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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Blogless, Broke and Happy

Sorry, sorry, sorry for no new entries in an eternity. I’m working around several clocks and all the energy that used to be poured into this blog has to now go into slogging through the close to 5000 vocal tracks and 3000 hours of footage so that I can complete “The D”/ Allee Willis Loves Detroit before my 100th birthday. Although joyous work for a completely worthy cause – DETROIT! – it all makes me very tired, especially when the 100 Terrabye server goes down and makes my collaborator, Andrae Alexander, and I experience death by technology.


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Categories: "The D", Allee Live Performance, Allee Willis Loves Detroit, Art, Creative process, Detroit, empowerment, Forgot to Categorize, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Self expression, Songwriting

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A SNEAK PEEK at “The D”!!

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Categories: Allee Live Performance, Allee's live performances, Art, Celebrity, Creative process, Creativity, Dance, Detroit, Earth Wind & Fire, empowerment, Families, Fashion, Film, Friends theme, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Lyrics, Mumford high school, Music, Musical Instruments, Neutron Dance, Party, People, Place, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Stir It Up, Transportation, TV/Radio, video

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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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EYE on Detroit! $$ in da Bank!

It’s no secret to anyone within miles of  my mouth that constantly babbles on about it that I love my hometown of Detroit, the city that gets more bad raps than an unpopular war, deadly criminals, and oil spills put together. If one had unprejudiced EYEballs to look through they would see the same beautiful and spirited city that I see, the one whose people – perhaps not those who fled to the lighter color suburbs  -  still believe in and wake up with the soul that Motown pumped into their veins still cursing through their bodies to make things better. Some of that stuff musta stuck personally to me as I seem to have become in my old age the cheerleader I always wanted to become in my young age, though now for the whole city as opposed to just the Mumford Mustangs, whose colors I bore at my graduation oh so many years ago.

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Categories: 365 Days Of September, Allee Live Performance, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Dance, Detroit, empowerment, Hats, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Mumford high school, Music, Party, People, School, Self expression, September, Songwriting, Travel

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Heads Up, Detroit!

Just got back from an amazing trip to Detroit where I was laying the groundwork for the big project I’m coming back in September to do there and the project for which I’ve just launched a fund-raising campaign in order to pull off.  Below are are a couple of great stories that came out about my exploits. Please, please, PLEASE pass the link to the Indiegogo campaign for “The D” around so your fearless Kitsch leader can spread all the kitsch and glory around Detroit in September and pull off the greatest sing-along/theme song/video/documentary known to mankind!!! (That may be stretching to a bit but that’s what it feels like in my head!). http://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD

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

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DEtroit Citay! 2013

Just got back from a quickie 2-1/2 day trip to the Motor City to go to the pre-release book signing party for Heart Soul Detroit, Jenny Risher’s fantastic photo essay book coming out in March that I’m in featuring 50 iconic Detroiters. Thrill of thrills sitting next to Martha Reeves of Martha and The Vandellas, one of my all-time favorite Motown groups, as we signed our pages.


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Categories: Afro, Awards, Badeya, Baby!, Book, Celebrity, Creativity, Detroit, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Songwriting

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Dinner And Neutron Dancing With CHARO!

I’m sure any kitsch lover has a similar dream – having dinner with the kitschy-kitschy-cuchi Charo and bonding like you have been best friends for 30 years. Such was my evening at composer Pietor Angell’s pad with the aforementioned singer, actress, Flamenco guitar virtuoso, CHARO!

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Categories: Celebrity, Dance, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, Neutron Dance, Songwriting, video

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Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Me and My Soup To Nuts Party Mix live show in the LA Weekly

Show is completely SOLD OUT! Only 4 more days of being the most overworked person on the planet (though I never expect that to diminish). See the LA Weekly article here.

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Categories: Allee Willis' Soup To Nuts live show, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Party, People, Songwriting, Theater

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Allee Willis’ Soul O’ The Day – R.I.P. Ashford, Leiber and Ragavoy

What are the odds of losing two of the most influential songwriters of all time on the same day?  That’s what happened yesterday. First, Jerry Lieber, whose “Hound Dog” got the Elvis-not-to-mention-Rock-’n-Roll train rolling, and then Nick Ashford, a songwriter whose influence on me was immeasurable. I never met Jerry, though I wrote  a bunch of songs with his son, Oliver, in the early 90′s. But Nick I knew and loved. Not just as a songwriter who wrote my favorite song of all time but as one of nicest guys around. His eyes always sparkled, he was always smiling and soul oozed out of him as naturally as breath.

Along with his brilliant wife and collaborator, Valerie Simpson, Nick turned out the kind of songs that made my songwriting head spin. Can you say “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”?! How does a song get any better than that?? In any of the zillions of versions of it that exist? And that’s just the tip of the hitberg.

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Categories: Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, R.I.P., Songwriting

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