Collective Soul

It began with gospel music on a small stage near the elephants at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Over its seven-year run, Cleveland's Multi Music Fest has grown from a modest event, where singers such as former American Idol contestant Scott Savol performed among wild animals, to a night full of R&B at the historic State Theatre. This year's benefit for the M.C. Chatman Center includes the Dramatics, the Chi-Lites and the Manhattans, who will take the stage Sept. 21 and perform songs such as the Dramatics' former No. 1 single, "Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get." Shaker Heights native Kym Whitley, who has played roles in films such as 2004's Along Came Polly and currently stars in the OWN reality show Raising Whitley, will host the night of music, performing stand-up and holding contests throughout the evening. Whitley gives us three reasons why Clevelanders should check out this comedy and music-filled benefit.

  Soul Patrol   You don't want to miss the soulful tunes of Chicago group and 2005 Vocal Group Hall of Fame inductees the Chi-Lites. "I love their high-pitched voices," Whitley says of the act she's most excited for this year. "That falsetto — it's just classic."

  Cleveland Connection   Whitley won't let you forget where the festival takes place. Excited to return to her hometown, the comedian plans to make the show Cleveland-centered with jokes and references about the city. "It will keep the crowd excited, and let them know that I am one of the celebrities that will always come back to Cleveland."

  Vocal Act   Come to the concert and you may catch Whitley performing with one of the groups. "If they would allow it, I would love to do a little background singing," she says. So, does Whitley have a history of singing? "Oh, no. When I start singing with them, I will probably get booed off stage."


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