Interviews Bernie Mac Foundation CEO, Rhonda McCullough, on Valentine‘s Day Blues Extravaganza Fundraiser has posted the following article on their website:

When comedian, and Chicago native, Bernie Mac died in August of 2008 from the effects of sarcoidosis—an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the lymph nodes and the lungs—he had already vowed that his legacy would center around increasing public awareness of the disease and attempting to facilitate the search for a cure. He’d first been diagnosed in 1983, but continued to work steadily for most of the next twenty-five years: he is Number 72 on Comedy Central’s list of the 100 greatest standup comedians of all time; his Fox Network sitcom, “The Bernie Mac Show,” ran from 2001 to 2006 and garnered significant recognition, including a Peabody Award, NAACP Image Award, and two Emmy nominations; his film credits included major roles in such features as How To Be A Player, Life and the 2001 remake of Ocean’s Eleven. But the disease eventually took its toll. In 2006, not long after the t.v. show ended, he and his wife, Rhonda R. McCullough, embarked on a mission to create a not-for-profit entity that would, in the words of the Bernie Mac Foundation’s web site, “Be the ‘Go To’ source and on the patient side to give the patients a community, a meeting place, to learn and discuss the rigors of the disease called Sarcoidosis, and to make the research findings more accessible to those less fortunate.” The foundation was formally established the following year.

On Thursday, February 13, a “Valentine’s Day Blues Extravaganza Fundraiser” starring veteran Bobby Rush along with up-and-coming soul-blues vocalist Theo Huff will be presented at Mr. G’s Supper Club.  Rhonda McCullough, President and CEO of the Foundation, notes that both the Chicago location and the musical genre are especially appropriate to Bernie Mac’s memory.  “He had a great love for Chicago,” she said (the block of W. 69th Street in Englewood, where he grew up, was named “Bernie Mac Street” in his honor in 2012). “Everything that was birthed from here was his favorite.  Bernie loved music from an early age, and it just continued to grow; you could actually say he was a connoisseur of music. He loved, loved, loved Johnny Guitar Watson!  ‘I Want to Ta Ta- Ya You Baby’  [from Watson’s 1976 album Ain’t That A Bitch] was like his signature song. He also loved Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Bobby Blue Bland.”

At least partly for this reason, she concludes, “The Bernie Mac Foundation thought, ‘What better way to raise money for sarcoidosis [and] our mission to help with research and education about this disease?  Who doesn’t love the blues?’”

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