Sanders, a native of St. Petersburg and a graduate of Gibbs High, will receive this honor in conjunction with the Tampa Bay area premiere of Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple – the Musical About Love, a project that Sanders envisioned for eight years before finally becoming a hit Broadway musical and eleven-time Tony® Award nominee.
Sanders worked closely with Alice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the novel to ensure her vision was incorporated in to the musical. He also enlisted the assistance of Grammy® Award winning producer Quincy Jones, Clearwater native and choreographer Donald Byrd and Academy® Award nominee and media mogul Oprah Winfrey over time.
“Sanders is one of the entertainment industry’s most creative and prolific entrepreneurs with a proven track record of producing quality entertainment properties for a variety of media,” noted Robert A. Freedman, Ruth Eckerd Hall President and CEO. “We are very proud to be the first performing arts center in the Tampa Bay area to present this incredible production,” he concluded.
Among his many credits in television and films, additional credits include Elaine Strich at Liberty, which won the 2002 Tony® Award and the HBO special of Elaine Stritch at Liberty, which won two Emmy® Awards, including one for Sanders for Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special. He has also partnered with Queen Latifah in a groundbreaking music partnership to record and produce her first vocal album, The Dana Owens Album. He is also widely credited with the historic turnaround of Radio City Music Hall in New York.