The Wonder Of Birds

I took a rare road trip from my basement hovel below the Video Music Awards in the American Airlines Arena and was dually rewarded.

Much of my time in Miami, nay, all of it, has been spent in the one square mile between the Marriott Biscayne and the AAA, and most of it’s been spent in the white-washed newsroom staring at a computer. But I ventured out around noon today and waltzed unfettered through the cavernous, riotous backstage of the Video Music Awards. Upstairs on the press level, in the arena’s nerve center, my colleague, young Jonathan Goldner was setting up shop to digitize video from the show and update the massive tickers on the side of the building.

En route, I paused when I heard beautiful singing coming from the rehearsal stage. So few (MTV) artists actually sing anymore, so it was a real pleasure. It didn’t take me long to identify the voice as Alicia Keys’. I looked down just in time to see her, Lenny Kravitz and — gasp! — Stevie Wonder rehearse ‘Higher Ground.’

Now, I’ve seen a few things in my day. I interviewed my hero, Michael Stipe. I’ve interviewed Celine Dion, Meat Loaf, Aimee Mann, Linda Grey (Linda Grey!), David Gray (ha!), and on and on and on. And I’ve seen tons of great performances up close and personal. But THIS gave me goose bumps. THIS was Stevie Wonder. And THAT man can sing.

For a second there, before my day began spinning out of control, before the blur that was The MTV Video Music Awards, well, that was pretty cool. I was pretty psyched to be me. And pretty grateful to be here, and be able to hear a voice like that even once.

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