Alicia Keys, Wynton Marsalis and More Perform at Ruby Dee Memorial Service in New York City

By Ryan Book, The Music Times | Sep 21, 2014 08:12 AM EDT

Actress Ruby Dee was honored by musicians and celebrities of other stripes at a memorial event held in her hometown of New York on Saturday. Among the musical acts in attendance were Alicia Keys, Harry Belafonte, Wynton Marsalis and Peter Yarrow

Keys performed the song "Superwoman" and claimed it was at least in part inspired by Dee. The singer said the actress "touched me in such a deep, deep way as a young woman." Belafonte did not perform but delivered a eulogy for his longtime friend. 

The most interesting moment of the ceremony occurred when a letter from President Obama and wife Michelle was read. The pair recalled their first date, when they saw Dee perform in Spike Lee's film Do The Right Thing

"The gifts she shared will forever be dear to us," the letter read. "She helped throw open the doors of opportunity."

Earlier reports from Billboard suggested that noted Broadway actress Audra McDonald and film actress Angela Bassett would also be singing, but the New York Daily News said the duo were unable to attend. 

Dee passed away from natural causes at the age of 91 during June. Immediately following her death, the Apollo Theater marquee read "A True Apollo Legend Ruby Dee 1922-2014." 

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