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:

The wheels have begun to roll really fast now that we are only 5+ weeks out from going to Detroit to record and film “The D”!

First, an incredible array of fantastic locations in Detroit have signed on to let us record and film there.  They go from iconic outdoor locations both on land and water to inside museums, restaurants, schools, churches, synagogues, laundromats, car washes, radio stations, pawn shops, hat shops, hotels, recording studios, yoga studios, weave salons, and more. From the largest business enterprise in the city to the smallest hole-in-the-wall restaurant “The D” is representing the most vibrant spots and folks in the city. Not to mention a slew of famous singers and musicians who hail from the Motor City and will be coming to my studio in LA to participate.

I arrive in Detroit with a 12 person crew on September 9. We will be there through the end of the month in order to have enough material for the song, video and documentary.  Most of us live in Los Angeles and New York and share a deep love of and belief in Detroit. We will also be picking up many local crew members, interns and volunteers once we’re there.

I was in Detroit earlier this month hosting two fundraisers generously thrown for us by two amazing restaurants, The Whitney, and Vinsetta Garage. The Whitney was a 150 person event featuring sing-alongs and a great live 60s/70s funk band whereas the dinner at Vinsetta was a higher ticket, more intimate evening of just 25 people and about four hours of constant (incredible and mind blowing) food. I was most excited when Mary Wilson of the original Supremes walked into that one!

My third night in Detroit was spent at the Detroit Historical Museum where my portrait and some personal artifacts were on display as part of an exhibit featuring 50 iconic Detroiters in Jenny Risher’s beautiful Heart Soul Detroit book. A truly incredible moment for me, whose only music education was worshiping Motown, was when I walked in to see myself featured as part of the Motown section of the exhibit. Here I am with Martha Reeves (Martha & The Vandellas), Mary Wilson (The Supremes) and Miss Maxene Powell, the Motown etiquette coach who gave the groups all their signature poise and grace.

I want to especially thank the Detroit Historical Museum and the Detroit Historical Society for the great interest and support they have shown to “The D” ever since this most wonderful evening.

At the end of this coming week, I’m hosting a week-long production confab at my house in LA where the director, producer and other principals will be flying in to plan the actual production schedule and figure out the logistics of such an ambitious project. We are incredibly well organized for something of this scale on the somewhat limited budget we have (and why the search for funding will continue until the very last frame of the documentary is cut). Every single person on the team now is beyond enthusiastic and ready to roll up their sleeves and do whatever it takes to get this done, my personality MO since the beginning of my career. I can’t tell you how great and inspiring it is to work inside of an energy force like this and I hope as “The D’ is realized and these updates get more consistent that that energy will uplift you as well.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who so astutely and boldly donated to “The D”. I also want to thank people receiving this because you’ve signed up to participate as well as those who came to the parties at The Whitney and Vinsetta Garage. It’s that spirit that has kept Detroit going through the decades of glut and gluttony and it’s certainly the primary force in re-imagining the city now.

For more information on “The D” go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/)

To DONATE go here: http://www.gofundme.com/3btivk

To learn the actual song go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/sing-or-play-the-d.php)

For more of Allee’s Detroit go here. (https://www.alleewillis.com/detroit/)

 

 

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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

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.

As most of you reading this know I’m heading back to Detroit the entire month of September, a month I helped popularize in song!,  to conduct daily sing-alongs in order to record, “The D”,  the new theme song for the new Detroit I wrote with Andrae Alexander and to simultaneously film near round-the-clock in order to make multitudinous videos and an accompanying D documentary.

Raising money to do this, or for anything in my career, has been my least favorite part of being an artist. I hate dealing with money. That’s not why I make art/music/videos/web worlds/etc. It’s antithetical to this pure artists’ brain and being to ask for money. But as an artist who 90% of the time has funded themselves, and as a songwriter who has watched my own and others’ work get essentially cast into the public domain, operating under the digital assumption that songwriters no longer deserve compensation, unless there’s some gold or green in the bank ain’t no nothin gon happen no mo.

So I launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise the money for “The D”. But I’ve been pretty shy about confronting the bane of my career – asking people for money so I can put some gas in The D tank and actually pull off what most artists would want 1,000,000+ clams to do – spend a month getting every single person in Detroit who wants to be on the record or perform in the video/film to do exactly that. And I’m prepared to do it with scotch tape and string, the usual way I’ve have to execute my career, walking the money gutted path of pennies, stripping down the grand vision that I see in my head to the thinner version my pocketbook can afford. The good news about this is that without those limitations I doubt I ever would have stumbled onto the KITSCH style I’m known for in all areas of my art –  other than my music, which remains on its Grammy high. And for this I thank those who have been either too cheap or ball-less or working at entertainment conglomerates to support me just to sit back and watch from behind the fence while I hit the home runs for those who HAVE pulled their checkbooks out.

All of this rambling to say, THIS WEEK ONLY, if you donate at least $15 to “The D” you’ll automatically be entered into the raffle to win one of an excessively limited edition of personally-autographed-by-me “Keep Your EYE on Detroit!” dashboard EYEballs in addition to all the other perks associated with the amount you contribute! Thank you, Archie McPhee, for the generous donation of these ocular wigglers.

This nifty EYEball shaker will not only liven up your car dashboard but will be a constant bouncing reminder that you’ve put your money where the underdog is and be a part of calling attention to a true American city that’s reinventing itself very much in the spirit that the United States itself was created. Forge into new territory and do it for yourself. Detroiters have no government to rely on, hell even the mayor quit, so people there are just rolling up their sleeves and executing ideas that they wouldn’t have the balls to even think of let alone build in other cities.

I’ve long said that the times that I’ve been perceived as hot in my career aren’t actually when I’m hot. It’s in the valleys when you think nothing is happening and no one’s paying attention to you because  they think you’re over when you do the work that shoots you to the top of the mountain in your so-called “hot” periods. That’s what it’s like in Detroit now, the Wild (mid)West, the city that slid first and watched all the others fall in their arrogance of “that couldn’t happen here”, and the first city to embrace, at least from the inside, that radical change isn’t re-building, it’s re-imagining and re-inventing.

You can feast your real EYEballs here where I’ve just posted gaggles of photos from my trip to Detroit in April. Then try to get your real plastic EYEball here by helping me pull off this insanely massive project I have in my head to do in Detroit this September. If one just keeps their EYEs pointed toward the ground and walks the same path one’s always walked you get the same life you’ve always had. But if one keeps their EYE on Detroit, you’ll see the path changing, leading to a very bright light in the future. Please be among those who help me shine that light! http://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD EYE will appreciate it forever!

YOU + (at least) $15 = Making Allee very happy.

Full deets on da D: http://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD

 

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

Here’s a great peice about “The D” by Karen Dybis, who I first spoke to a couple years ago when she was hired by Time Magazine to blog about Detroit for a full year. So she knows all about my passion for Detroit.

And here’s a great story (with slideshow and video) that ran on the news last week in Detroit:

Please help fund “The D”!!! And please spread this link around to anyone who you think might donate or help in any other way: http://igg.me/at/WeSingTheD.  Onward Detroit!!!

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.

This wasn’t my first encounter with Ms. Reeves. In 2008, along with Congresswoman Joanne Watson, she awarded me my first Commendation from the Detroit City Council.

I was also in Detroit this trip to lay the groundwork for “The D”, the massive unofficial official Detroit theme song I’m going back in September to record with potentially hundreds of thousands of Detroiters.

As such, I met with Tyree Guyton, who created one of Detroit’s most precious jewels, The Heidelberg Project.

I seriously hope to collaborate with Tyree. I spent almost every Saturday of my youth climbing on piles of crushed cars and assorted junk, artifacts that influence my art style to this day and upon which Heidelberg is built. My father’s scrapyard was just down the street from Heidelberg so I treasure that area of the city.

I also did an unexpected Q&A with some seriously talented kids at Mosaic Youth Theatre.

They have the good taste to be doing some of my music at a program they’re doing at the Detroit Institute of Arts in March.

I may end up coming back for that because these kids were seriously great and evolved. And, of course, I’ll use any excuse to come back for this…

… Chef Greg and his insanely incredible tasting Boogaloo Wonderland!…

…which I LOVE so much I fly him to LA to serve them at my live shows.

Chef Greg’s D’Emilis Cafe is on Curtis and Wyoming, the corner I used to get off the bus on to go to high school back in the day.  I invited some family and friends there on Saturday before I had to get on the plane to come back to LA.

Chef Greg made me a peach cobbler for the plane.

Which was good because a bottle of water spilled in my backpack and drenched all my money which was still soaked when the food cart came down the aisle selling the crappy plane food.

So here’s to dry money and plenty of it, Boogaloo Wonderlands, and a bright future for the once and future city of the future, Detroit!  See you in September for some serious Dancin’ in the Streets!

On November 8 and 9, 2012 I reprised BaDeYa, Baby!, my sold out one-woman-show-with-25-people-in-it at NoHoPAC in beautiful North Hollywood, CA. Just as the shows that preceded it on September 21 and 22nd, it was a salute to my very 1st hit, “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire, the first line of which is “Do you remember the 21st night of September?”.  All the hits, sing-alongs, dancers, games, prizes, Boogaloo Wonderland sandwiches from my hometown Detroit, not to mention the big ol’ greasy foot massages conspired to make these evenings no normal singer/songwriter fare! So enjoy the show and the next time I do this I hope you BaDeYa with me!

See all 450 photos here. November 8, 2012 show coming  SOON.  Until then. BaDeYa!


On May 8 and 9, 2012, I took a giant leap in my evolution and broke through an almost 4 decades-long bout of stage fright, performing two sold-out performances of my Super Ball Bounce Back Review, a combo concert/sing-along/party extravaganza at King King in Hollywood.

Lack of performing has always been a raw, gaping hole in a long career that’s stretched across various fields of the arts, despite the fact that I’ve always had the balls to throw myself off cliffs as I periodically dive-bomb into pursuits I know nothing about. I’ve hosted multimedia theme parties where I’m perenially on mic so that even the conversations I have with everyone are blasted throughout my house or wherever else I host these beasts. And God knows I walk around in hair and clothes that makes peoples’ necks snap if they’ve never gotten a gander of me before. Throw in that I’ve sold 50,000,000 records despite the fact that to this day I have no idea how to read, notate or play music, and I sold hundreds of paintings before I realized that you mix colors to get different colors. So backing away from displaying myself publicly made absolutely no sense.

But then I realized that this theme of living fearlessly was at the heart of everything I ever created. View life as a creative process. You are the canvas. If you’re stuck with a weakness, for God sakes turn it into a hook. Nine times out of ten, you’re the bogey monster scaring yourself shitless so just get out the way! So I finally did.

So here then are four videos from my Super Ball Bounce Back Review.  If you like them and are going to be in LA on September 21 and/or 22, I’m rising again at NoHoPAC in a salute to “September”, the first line of which mentions the date of the opening night.

“September”:

“Boogie Wonderland”:

“Neutron Dance”:

And the whole enchilada:

Badeya!

 

May 28, 2012 marked the end of a stupendous three-month run of the musical I co-wrote, The Color Purple, at The Celebration Theatre in LA.

Originally performed on Broadway in a 2000 seat theatre with a cast of 31, and later on tour with a slightly smaller cast but remaining in 2000+ seat venues, the Celebration performance featured 19 actors in a 99 seat theater.

Totally reconceived, this performance was wrapped with the kind of intimacy we wrote it with. I loved the original and this production rose to the same heights. To show my gratitude, I threw a party to thank the cast, crew, director and producers for pulling off the nearly impossible, stuffing a huge musical into a tiny yet fantastic theatre.


Way, way, wayyyy, more Purple party pleasure here.

 

Photos: Barry Weiss, Mark Blackwell, and Dina Duarte.

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On May 8 and 9, 2012 I had one of the greatest experiences of my career performing my Super Ball Bounce Back Review at King King in Hollywood. It not only was only the second and third performances I’d done since jumping off the stage in the middle of my own show in 1974, but was an attempted – and I’m happy to say TOTALLY TRIUMPHANT – comeback after one of the worst experiences of my career seven months before when 90% of the technology my first attempted comeback show was dependent on failed. But I knew that I had to get back up and practice what I preach: From some of the worst situations come the greatest miracles and I had proven to myself time and time again that, if nothing else, I was someone who had the courage to make lemonade out of big, fat lemons.

So I’m happy to report that I have risen from the ashes and had two of the greatest nights of my life bouncing back as a performer in a major way. I can’t thank everyone who came enough. And I can’t thank everyone who worked with me on the show enough.

So I leave you with a whole lotta photos from both nights, videos to come and a big, loud Badeya-say-do-you-remember there never has to be a cloudy day as long as you have sunshine inside. ENOY THE SHOW!!

Ideally I would’ve had a shitload of photos and videos to post already after my – I’m not too proud to say – sold out SMASH shows at King King in Hollywood this past Tuesday and Wednesday nights. But, alas, as I’m everything from the star of the show to co-producer, co-director, set designer, maker of all souvenirs and handouts, MC and anything else that’s involved in putting the show together, just getting everything unpacked and trying to make up for the total 6 hours sleep I got in the last week means I won’t get any serious documentation up before next week or so. But here are a couple videos that my assistant Dina, on stage with me at all times, shot on my little Canon Elf.  I only have them up on Facebook so hopefully you can see them there by clicking below. Didn’t want to put anything up on YouTube yet as I want to wait until I have the real footage. SO way way wayyyyy more coming in weeks to come, with at least photos hopefully by Tuesday.

Part of “September”:

Part of “Boogie Wonderland”:

Badeya!