BY LINDA Y. WALTERS

The 2016 Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival presented a fabulous artist whose initial blossom has never faded. Singer/actress Darlene Love took to the American Gardens stage on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in performances that wowed the crowds. Even those who were not entirely familiar with hit songs like

“He’s a Rebel”, “Today I Met the Boy I”M Gonna Marry”, ” The Do Run Run”, and “River Deep, Mountain High” eagerly joined in the infectious enthusiasm at the amphitheater.

Ms. Love’s enduring talent is remarkable and while her performance brings to mind the inimitable Tina Turner, she also makes one think of our current Queen of the Bee Hive, Beyonce. She gives us her all. It takes a lot of talent to handle that level of comparison but Darlene Love has both the vocal chops and the stage presence.

“I think it’s especially wonderful to see multigenerational audiences come in. People of my age group come in with their children and grandchildren and its really great”, she stated when asked how it feels to span several decades in terms of both performance and recording history.

Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, Darlene Love’s accomplishments do not only include being an accomplished singer.

Ms. Love has also starred opposite both Danny Glover and Mel Gibson in the four “Lethal Weapon” movies, a franchise which has reportedly earned more than $487 million in worldwide distribution. Academy award winning film, “Twenty Feet from Stardom”, in 2016 took home the top prize by chronicling the inherent ups and downs of several talented background singers throughout the years with Ms. Love’s story serving as a prominent focus. Rolling Stone magazine called her “one of the greatest singers of all time and Paul Schaffer, former musical director with David Letterman’s NBC late night show succinctly stated, “Darlene Love is Rock N Roll.”

When asked how she has managed to bypass the apparent demons which seem to befall many talented, accomplished performers, Darlene Love was solidly candid.

“Although you have to follow your dreams, this industry can be hard but is also equally rewarding. You must be persistent but always have people around you who both love you and are willing to tell you ‘no’, when necessary,” she stated.

Stevie Van Zandt, the well known and accomplished talent who has performed with Bruce Springsteen for many years, recently produced Darlene Love’s current CD.

“All Alone on Christmas”, (sung on screen in the now classic movie Home Alone 2) was featured prominently on this disc and continues to be a fan favorite.

Broadway stints like Hairspray and Grease, the first Broadway “jukebox musical, Leader of the Pack and a guest appearance on the PBS special entitled, “Women Who Rock”, have placed Darlene Love in the crosshairs of those who both recognize and promote this level of long standing talent . There is discussion that Oprah Winfrey would possibly produce a film based on the life of Darlene Love. Stay tuned as this driven, talented and extremely youthful song bird continues to etch her way into America’s consciousness. As part of the Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ hit factory which originated in the early sixties, Darlene Love shows no signs of wear and/or tear. If sixty is the new forty, then clearly seventy is edging out any relevant signs of fifty with Darlene Love leading the charge.

Epcot’s International Flower and Garden Festival continues to blossom with an amazing display of flora and fauna, topiaries, and outdoor family fun.

Butterflies, outdoor kitchens, garden destinations, and much more. The Garden Rocks musical series will offer “Night Ranger” (Sister Christian) in performance at the American Gardens Theatre the weekend of May 20 – 22 and “The Spinners” (Working My Way Back to You Babe) in performance on May 27 through May 30.

For more information on these exciting venues, go to www.freshEpcot.com

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