Dr. Gerald Berke found out what R-E-S-P-E-C-T meant to him at the UCLA Head and Neck Surgery’s 2014 Luminary Awards Wednesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
Intro’d by the evening’s host Wayne Newton, a UCLA gospel choir welcomed the crowd by performing Kool & The Gang’s “Celebrate,” Jackson 5’s “ABC” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.”
Although singer John Mayer, Dianne and James Bashor, and Ann and Jerry Moss were honored with the Luminary Awards, each of them lauded UCLA and Dr. Gerald Berke’s work.
“He probably didn’t know who I was,” Mayer joked in his acceptance speech. “‘Who’s John Mayer? I’m too busy cloning a throat.’”
Mayer, who was referred to Berke after being diagnosed with a granuloma of the vocal chords, became an avid supporter and friend after the treatment allowed him to tour again. At one of his concerts at the Hollywood Bowl soon after, Mayer paused halfway through his sold-out show to graciously thank Berke for getting him “singing on the stage again” after acknowledging that it had been a “long road.”
“I happened to learn that the voice is an instrument,” Mayer said. “Nobody sees that instrument as delicately as carefully as phenomenally as Dr. Berke and his colleagues.”
Mayer proceeded to perform his hit song “Daughters” and a new song, “Dear Marie,” which is off of his newest album, “Paradise Valley.”
After Mayer entertained the guests, dinner was served followed by a performance from the Plácido Domingo Singers of the L.A. Opera.
The evening culminated with a performance from special guest Celine Dion, who was also a patient of Berke’s.
Proceeds from the gala will benefit the Department of Head and Neck Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.