BaDeYa, Detroit! – Allee LIVE in The D, FINALLY……

For the past few few years now on the “BaDeYa, say do you remember 21st night of September”, my blessed and magic day because it’s the first line in the first hit record I ever had, I’ve made a tradition of performing live, something that took me over three decades to get together. Other than last year when I was in Detroit conducting one of the 50 sing-alongs for ”The D”, the unofficial official theme song I cowrote for Detroit, in a laundromat with people essentially spinning around in dryers while singing.

As luck would have it, THIS year was a particularly special September 21st as just a couple days earlier NPR did a story on why “September”, co-written with Maurice White and Al McKay, remains such a timeless song, symbolizing warmth, love, and soul.

This year September 21 was even more special because I decided to perform live for the very first time EVER in Detroit, my beloved hometown for whom I’ve (unofficially) been slaving away on a project, “The D”, a record and multiple music videos, and Allee Willis Loves Detroit, a feature length film, for the last 2 1/2 years. As such, my co-writer and partner on the music portion of the project, Andrae Alexander, and I put together a 15 piece band made up of the very best musicians and singers we found during the 50 D sing-alongs we led last year to perform live with us in the show, BaDeYa, Detroit!.

We also wanted to give everyone a preview of the song which finally has a preliminary mix after over a solid year of trying to deal with 5000 vocal and instrument  tracks, each one with up to hundreds of voices on them. There’s just so much room in the sound spectrum and every inch of it we have taken up truly sounds like something you have never heard before. We also gave the audience a sneak peak at the beginnings of the first of many music videos to follow.  (Sorry – no preview here; only a few shots so you can see it ain’t no normal thang and to insure that you get the full punch once the first video’s actually delivered.)

For an artist such as myself who dotes on every detail of a stage production from designing the invitations to handmaking the set, picking theme food, designing the merchandise, casting people who help us like I’m casting characters in a musical, shipping 20 crates of everything to Detroit, directing, co-producing, and doing just about everything else involved in a production – albeit all with fantastic collaborators – this was no easy feat. And performing out of town for essentially the first time in my adult life makes that even harder. But don’t even ask me how worth it it was!!! Easily one of the best days/nights of my life was this “21st (almost) night of September”!

We performed at United Sound, a still-in-existence historic recording studio in Detroit where everyone from Charlie Parker to The Rolling Stones and some of my all-time favorite records like Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft”, The Dramatics’ “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”, and Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” were recorded.

But to turn a brilliant recording studio into a brilliant performance space is another issue entirely, especially when it involves things like sets, choreographed videographers who leap over drums on crash cymbal cues and organ sweeps, and all the other madness that goes into an Allee Willis production..

Of this now 2 1/2 year Detroit gargantuan mofo project,  “The D” and Allee Willis Willis Loves Detroit, the feature-length film about human spirit as seen through the people of Detroit and how my life, a constant conscious battle to keep my own spirit going, parallels that struggle, 99% of it has been funded by me. (Put some gas money here please.) So this meant getting people involved in BaDeYa, Detroit! working for gratis. Which they thankfully, gratefully, and miraculously did. From the band to just about everyone else who worked in any capacity on the show. They are saints. They are insanely talented. They are blissfully soulful, and primary examples of why I feel so compelled to make a film about the people of Detroit and how it is THEY who will rebuild the city because of their resilient spirit.

I want to give a special shout out to Malcolm Haris and Donnevan Tolbert, two young gentleman I saw play Mister and Harpo when their high school, Cass Tech, became the first in the country to license the musical I cowrote, The Color Purple, a couple years ago, and who did a brilliant spoken word intro to my show.

And I want to thank the five brilliant dancers from The Mosaic Youth Theater of Detroit, one of the two beneficiaries of all profits from my Detroit efforts, who donned mechanics uniforms and spun car tires over their heads during the sneak peak world premiere of the first mix of “The D” and boogied their butts off during my second hit,  “Boogie Wonderland”.

I want to also thank the stupendous audience not only for showing up, as songwriters remain the buried treasure of the music industry, but also for participating so wildly so that the show came off just as I had prayed it would. Like a party in my living room. And if you don’t know my reputation for throwing parties you better go here now.

As a result of having so much fun not to mention hitting a new plateau in my budding performing career, I love Detroit even more than I have kvelled about it before, as if that was even possible. And I will eternally love the 21st of September for doing everything from giving me a second birthday because every year since I wrote it I hear from thousands of people that day telling me how happy the song makes them feel. This year it made me the happiest of all.

I hope you can see the spirit that was jumping off of the stage and ricocheting back to us in all the above photos as well as all of these. That room was an automatic power generator and from what I’ve heard everyone, certainly including me, is still buzzing. So BaDeYa Detroit!

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Categories: 365 Days Of September, Afro, Allee Live Performance, Allee Willis Loves Detroit, Allee Willis' Ba-de-ya, Allee's live performances, Art, Badeya, Baby!, Boogie Wonderland, Celebrity, Creative process, Creativity, Dance, Detroit, Disco, Discography, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Neutron Dance, Party, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Standup, Theater

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Allee LIVE IN DETROIT on “the 21st (almost) night of September!!

CALLING ALL DETROITERS! I will be APPEARING LIVE for the first time EVER in the Motor City 3 PM, Sunday, “the 21st (almost) night of September”! Andrae and I plus a 10 piece band – singers, dancers, tires, fire eaters, live tigers – well, a couple of those may not be true but I guarantee you it will be a spectacle among spectacles!


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Categories: "The D", Allee Live Performance, Art, Boogie Wonderland, Comedy, Detroit, empowerment, Film, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Party, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, The Color Purple

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A SNEAK PEEK at “The D”!!

Finally!! Get out the ol’ YouTube and enjoy this sneak peek at “The D”! (This is NOT the music video or film; just a sneak peek at what you can expect!) You can play this now or read a little more as I will kindly provide you with the link 30,000 times before the end of this update.


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Me, “The D”, and The Wizard of Oz!

So I’m donning my ruby red slippers and jetting to Detroit to ride high atop the NBC-WDIV Wizard of Oz float in the Thanksgiving Day Parade (!!!) and to do 10 more sing-alongs for “The D”.

If you haven’t seen photos from the last 40, yes FOURTY, sing-alongs we did in Detroit in September, capturing thousands and thousands of people singing and cavorting on “The D”, check out these beautiful people NOW!

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Leg One of “The D” Over and Out!

Got back to LA from leg #1 of “The D”, my song/video/documentary tribute to the SOUL of Detroit, last week sick as a dog, happy as a clam, and just now rising from the dead to finally write this update. After a year and a half of ups and downs including times I didn’t even know if we were going to make it to Detroit I can honestly say these were among the all-time greatest three weeks of my life! And an exceedingly auspicious debut for “The D”.

Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Choir:

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Categories: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Dance, Detroit, Discography, empowerment, Fashion, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Party, People, Place, School, Self expression, Songwriting, Travel

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“The D” Officially Gassed Up and On The Road!

I really meant to be doing far more of these updates but the schedule is thankfully and gratefully so packed here in Detroit that I can barely get into bed before it’s time to get up and start singing again. The participation here has been insanely enthusiastic and wonderful.

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Gunning The Engine Toward Detroit!

Hard to believe that after working on “The D” a solid year and a half, my ever-growing crew of 15 and I are descending upon Detroit in less than a week to record the song, video and feature length documentary. We’ll be recording and filming groups of 50 to 1000 people at each of 40+ locations where people will be singing “The D”, dancing, and showing their Motor City spirit however they can. Nothing like this has ever seen attempted- not just the largest number of people ever on a record, but the largest number of people as the original artist on a record. A partial list of locations participating is at the end of this email.

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Categories: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Celebrity, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, empowerment, Financial, Hollywood, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Party, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Travel

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Officially In Gear and Rollin’ Toward The D!

This is an update to all those who have donated or signed up to participate in “The D”, my multimedia song-video-documentary extravaganza I’m recording and filming via a series of sing-alongs in Detroit from 9/10 – 10/1, 2013:

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Categories: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, empowerment, Film, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Party, People, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Travel

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Zsa Zsa Voom!

When Sid Krofft – let’s stop and take a breath right here - Sid Krofft! of H.R. Pufinstuf and Land of the Lost and wayyyy more fame – when Sid called me two months ago and made me put Sunday, June 30, 2012 in my calendar he told me that it was a nonnegotiable-under-penalty-of-death-do-not-cancel-under-any-circumstance type of event. I trust this man enough to know that that means I should write it in my calendar in cement. Then he told me where we were going: to ZSA ZSA GABOR’S house for her husband, Prince Frederic’s birthday party!! Had I actually been writing in cement there’d be a big fat Allee Willis face print in it right now because THAT’S HOW FAST my head bobbed to my chest in ecstasy and disbelief upon hearing WHERE we were going. Besides that, Sid is one of those people who I clicked with the second we met and we always have the greatest and most comfortable time together.

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ONLY HOURS LEFT!!!

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As I sit here with LESS THAN FOUR DAYS LEFT for this fundraising campaign for “The D”,  I can’t help but think about all the amazing things that have come out of it so far and how great it’s going to be when I go back to Detroit to do my passion project of recording the official unofficial theme song of the city with thousands of Detroiters throughout the month of  ”September”.
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The outpouring of love and support from hundreds of you so far lets me know how many of my friends have my back.
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But I’d have more confidence I could pull this off with ADDITIONAL DONATIONS. I’ve worked on this for over a year and a half already, making decisions like holding off on performing so the money could stream to “The D”. But it’s obvious I cant pull off something this ambitious alone. And it’s not  the kind of project I’d want to pull off alone. It’s all about the power of community and friendships and how that ignites spirit.
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When left to my own devices my songs have always been about if your life isn’t working get yourself up and MAKE A CHANGE. “I’m just burning doing the Neutron Dance” means if the world explodes tomorrow I will at least have lived the life I want to live.”
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I relate to Detroit not just because it’s my hometown but because my entire career has been a series of starting overs, exactly what Detroit is faced with now. So I know the only way up is to not be afraid of going there and putting your imagination in the driver’s seat.  From there on it’s sheer nerve and chutzpah and that’s what’s very much alive and well in Detroit.  And why it’s so uplifting to go there. And why I know I will get the most spirited performance on earth out of these Motown babies no matter how I pull it off.
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Ultimately, Detroit will not only have a theme song, and videos and documentary commemorating it, but this is a way for all profits in perpituity to go to two Detroit art gems, The Heidelberg Project and Mosaic Youth Theater.
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Thanks to places in Detroit that have opened their doors to me like The Whitney – an elegant restaurant in the oldest house in Detroit on the first paved road in the world – and Vinsetta Garage –  a killer food joint in what was the baddest hot rod garage in the city of cars –  both of whom are hosting fundraisers  for “The D” when I go back to Detroit in a couple of weeks.
This kind of generosity abounds in Detroit. And that generosity and spirit pushes me to ask you once again to please support me and “The D”. Even $5 is a vote of confidence that keeps me going (not that hundreds don’t help!).
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And, of course, please help spread the word and share “The D” on Facebook , Twitter and the like.
And please remember to DONATE HEREhttp://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD
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To follow my Detroit adventures:
Twitter @WeSingTheD, @AlleeWillis
DONATE ON INDIEGOGO: http://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD
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Love,
Allee

Categories: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, Discography, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Music, Party, Place, Self expression, Theater

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