Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 7, Fox News and Marching Band Rehearsal

Tues., April 5, started at 7 am. (Kill me now; that’s the middle of the night for me.) Thank God there was a Yum Yum (my dictation software just typed that as Young Dumb) Donuts open in Southfield, the suburb of Detroit where Fox News is located. So I hit Young Dumb for a quick sugar infusion and rolled up the street to Fox in time to be on the morning news. Thank God the Green Room, one of the few actually painted green I’ve been in, had a nice, squishy couch. The donuts hadn’t quite kicked in yet.

The lighting in the studio definitely woke me up…

…though unfortunately, not quite enough.

The anchor interviewing me, Anqunette Jamison, was really nice and definitely had done her research. Nothing worse than waking up two hours after you’ve gone to bed to be interviewed by someone who wished that Reese Witherspoon was sitting across from them.

Driving back we passed this sign on a building, which emulated the discombobulated feeling I still had from being up before the crack of dawn and having to sound coherent.

We also passed vintage gems like this. I love that the pigeons have checked in.

I love any and all Deco/Streamline Moderne architecture.

Other than that second story looks like an add-on. Way too boxy and wrong kind of windows.  But excellent color scheme and at least the occupants had the good sense not to knock it down.

This wall killlllled me:

I took photos next to everyone and then it was on to Mumford, my high school and the main reason I was in Detroit that week, to conduct the marching band playing a medley of seven of my greatest hits with the cast of my musical, The Color Purple, that was playing at The Fox, the theater I grew up in.

My best friend from high school, Sherry (Erman) Stewart, went with me. Which was completely appropriate as it was Sherry I wrote my first song for at 15. She was running for class secretary and I wrote her campaign theme – “Oh vote for Sher-ry/fur (erman is a mink-like animal) sec-re-tar-ry”, kind of to the tune of “This Land Is Your Land” but not really. (Even in those days I thought about copyright infringement.) Here we are standing over the plug that was our mark to position ourselves over on stage for that most auspicious musical debut.

I hope someone saves me that plug when the wrecking ball hits the school next year (don’t get me started on wrecking balls hitting gorgeous Deco buildings…). I art-directed Sherry’s campaign as well.

It’s shocking looking at that from five decades ago how little my style has changed…. Sherry, btw, won the election!

Next it was watching the marching band, pom pom girls and twirlers rehearse for our big extravaganza coming up at The Fox on Saturday.

I was shocked (and awed) at how together they were.

Then John Wilkins, Mumford’s band conductor and arranger for over 20 years, asked me to come up and conduct the band.

First I warned the kids that despite selling over 50,000,000 records I still had no idea how to read, notate or play music.

Then we swung into action playing “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”, “Stir It Up”, “In the Stone”, “I’ll Be There for You (theme from Friends)”, and “The Color Purple”, the songs we’d be preforming.

Here I am with the Pom Pom Girls and Twirlers. This was, of course, what I always wanted to be when I was in high school. But this photo is as close as I ever got:

I know you’re going to ask me what “GRAMMI” is. I don’t know. Perhaps a misspelling of Grammy, which I misspelled constantly myself – Grammie – after receiving one for Best Soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop, the film that I not only had songs in but that immortalized my high school after Eddie Murphy wore a Mumford Phys Ed shirt throughout the movie, linking Mumford and I forever.

As we drove back to the hotel I finished the Young Dumb donut from this morning, though I was tempted to stop here, which I hear are the best donuts in Detroit:


Categories: Detroit, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, School, TV/Radio

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