tlc palm springs

TLC Beams With Pride

In its 33rd year, the Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival lures Grammy-winners TLC into a fiery weekend packed with entertainment, events, and enough rainbow-flag revelry to make anyone proud.

GREG ARCHER Current Digital, LGBT

tlc palm springs
TLC, one of the biggest-selling female R&B groups in history, performs Saturday night (Nov. 2) at Greater Palm Springs Pride.
PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY GREATER PALM SPRINGS PRIDE

The Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival turns 33 in 2019. In human years, that might translate into a time to trade in the skinny jeans, but anyway you look at it, this season’s Pride outing is still a perfect fit for the valley.

The three-day festival, which unfolds Nov. 1-3 in downtown Palm Springs and boasts the theme, Millions of Moments of Pride, features a bevy of entertainment and events that are bound to inspire the masses. TLC, the four-time Grammy-winning all-girl group hits the stage Saturday, Nov. 2 but expect nearly 100 other acts to perform throughout the packed-to-the-brim weekend.

Don’t’ forget: Sunday morning’s lavish Pride Parade along Palm Canyon Drive begins at 10 a.m.

Other standouts at this year’s soiree include The Arenas District Merchants Association’s weekend of Pop, Drag, and Rock ’n’ Roll performances, which tosses singer Heather Small, DJ Lee Dagger of Bimbo Jones, Kristine W, and the incomparable legend, Maxine Nightingale into the mix of talent. Emcees Bella da Ball and Alexander Rodriquez will also be on hand. Check the Palm Springs Pride website (pspride.org) for the full lowdown.

• READ NEXT: Artists Marconi Calindas and Stephen Baumbach give makeovers to a pair of pianos for everyone to enjoy during Pride.

In the meantime, there’s TLC, one of the biggest-selling female R&B groups in history, blending the best sort of pop, hip-hop, and urban soul. The group performs a 60-minute concert on Saturday night. Formed in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1990, TLC at the time was comprised of Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, Tionne “T-boz” Watkins and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. They garnered four multi-platinum albums and four No. 1 soul-stirring singles — from Creep and No Scrubs to Unpretty, a bold body-positive endeavor, and Waterfalls, perhaps the most prominent HIV/AIDS-awareness anthems of all time.

All music groups have their ups and downs and TLC was not immune — from managing fame to surviving bankruptcy. Lopes died in an unfortunate car accident in 2002 but Thomas and Watkins still carry the torch today.

Palm Springs Life caught up with Watkins to learn more about TLC’s message and other notables.

What have you appreciated about Palm Springs whenever you’ve come here?

I came out there for a solo project I was doing and I particularly loved the mountains. But I loved those outlet malls as well. [Laughs].

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Tionne “T-boz” Watkins

You’re from Iowa and then grew up in Atlanta. What was it like emerging onto the music scene from there?

Atlanta had its own sound and vibe, and it was pretty amazing. The style of dancing was unique so all of the dancing that I learned as a girl, and later as a choreographer, I applied to TLC. It worked well in the world.

The group has won four Grammys. What do you feel fans resonate with?

I think they relate to the music. It doesn’t have a color or an age. Anybody can relate to our songs. There’s substance there.

Is there a particular message you might want to convey this year at Pride?

Well, I think our music speaks for itself. But if there’s anything, maybe it’s to remind people that our music stands for being yourself and being strong. It’s perfect for Pride. But I can recall people coming up to us and telling us how this song or that song really helped them through a particular time in their lives. When we did the song Waterfalls, HIV/AIDS was a big epidemic at the time — it still is big in the world — but I think the song gives a message that somebody is out there with you, standing by your side, helping you fight the fight — whatever that is.

The 33rd Annual 2019 Palm Springs Pride Festival takes place Nov. 1-3 in downtown Palm Springs on Arenas Road and on Palm Canyon Drive (check website for specific times). The Pride parade takes place 10 a.m. to noon Nov. 3 from Tachevah and Palm Canyon Drives and travels south along North Palm Canyon Drive. For a full list of events and more details, visit pspride.org.

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Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas