“The D” update: Computer Hell/Detroit Heaven!

I know. It’s been pathetically long since my last update. This is not due to inactivity! We’ve been having 12 hour days here at Willis Wonderland since January and STILL haven’t quite gotten through all the footage and recording tracks, close to 3000 hours and 5000 tracks respectively, for ”The D” record and multiple music videos, and Allee Willis Loves Detroit our feature-length hybrid documentary.  Not that this has been driving us crazy or to drink.


There are a lot of D deputies in the way of engineers, editors, and assorted characters here every day:

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I know it might seem like we do a lot of lying around but this rarely occurs unless eyeballs start rolling in the back of our heads after working 16 straight hours looking at 743 takes of various groups singing the same line. Two of these folks in the above photo are gone already. We hate to lose them, well one of them at least, but when one is paying such a high salary, as close to zero dollars as humanly possible due to our expansive budget known as my pocket, these things are inevitable.

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Challenges have abounded. Like having to replace my hundred terabyte server in the middle of editing and mixing so that master files are scattered around on a trillion different drives and computers as opposed to one central location while the switchover happens. So this includes helpful things like servers constantly going down or computers not being able to talk to each other, watching files getting eaten up before your eyes, overwriting files, and all the other joys that come with working in a part-time dysfunctional digital environment.
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And then there was the hideous discovery that due to brain slippage of a certain IT person (no longer) working here nothing had been backed up since February and we lost at least a month’s worth of footage of us figuring out how to jam thousands of voices and instruments into one record so everyone’s heard. Not to mention the fits of hysteria incurred after looking at blurry key footage and figuring out how to work around it. This had me in a such a comatose state I had to shoot Vernor’s, Detroit’s beverage of choice, into my veins to keep me from slipping into a coma.
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But the trauma has always been tamed by the joy of working on such a unique projectSometimes we have even have FRIENDS drop in to bring us matzoh ball soup, cupcakes, and other modes of sustenance to remind us we have a life on the outside.

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And now traveling for “The D” crew kicks up again. I will be spending one week out of each of the next four months in the Motor City, this month to attend my 107th high school reunion!
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Then I return two weeks later in August to give a speech on Creativity And Detroit at the Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, four hours from the city and where my parents bought their very first first house. Then I’m elated to report that on September 21 (yes, the “BaDeYa, say do you remember” 21st of September!) I will be performing LIVE in Detroit at the historic United Sound, the recording studio where the very first Motown records were made and still a vital part of Detroit music history. And then again at the end of October when the musical I co-wrote, The Color Purple, comes back to the D for the fourth time, this time starring Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday, who I wrote for many a year ago and haven’t seen since, making for a Dream D reunion! All these extravaganzas will be filmed and recorded for “The D” and Allee Willis Loves Detroit.

So as we cut and paste, chop, mix, curse, cry, hug and exhibit all the various kinds of behavior that come with undertaking a task of this girth I thank all of you who have donated or contributed your services thus far.
It’s not too late to donate!! We will do you proud!

 

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Categories: "The D", Allee Live Performance, Allee Willis Loves Detroit, Allee's live performances, Art, Creative process, Creativity, Detroit, empowerment, Financial, Kitsch, Kitsch O' The Day, Music, People, Self expression, Technology, Travel, video

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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”!!

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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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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