Vaughn said Gaines is expected to attend.
“Her legs have been getting better,” said La Toya, 37. “Since she has diabetes, it’s going to take a long time for them to heal. If she stops taking her medicine and her legs get re-infected, they’re going to end up having to amputate them. We’re trying to avoid that at all costs.”
Proceeds from the benefit will go towards housing where Gaines’ only child, La Toya, can help her 54-year-old mother get back on her feet, physically and mentally, and provide other living necessities.
Prince, according to a very reliable source, “is absolutely helping.”
Admission is $30. For tickets, visit www.geoffreysinnercircle.com.