ATLANTIC CITY — One of the dreams of singer Angela Burton, a native of the resort, came true Thursday afternoon in the conference room at City Hall.
Mayor Don Guardian gave Burton his own personal key to the city, which he received in 2014, in one of his last acts as mayor in front of a dozen of her friends and family members.
“I want to thank you for thinking of me,” said Burton, who also thanked previous Mayors Lorenzo Langford and the late James L. Usry. “I have been so blessed.”
A lifelong resident, Burton has been entertaining visitors and local people for close to 40 years with her jazzy version of soul music, both in her selection of cover songs and her original tunes.
Burton and her band Passion opened for headliners who appeared at the famous, but now defunct, Club Harlem on Kentucky Avenue.
Burton also has performed at the Kentucky Avenue Renaissance Festival and at concerts held at Historic Gardner’s Basin. In recent years, she has performed at Kelsey’s soul food restaurant on Pacific Avenue and will be back there again Feb. 23, she said.
Burton has served as a goodwill ambassador for the U.S. Armed Forces and participated in USO shows through the years that took her to nearly 35 countries.
“The only elements that outshine Angela’s talents are her compassion, grace and kindness,” said Guardian, who repeated what was written in the proclamation for her Hometown Hero honor from earlier this year.
Guardian said he has known Burton for about 25 years and has enjoyed her music. While the city has been going through trying times financially, she has always been willing to volunteer to sing the national anthem at events, if necessary, Guardian said.
City Councilman Kaleem Shabazz attended the presentation and spoke glowingly of Burton.
“You deserve all the accolades. ... You are an Atlantic City treasure,” said Shabazz, who is also president of the Atlantic City NAACP. “You are an example for young people of how they can use their talent, how they can showcase their talent, how they can be in the entertainment world with dignity and pride.”
A Passion bass player, Derek Cason, attended the ceremony. Cason, a city resident, said he had some of the most memorable times of his life overseas with Burton.
“We were on the North Korean border on July 4,” said Cason about a trip years ago. “We were scared to death. We had to sign a waiver that if we were shot, we would not hold the government responsible.”
Another city resident and Burton bassist, Bruce Mobley, would have been attendance. He worked with her for more than 40 years, but he was in the hospital Thursday, she said.
“Please keep him in your prayers,” Burton said.
Burton, who added it was a dream come true for her to receive a key to her city, joins an illustrious list of entertainers who were previously given a key to the resort, most of them legends, including Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Chicago.
Burton may be honored again the the very near future.
Shabazz said he would bring up the idea of naming a city street after Burton in the near future at a City Council meeting.