Centric summer bash a hip-hop hit on Martha’s Vineyard

Doug E. Fresh plays to a packed house. — Photo by Susan Safford

The Centric television party seemed to be roaring along just fine. Sequins sparkled and cameras flashed on the red carpet. Beautiful people jammed the dance floor at Lola’s, as D-Nice worked old-school magic with his turntables. Hot food, cold drinks, and good feelings flowed in abundance.

But apparently, the A-list Islanders, summer visitors, and network executives who turned out in Oak Bluffs Tuesday evening for the Centric third anniversary party were unaware that the festivities had yet to begin.

Hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh, the night’s musical guest, took care of that, as soon as he grabbed a microphone.

“Ladies and gentlemen: The party…starts…now,” he said. “Don’t worry, I got this under control.”

With that, and a teeth-rattling bass beat, the already pulsing party kicked up to full throb.

The hip-hop enhanced sounds ranged from the Jackson Five to Frank Sinatra, and everything in between. Sponsors Hennessy, Barbados Tourism, and Comcast all helped jack up the energy.

Among those seen on the scene were Motown mogul Berry Gordy, ABC newswoman Carole Simpson, NBA standout Alonzo Mourning, and VH1 personality Janell Snowden.

The blow-out bash thrown by Centric, the African-American oriented cable channel spun off from Black Entertainment Televison (BET) three years ago, has quickly become a highlight of the summer. It is a tough ticket.

“There has been a lot of demand, the momentum is building each year,” said Depelsha McGruder, Centric’s senior vice-president for business operations, and an Island visitor since her days at the Harvard Business School. “There’s a long history of African-Americans coming to the Vineyard. They are exactly the target market we’re trying to reach.”