Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Jukebox Tip Tray and My First Time Singing On Stage In Mannnnny Years…..

Mere days after my first and only album, Childstar, was released on Epic Records in 1974, I walked on stage in front of 10,000 people to open in Boston for folksinger David Bromberg.

The only other time I had been on stage before was when I played a little fur tree in a school play when I was 8. Now here I was singing soul music, the first 10 songs I ever wrote, plus a Mary Wells medley and Brenton Woods’s ”Oogum Boogum”. My band, the singers of whom would go on to become Chic, were dressed as sequined vegetables and I was in a satin suit that I’d autographed from head to toe. This is a really crappy photo of part of the costumes on mannequins but it’s all I’ve got;

Me and The Angle Babies aren’t in costume here but you can get a pretty good idea that between us and our costumes we weren’t what the folksinging crowd came to see.

I didn’t have a very good time on stage. I never could remember my lyrics and I always spent more time designing the sets and costumes than I did rehearsing or getting comfortable being on stage. After five performances on the East Coast we were booked into a lunchroom at Ohio State, the only way the college could also get Joni Mitchell to play in the main auditorium because we had the same agent. Our only audience were three people at a bridge table eating hot dogs and a psychology class being conducted in the back of the room, with the professor telling us to lower our volume after every song. I walked offstage after six songs and made the decision to just be a songwriter, where at least if I was being tortured it was in the comfort of my own room.

Through the years I’ve gotten much more comfortable performing – in my own unique way of doing so which doesn’t include singing live – mostly because I’m a big party thrower and walk around on mic the whole time.

Almost every conversation I have comes through the speakers and I’m literally directing and producing the party as I go. Throw in the thrift shop auctions and stupid party games that I lead the guests through and I’ve gotten very relaxed holding that cold metal thing in my hands.

But I still never have gotten it together to sing anywhere other than in the studio.

So the fact that in mere hours I will be up on the stage for the first time in almost four decades and I’m not sitting here throwing up is a MASSIVE ACHIEVEMENT! Me and five other well oiled songwriters will be singing our greatest hits and talking about how they were written. It’s just with a keyboard – Chris Price, who I’ve been writing and recording a song with and shooting a video all on iPhones, is accompanying me –  but I’m singing and remembering lyrics and lines nonetheless.

And if I can get through the evening not thinking about soul singers dressed as vegetables, psychology professors and hot dogs I will have made a big breakthrough.

I’ll be performing “September“, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”, and “I’ll Be There for You (theme from Friends)“. At least radio has regaled me with these songs thousands of times over the years so I’m hoping that for once I can remember my own lyrics and be happy I’m up on stage.

Wish me luck!

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Categories: Accessories, Afro, Art, Boogie Wonderland, Creative process, Creativity, Disco, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Fashion, Friends theme, Games, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Neutron Dance, Party, School, Self expression, September, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! Part 9, The City By Car

Wednesday, April 6, had tremendous potential. (L-R) Mark Blackwell and Laura Grover, both of whom worked on putting the whole Detroit extravaganza together with me, and I were being driven around the city by Michael Poris, one of the architects leading the charge to rebuild Detroit. The Majestic Theater is one of his projects.

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Categories: Architecture, Creativity, Detroit, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Financial, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Place, School, Sculpture, Self expression, Sign, Songwriting, The Color Purple, Transportation, Travel

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Oops, I thought I’d be back in action….

My intentions were good. I was gonna wake up and spring back into action as I haven’t blogged regularly in over a week but my body still feels like it’s broken into 13 million pieces and I need a recuperation day from one of the greatest weeks in my life in Detroit that included giving a speech about the rejuvenation of the city, conducting my beloved Mumford high school marching band playing a medley of some of my greatest hits and, for the first time since my musical, The Color Purple, opened five years ago, conducting part of the show. My spirits are HIGH, like being powered by a hemi engine, but I need time to decompress, not to mention unpack my seven suitcases, go through the thousands of photos that were taken, begin transferring the close to 75 videotapes that were amassed, and somehow attempt to get back to my everyday life of music and mayhem in Los Angeles. So give me 24 and I hope to be back with something soon…

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Categories: Afro, Creativity, Detroit, Discography, empowerment, Forgot to Categorize, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, School, Self expression, Songwriting, The Color Purple

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Allee Willis Marches on Detroit! – A Benefit for Mumford High School

Next week I’m going back to my home town, Detroit, to conduct my high school marching band playing a medley of my greatest hits in the lobby of the theater I grew up in before a performance of my musical, The Color Purple, with the cast leading a sing-along.  It’s a fundraiser to buy new uniforms for the Mumford marching band because with over 40 kids in the band, some of them are still marching around in threads from when I were there.  Although I never made marching band as I never learned to play an instrument. I never learned how to read music either which should make my conducting this event most interesting to say the least!

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Categories: Detroit, empowerment, Financial, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, School, Self expression, The Color Purple

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My Song Sung to Oprah on The Kennedy Center Honors TONIGHT, Tues., Dec. 28!

Sorry this is so last-minute (not as sorry as I am for that crazy smile on my face) but if you have a chance to catch or TiVo The Kennedy Center Honors tonight, Jennifer Hudson is singing my song, “I’m Here”, to Oprah when she gets her honor. The Kennedy Center Honors are on CBS, I think at 9 pm. I’m told it’s toward the beginning of the show but with this said, you never know how things are going to be edited and whether the song is going to be there or not. But I have a lot of friends who were there and said it’s fantastic. Of course, it’s a great honor to know that “I’m Here” is part of such an honor for Oprah!

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Categories: Afro, Awards, Celebrity, Creativity, empowerment, Film, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, People, Songwriting, The Color Purple, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – What The Kitschiest House In LA Looks Like At Christmas

Anyone who’s ever driven past Norwood Young’s house in LA knows that it’s a prime candidate for a Kitschmas smorgasbord unlike all others. Depending on who you talk to, known affectionately or despicably as the House of Davids, it has enough wrought iron to circle the White House, all of which protects the 21 statues of David that line the driveway upon which usually sits Norwood’s jewel encrusted Rolls Royce. Here’s what Youngwood Court, as it’s officially known, looks like all year except December:

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Categories: Afro, Architecture, Art, bad art, Creativity, empowerment, Hats, Holidays, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Los Angeles, People, Place, Sculpture, Self expression

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – “Do It Now” Napkin Holder

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In a couple of hours I’m speaking on a panel called “In The Biz In LA – For artists who act, direct, produce, edit, write, or administrate” led by my pal Barbara Deutsch, who I’ve been friends with since we were both secretaries at Columbia and Epic Records in 1969. Here’s what I was told to prepare: “If you were to only give the audience 3 pieces of advice that you have learned personally for the industry or life, what would it be? Feel free to be profound or silly.” There are many big deal  tv and film directors and producers, casting directors, managers and agents on the panel. Everyone’s got big fat credits. When I’m on panels like this I find a lot of people giving very practical information.  Despite the fact that I too have those big fat credits much of my career has been on the outskirts of the entertainment behemoths, self funded to insure maximum creative freedom so I could do what was in my head, usually a combo of “profound and silly”, and not spit out works by committee and become a depressed albeit wealthy artist. I’ve always had a lust to combine “hi” and “lo” aspects of art within the same work and this doesn’t usually fly when creating by committee.

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Categories: Accessories, empowerment, Furniture and Housewares, Kitchen, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Self expression

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – You Are What You Drive

stude

I’ve long said that everything about and around a person is a vehicle for self-expression. I mean the way you dress, how you decorate your living space, your hair, the plaster frog family on your front lawn, everything in your personal, physical and virtual environments is a canvas on and through which you show the world who you are. The driveway at The Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch at AWMOK.com is packed with cars, campers and trucks that scream the personality of the person behind the wheel. Here are but a few examples of some such “I Am” vehicles.  Click any of them for more info.

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Categories: Advertising/ Promotion, empowerment, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Sculpture, Self expression, Technology

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1950′s “Sponge Cloth”

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Long before Mr. Clean and Magic Sponge promised fewer steps and happy housewives came Harwood’s Sponge Cloth, one of many modern miracle kitchen products offered for the first time in history in the post-war Atomic Age to ladies of the kitchen.  As chemicals developed for warfare or space travel like Teflon were trickling down to pots and pans, linoleum floors and kitchen counters, the Sponge Cloth promised to be a “Sponge and Dishcloth in One!” that “Cleans and Dries in One Stroke!” “Wet•squeeze•use” and for 35¢ lives were changed because now there was more time to run into the next room and enjoy the revolution happening in the living room, television.

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Categories: Accessories, empowerment, Kitchen, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – 1970′s Streaker Pendant

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Cheap jewelry is always a popular breeding ground for Kitsch. Kitsch glitz  shines especially bright when designs are made to capitalize on popular trends such as the streaking craze that began in the 1960′s and attained astronomical heights when a peace signing streaker crashed the 1974 Academy Awards blazing behind actor David Niven. From that point on, streaking was  as glorified in all forms of design, from T-shirts to decals to plaster figurines to the kind of tacky finery you see here.

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Categories: Accessories, empowerment, Fashion, Health & Beauty, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Nature

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