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 14, THE VIDEO

As I’ve been blabbing about for weeks now, I had the extreme pleasure of conducting my high school marching band playing a medley of some of my greatest hits in the lobby of the theater I grew up in in Detroit with the cast of the musical I co-wrote, The Color Purple, singing along. I meant to post video of our performance as soon as I got home but to my horror, one of the three cameramen only shot the students from the back and the other both forgot to turn his camera on for parts of songs and babbled over the footage like he was the subject of a documentary. So it took quite a lot of editing to get something where you could even begin to see the  warm, wonderful and uplifting-higher-than-the-sky feeling that permeated the theater that day.

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Categories: Boogie Wonderland, Detroit, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, Friends theme, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Neutron Dance, Party, School, Self expression, September, Songwriting, The Color Purple, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – If You’re Heading To SXSW….

…come see me and my latest piece of technology, this 1960′s wrist transisitor radio, on the “Indie Success: Caching in on Collaboration” panel, Tuesday March 15, 11:00AM at the Hilton, Salon C, 500 East 4th Street. Here’s what me and my wrist accessory will be talking about:

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Categories: Art, Brands, Creative process, Creativity, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, Educational, Friends theme, Interactivity, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Self expression, Silicon Valley, Social networks, Songwriting, Technology, Travel

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Dinah-Mite and the Dyn-O-Miteness of Jenifer Lewis

I love things that are ‘off’ but born of popular trends and then spin off into their own orbit, making a firm landing on the terra firma of Pop Culture themselves. In the early 1970′s, Mego Toys, the po’ cousin of popular doll brands like Barbie, did just that, popping out one cheaply made, shabbily dressed femme fatale after another.

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Categories: Afro, Celebrity, Fashion, Film, Friends theme, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Self expression, Songwriting, The Color Purple

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – UW Marching Band Conductor and One Of The Best Days Of My Life-Part 2

UW-vid-icon

I LOVVVVED conducting! I hope that’s evident in this clip. I’m grateful I got the footage I did though I’d planned to have at least five times as much of it to edit from. But as the journey below illustrates, the path was a little more crooked than I’d anticipated though well worth every swing of the drumstick!

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Categories: Creative process, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, Fashion, Friends theme, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Place, Self expression, September, Songwriting, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Murder, She Wrote Board Game

murder-she-wrote-game_3658

I never really watched Murder, She Wrote during its run on CBS from 1984-1996. I was in a very heavy songwriting and technology phase and although I always had the TV on – or should I say TVs as I had 28 of them at the time, one against every wall in each room so I wouldn’t miss a moment – I never had the sound up. All I ever watched then anyway were comedies. I didn’t have the patience for any of the more complex murder shows. To appreciate and understand what was going on in them I would have needed the sound up and once that happened it became more about me listening to the score and looking at the hairdos and fashions than actually following the plot. Following the intricacies of a murder case demands concentration. Just like trying to figure out how to play the Murder, She Wrote game does:

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Categories: Advertising/ Promotion, Celebrity, Friends theme, Games, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, TV/Radio

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Badly Translated Friend Straws

Friends-flex-straws_0599

The package reads “Let’s try homeparty fashionably and have a joyful chat with nice fellow.” And all it takes is a straw! For years after I co-wrote the Friends theme song I received gifts that had the word ‘friend’ as part of their title. Without question, these Fujinami flexstraws are one of my favorites. Who could resist sucking on such sage advice? 

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Categories: Bar accessory, Drink, Friends theme, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day

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The Reality Of Being A Songwriter

grammy-winning-85 Winning the Grammy in 1986

Yesterday I wrote an open email to a widely read music industry newsletter re the longstanding mistreatment of songwriters in the entertainment industry, veering off into the music industry ignoring the Internet until it had almost swallowed them up. Today, Mark Cuban posted this on his Facebook page which led to it spreading virally. I’ve had so many people email me and send me Facebook messages today I decided to post what I wrote myself:

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Categories: Art, Consumer Alert!, Creativity, Discography, Financial, Friends theme, Interactivity, Lyrics, Music, Neutron Dance, People, Self expression, Social networks, Songwriting, Technology, willisville

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