Oprah kicked off her Legends weekend celebration by hosting an elegant luncheon at her California home, Promised Land. It was a Friday and one of those temperate, untroubled, clear days that are so unfairly plentiful here, setting off Promised Land's 42 acres to dazzling advantage. "I live between the mountains and the sea," Oprah told a guest, using what seemed to be a metaphor for something mysterious and wonderful. Today was a long-awaited day: the beginning of a weekend of festivities honoring the African-American women Oprah calls Legends.
Oprah welcomes Halle Berry and Tina Turner to her home for preluncheon cocktails.
Dr. Maya Angelou and Oprah relish the moment in front of Oprah's favorite painting, To the Highest Bidder, by Harry Roseland. "Isn't it ironic," Oprah said, "that all of these free women are celebrating our lives under the gaze of a woman who is about to be sold into slavery and separated from her young daughter."
Kimberly Elise, Alicia Keys and Phylicia Rashad come together in Oprah's foyer.
Della Reese, Patti LaBelle, Gayle King and Ruby Dee didn't coordinate their outfits, but what a vision!
Naomi Campbell and Iman light up the room.
Young'uns Ashanti, Janet Jackson, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, and Missy Elliott honor the Legends with a reading of "We Speak Your Names."
Oprah feels the power of Pearl Cleage's words: "My sisters, we are gathered here to speak your names. We are here because we are your daughters as surely as if you had conceived us, nurtured us, carried us in your wombs and then sent us out into the world to make our mark, and see what we see and be what we be, but better, truer, deeper because of the shining example of your own incandescent lives."
Opera singer Kathleen Battle thanks Leontyne Price for leading the way.
Spontaneously, Legends and young'uns autographed each other's menu cards. Here, Janet Jackson and Della Reese trade signatures.
"This is a magnificent thing, to bring these particular people together," Della Reese said. "This is love."
After lunch, an army of waitstaff reappeared, this time carrying red alligator boxes. Oprah asked that all her guests open their gifts at once. There was a moment of silence. Then Angela Bassett let out a scream, Debbie Allen a fantastic shriek. Under her cloudlike hat, Cicely Tyson covered her face with her hands. Diahann Carroll stood up and exclaimed, "You have lost your incredible mind!" Inside each box was a pair of diamond earrings: A large hoop dripping with diamonds for the younger women, an elegant double teardrop for the Legends.
Tina Turner, Halle Berry, Oprah and Alicia Keys do the diamond dance.
Natalie Cole and Mariah Carey share an unforgettable moment.
The rest of the weekend was still to unfurl. There was a magnificent white-tie ball for 362 guests on Saturday night. At Saturday's ball, Pearl Cleage and the "young'uns" read "We Speak Your Names" (back, from left: Suzan-Lori Parks, Judith Jamison, Natalie Cole, Gayle King, Yolanda Adams; middle: Melba Moore, Suzanne de Passe, Missy Elliott, Janet Jackson; front: Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, Halle Berry).
"We thank you for showing us
how to fly by flying."
—the young'uns, saluting the Legends with a poem by Pearl Cleage
Barbara Walters greets Coretta Scott King at the Legends Ball.
Oprah welcomes the dashing Sidney Poitier to her ball.
Tonya Lewis Lee and husband Spike escort Dionne Warwick into the ballroom.
Stedman takes in the crowd as Oprah cuts a rug in her Vera Wang ball gown.
Oprah threw an invigorating gospel brunch on Sunday. On that final day, guests sipping Bloody Marys and Bellinis walked among the giant redwoods on Oprah's front lawn. The mood now was friendly and elegiac; everyone had shared something extraordinary, and they were sad it was almost over. New and dear old friends chatted, and all were irresistibly drawn to a temporary bandstand when the singing started.
Terry McMillan and Usher join the joyful crowd at Sunday's gospel brunch.
James Brolin (in front of Jonathan Demme, John Travolta, and Kelly Preston), Oprah, Barbra Streisand, Nate Berkus, and Barack Obama sway in the shade to the music of the magnetic Edwin Hawkins singers.