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    Jeffrey Osborne and his famous friends raise money for R.I. charities

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    It’s been a long time since Jeffrey Osborne called Rhode Island home — the 67-year-old singer grew up in Providence — but the Ocean State remains near and dear to his heart.

    That’s why Osborne (inset) is flying some of his famous friends in for the Jeffrey Osborne Classic, a three-day event that raises money for six Rhode Island charities. Barry Bonds is coming. So are Sugar Ray Leonard, George Lopez, Chris Tucker, and Smokey Robinson.

    “There are [charity] golf tournaments almost every day in Los Angeles, so we reciprocate,’’ Osborne told the Globe. “I fly them in first class, but once they get here, they see how beautiful Rhode Island is, and they have such a good time, they come back every year.’’


    We chatted with Osborne the other day while he was prepping for Sunday’s kick-off event, a comedy show hosted by Lopez, and featuring Tucker, Cedric the Entertainer, and Sinbad at the Providence Performing Arts Center.

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    The singer, whose early ’80s albums established him as a serious artist, has spent most of his adult life in California. But he’s been hosting the charity golf tourney in Rhode Island for four years.

    Monday, there will be a celeb-heavy softball game at McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. The game will pit Osborne’s friends against New England Patriots alumni. That night, there will be a reception at Carnegie Abbey in Portsmouth that will include a silent auction hosted by Lakers great Magic Johnson. Everyone hits the Carnegie Abbey golf course Tuesday, with a dinner that night.

    The golf tournament is sold out, but tickets are still available for the other events. Osborne said the reception and gala are special for the sponsors, but his celebrity guests always seem to enjoy themselves, too.

    “Frankly, sometimes these dinners are a little boring,” he said. “So we say, ‘You know why you’re here, so let’s have fun!’ ”


    Last year, Osborne was joined on stage by Robinson, Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire, as well as members of the O’Jays and Bell Biv DeVoe.

    “By the end of the night, everyone was dancing and jamming. It was a great time,” he said.

    This year, proceeds will go to six charities: Amos House, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, Boys & Girls Clubs of Providence, MET School, St. Mary’s Home for Children, and Button Hole Golf, a nine-hole Providence course with a program that teaches kids how to golf.

    “I’m having to say no to [celebrities] who want to come,” Osborne said. “There’s only so much room on the golf course.”