Frank Ski, Ludacris, Dallas Austin team up for charity

Longtime radio broadcaster Frank Ski will emcee and rapper-actor Ludacris will be in the house at the annual Atlanta’s Best Cellars Dinner, coming up Sept. 19 at the InterContinental Buckhead. Producer Dallas Austin, vocal coach to the stars Jan Smith, songwriter/producer  Bryan - Michael Cox, CNN host and country music recording artist Robin Meade  and other music industry titans are involved as well.

Frank Ski will emcee the upcoming Atlanta's Best Cellars Dinner fundraiser. Photo: Rodney Ho
Ludacris, shown at the recent Ushers New Look awards, is one of the sponsors of the upcoming Atlanta's Best Cellars Dinner. Photo: Moses Robinson/Getty Images

The fun and festive event gives supporters a chance to sample superb vintages while raising money for Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and for the T.J. Martell Foundation, which supports leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.

Producer and Atlanta's Best Cellars Dinner co-chairman Chaka Zulu, left, and entertainment industry consultant Don Perry, an entertainment advisory board co-chairman for the event, at a cocktail party for patrons held recently at Greenberg Traurig. Photos: Ben Rose

The reception starts at 7 p.m. The dinner, auction and dancing begin at 8 p.m. Attire is "Grammy chic," in keeping with the event's close ties to the music world. Industry executive Tony Martell launched the foundation as his son T.J. was fighting leukemia in 1973.

"He asked me to raise a million dollars for cancer research so that 'no one else will have to experience what I am going through,'” Tony Martell recalled. "Although I had no fundraising experience, I agreed. T.J. died at the age of 19, and that put my promise in cement. Soon after, I was joined by many of my friends in the music industry like Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington to hold a fundraiser at Buddy Rich’s nightclub in New York. We raised $50,000 and the T.J. Martell Foundation was born."

Over the years the organization, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Nashville and holds events in the east coast, west coast and Southern regions, has raised more than $270 million for leukemia, cancer and AIDS research.

Thomas W. Dortch Jr., chairman emeritus of 100 Black Men of America, and his wife Carole, are serving as wine host co-chairs for the 2015 Atlanta's Best Cellars Dinner. Photos: Ben Rose

This year’s Atlanta event is chaired by Ernest Greer, Bea Perez, Rod Windley and Chaka Zulu with Cyndae Arrendale, Jack Sawyer, Kirk Posmantur and Gary Snyder serving as vice chairs. Bernard Parks, Don Perry and Steve Smith are serving as entertainment advisory board chairs and the guest chef de cuisine is Jérôme Grilhot. Dawn and Eric Tresh and Carole and Thomas W. Dortch Jr. are wine host co-chairs.

Joel Katz, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Thomas W. Dortch Jr. at the Best Cellars patron party. Photos: Ben Rose

Presenting sponsor is the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which hosted a recent cocktail party for patrons. The Best Seller sponsor is Wilmington Trust.

Committee members include Bill Anton, Larry Beckwith, Rudy Beserra, Rebecca Bily, Ted Blum, Jim Chappuis, Elaine and John Carlos, Walter Curran, Ralph Delgado, Mark Fillion, Jim Jacoby, Lynn-Anne Huck, Catherine Jones, Kane and Joel Katz, Randy Kessler, Sagar Lonial, Ian Macdonald, Paul Reams, Louise Sams, Linda and Steve Selig, Todd Tautfest, Bill Torres, and Cindy and Bill Voyles.

Sponsors Steve and Linda Selig. Photos: Ben Rose

The late Dr. Bobbie Bailey, an entrepreneur and philanthroper whose public memorial was held at the Dr. Bobbie Bailey and Family Performance Center at Kennesaw State University, had joined the committee before she died July 25 at 87.

The entertainment advisory board includes Sharliss Asbury, Dallas Austin, Morris Baxter, Catherine Brewton, Charlie Brusco, Michele Caplinger, Willie Carter, Lonnie Cooper, Bryan-Michael Cox, Shanti Das, Jeff Dauler, David Innes, Charles Johnson, Niko Karatassos, Pano Karatassos, Jamal Lewis, Robin Meade, Rasheed Muhammad, Beatriz Perez, Keith Perissi, Robert Polay, Reggie Rouse, Frank Ski, Jan Smith, Devyne Stephens, LaRonda Sutton and Michael Taormina.

The wine host committee includes Logan Allin, ONEHOPE Wine, Danielle and Peter Bouharoun, Matt Bradford, Canoe's Cellar Door, Patrick Brendel, Atlantic Wine, John Carlos, National Distributing Company, Rick Carter, Island View Casino Resort, Lonnie Cooper, CSE, Sheryl Evertson and David Covell, Avenue Catering Concepts, Miguel Diaz, the Buckhead Club, Laura Heatherly, the T.J. Martell Foundation, Lance Jaglarski, The Palm Restaurant, Katie and West Johnson, Niko Karatassos, Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Kane and Joel Katz, Katie and Steven Marcet, Tara and Darrell Mays, Ginair and George McKerrow Jr., Hal Nowak, Hal's on Old Ivy, Monica Pantaja, The Juice Box, Kirk Posmantur, Axcess Worldwide, Todd Rushing, Concentrics Restaurants, John Sholota, Hemisphere Wines, Frank Ski, The Frank Ski Show, Jon Skinner, Le Bilboquet, Christopher Soluri, Fine Wine Connection, Christina and Brandon Tai, Michael Venezia, United Distributors and Linda and Rod Windley.

Patron sponsorships begin at $1,500 per couple. See for more information.

Joel A. Katz, chair of the Global Media & Entertainment Practice at Greenberg Traurig and chairman emeritus of the annual Atlanta's Best Cellars fundraiser, hosted a party for sponsors of this year's event. Photos: Ben Rose

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About the Author

Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett
Jennifer Brett is a multiplatform journalist and digital coach. She writes The Buzz blog for