By: Tony McCray
Admiral “L’Spi-Del” LeRoy Jr., founder and publisher of Out Front Magazine, held a “Holiday Music Showcase” at the Flora-Bama Lounge in Warrington on Gulf Beach Highway this past Monday, December 19th. The Admiral stated to the Gulf Coast Voice, “This is my last event with Out Front Magazine and concludes a year-long celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the magazine!”
Admiral LeRoy partnered with Joe Gilchrist, who launched the Flora-Bama Lounge in 1978, to sponsor three celebratory affairs celebrating the 25th Silver Anniversary of New Beginnings Publishing/Out Front Magazine.
On July 11th, there was the “Kick-Off Party” at the New Malibu. The next celebration was on September 19th, which was branded as the “End of Summer Beachwear Party. Once again, on December 19th, Admiral Leroy served as executive producer of the celebratory event assisted by the awesome team of Angelina Wheat, Mamie Hixon, Tracey LeRoy, and Kim Washington to assemble and promote an impressive end to a year-long anniversary celebration. Of course, the New Malibu Lounge and Grill played a huge role in the effort.
Admiral Leroy took the stage to thank his sponsors – Cox Communications, Gulf Power Company, Miller Coors Company, the Studer Group, Centennial Motors, and Joe Gilchrist. He was emphatic that he’s stepping down as the publisher of Out Front Magazine. He stated that he loves entertainment, but he feels that it is time for him to turn over the enterprise to his niece, Angelina Wheat, and his two daughters Tracey LeRoy and Kim Washington (who both actually own the publication).
The entertainment was provided by Platinum Premier Band with Misty Lane as the lead vocalist and Rose Williams, a local vocalist who sat in with the band. Admiral Leroy spoke about the time when he and Rose went to Birmingham to make her first recording in 1968. These performers rocked the New Malibu to put the final touch on an evening of entertainment and fellowship.
Out Front Magazine is a bi-monthly lifestyle publication with a special interest in music and entertainment. The magazine primarily serves the Greater Pensacola, Northwest Florida, South Alabama, and the Greater Gulf Coast (from New Orleans to Tallahassee) African American communities. The magazine enjoys additional circulation and distribution around the Southeastern United States with writers of various ages, perspectives, and geographical representations.
During the first five years, there were times when Admiral LeRoy wanted to give up and walk away from the business. However, it was Dr. Donald Dale Spence, Woodrow Cushon, and Lester Smith of the Ambassador Club who motivated him during the early years to keep the magazine alive along with Bobbie Weaver and Philip Stewart. Then, there was Ms. Gladys Morris of the Joe Morris Funeral Home that would give LeRoy a pick-me-up counseling. The Admiral also spoke of Tony McCray, Sr. who he said knew him from the Little League Baseball League when he was 9 years old and would seem to always come by and check on him when he needed the motivation and inspiration to get out there and sell the advertisement for the magazine. According to LeRoy, those friends and advisors helped him to reach the 25-year anniversary plateau.