The news for the New Orleans arts community is sad today. Gloria Powers, the executive director of the Big Easy Entertainment Awards, is about to take to the heavenly stage after her busy life here on earth. In recent days some have begun to refer to her as "Mama Glo," perhaps a tribute to her deeply nurturing spirit or to acknowledge the fact that she is to many in the New Orleans music, theatre and dance communities a second mother. Gloria suffered a debilitating pontine stroke a week ago and doctors have advised that her chance for recovery is slim. Although she is breathing on her own, the family has girded itself for what they believe will be her final transition. Like no one else that I know, Gloria can move easily from one artistic sphere to another. She is equally at home talking to a Mardi Gras Indian Queen as she can be to a member of the New Orleans Opera Association or to a local ballet mistress. Her ability to integrate with such widely divergent artists is one of her great strengths. Her ability to empathize with artists and to petition on their behalf has been nothing short of amazing. Gloria has been a tireless promoter for all things that are unique to New Orleans including its Creole heritage, its history and its vibrant music scene I, myself, owe a great deal of my journalistic career to Gloria's insistent push that I be a member of not one, but two Big Easy Awards committees (Theatre and Opera and Classical Music). She never failed to make me feel special in what I was doing and to let me know that my dedication was appreciated. Gloria is a force of nature and it is sad to think of her as in the process of leaving. Her special friendship has been extended across New Orleans to hundreds, if not not thousands, and I pray that she is surrounded now by the positive energy of well-meaning family and friends who hope for the best for her.