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In case you haven’t read it, the title of this post is in reference to the if-I-do-say-so-myself-despite-a-few-tiny-inaccuracies-great-and-rather-large-piece-on-me in last Sunday’s Washington Post.

In current news, I will be taking to the stage in LA again for the first time in over a year, actually the first two times, as there are two impending opportunities for me to regale you with my most humiliating show business stories and watch the audience remember my lyrics better than I do as we sing-along to some of my greatest hits!

First, I will be performing my infamous poolside with Sammy Davis Jr., Elizabeth Taylor slab o’ ribs story as well as a retelling of the single most ego-numbing, dignity-deprivation moment of my career, the Phoebe Snow/Paul Simon “I’m so f%#king hungry and yes, you’re Still Crazy after all these hours” story at Beth Lapides’ I’m With The Band (sorry, Pamela DesBarres who HAS been with the band!) evening at the Skirball Center, Friday night, June 5. It’s rock & roll comedy told by very funny people like John Riggie (30 Rock, The Comeback), Greg Behrendt He’s Just Not That Into You), the lovely Moon Zappa (Curb Your Enthusiasm, America the Beautiful) and, of course, ME, featuring stories about some of music’s biggest legends and presented lounge-style with cocktails and snacks available for purchase. Tickets here.

Then on Sunday night, July 12, it’s big ol’ party time when the illustrious Andrae and I + band hit the stage for a wild, so-affordable-it’s-crazy fundraiser for my Detroit-inspired record, video and feature length film about human spirit, “The D”/ Allee Willis Loves Detroit”!! Featuring a sneak peek world premiere of the record and video with more people in history than have ever been the original artist on a record, joined by some of the biggest stars to ever emerge from the Motor City.  Also sing-alongs to some of some of my fattys like “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “Neutron Dance,” and the Friends theme, as well as auctions from the legendary Allee Willis Museum Of Kitsch collection! Many more surprises at this outrageous multimedia live feast for the eyes, ears and soul!!  Tickets, thankfully going fast, are here.

And last but far from least, we are making fairly stunning progress on “The D” record and video, both of which are in the area of 85/90% finished. We are constantly diverted from the filmmaking mission having to prepare things like a marketing deck and a movie trailer so we can all stop eating up to the green edges of our food and raise some real money to get this car on the road. But I must admit, despite the financial deprivation – PLEASE COME TO THE BENEFIT ON JULY 12 – we are all having the time of our lives working on something this creative and worthwhile. All we do is laugh, and all we do is feel better and better about what we’re doing every time we look at the joy pouring out of Detroiters eyes, mouths and hearts as we pull everything together.

Exciting news on “The D” song front is that Detroit’s own Maejor, an artist with hundreds of millions of YouTube views and the smoothest voice this Motor City side of Marvin Gaye, is the latest superstar to add his voice to the record.

Plus recent interviews for Allee Willis Loves Detroit, the film, include the multi-seriesed Michael Patrick King, the shy and retiring Jenifer Lewis, the demure Sandra Bernhard, and Earth, Wind & Fire’s stupendous Philip Bailey, among illustrious others.

That’s about it for now. Here’s the link to my story in the Washington Post again:  “Most interesting woman you’ve never heard of” (so please get your ass to my show and help rectify the situation!)

Onward, Detroit! And remember to gimme some gas money on July 12 or pop it down here if you’re in generous spirit and unable to attend.

 

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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.

As we speak, I’m in my studio rolling my chair from one workstation to another as we simultaneously mix the 4000 vocal and instrument tracks for the record, and edit the 2000+ hours of footage into a music video, assorted trailers and a hybrid–documentary–but–not–really feature film. Normal life has ceased and no matter what other needs may need attending, work never stops!

In the nearly 2 years since I began working on “The D” there were times I was just inches away from pulling the plug because the financial and practical odds of getting thousands of Detroiters to sing a song and be in a film about human spirit on no budget just seemed too enormous. But make it to Detroit we did, in September – a magic month for me for obvious musical reasons – and again at Thanksgiving when I was such an exemplary float personality greeting the crowds as a block of ice being hauled down Woodward Ave., Detroit’s main drag and first paved road in history, in the Thanksgiving Day Parade:

As usual, massive thanks and eternal gratitude to those of you who have already donated or participated in the making of “The D”. Now that everyone else can finally get a hint of what we’re doing I hope many of you reading this will follow suit and help us finish by adding some gas in the tank.

If you like what you see please please please spread the link to this “D” sneak peek around: http://youtu.be/4rkbTpZdxy8
If you want to donate go here: http://www.gofundme.com/3btivk
For complete info on “The D” go here: http://www.wesingthed.com
And If you know some nice rich person or place with excellent taste and a whole lotta soul who might make this next part of our journey a little easier in the way of coin, please email me immediately!

I can guarantee you “The D” is a view of Detroit you’ve never seen before. I can guarantee you it’s an accurate one. And I can promise you it will make you smile. When it comes to soul – SERIOUSLY – there ain’t no place like the Motor City!

My “D” best,
And, by the way, have you seen this excellent sneak peek of “The D”?

Allee

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:

First off, I was blessed with the single best team I have ever worked with. Everyone – from my collaborator, Andrae Alexander, to Director Danny Franzese and Producer Jason Yamas, through the camera and sound crews, interns, assistants, volunteers, et al – was talented, bright, diligent, generous, funny, and fun, and I can’t wait until we all work together again. Which, if our progress in Detroit is any indication, will be VERY soon.

Empire Boxing Gym:

I created “The D” because I love Detroit and every time I go back I meet more and more incredible people who believe in the city and are doing incredibly positive things to reimagine it.

The Greening Of Detroit:

But if I loved Detroiters for their spirit and resiliency before this trip it’s nothing compared to the love affair I have with them now. At location after location we were greeted with the biggest smiles and enthusiasm that one could ever hope to experience.

The Fisher Theatre:

Detroiters’ love for their city is palpable, infectious and ever-growing.

Mosaic Youth Theatre:

Detroit is beautiful. Really, you have to drive deep around to find all the rubble that the media and most documentaries done about Detroit constantly exploit. I can’t even tell you the joy we all felt at every single location as people swelled with pride singing and performing “The D”. You can experience some of their comments here.

The Heidelberg Project:

Now that we’re back, “The D” adventure shifts into second gear. Starting today, Andrae and I begin going through the literally thousands of tracks of music in LA while Jason leads a New York crew going through the over 700 hours of footage.

Pasteur elementary school:

In addition, the crew will be most likely be reuniting in several different cities to film and record more prominent Detroiters. We will also most likely be returning to Detroit very soon to do something very big that I’m dying to announce here but it’s not 100% yet so that will just have to wait for the next update.

College For Creative Studies:

I’m also in the midst of building photo pages for each location we shot at. These will all hopefully be up online within a couple of weeks so I will have that link in the next update.

African Bead Museum:

Thanks to all of you again who so generously donated, volunteered, or participated in “The D”. Donations still happily accepted here. And a massive shout-out again to The Detroit Historical Society for its immeasurable and continuing help and for giving this scrapyard daughter a permanent and immortal home in cement!

Detroit Historical Society:

“The D” was blessed with great news coverage while we were there. You can see the spirit I’m talking about in the following stories. Here’s a piece that ran on NBC News and here’s one that ran on Fox. NBC is also preparing a half hour special on “The D”.

Onward Detroit!
https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/

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.

We’ve also been blessed with a lot of press including this piece that ran on NBC News here last night in Detroit last night:

If you’re in Detroit or know any Detroiters who are here there are two open to the public sing-alongs. The first is this Sunday at 3 PM in front of the House of Soul at the Heidelberg Project. The second is September 25 at 3 PM at the Detroit Historical Society. All are welcome though you are encouraged to learn the song before you come. You can get it here:  https://www.alleewillis.com/WeSingTheD/

Here’s some photos from some of the sing-alongs we’ve done so far for “The D”:

Mumford High School:

My graduating class at Mumford High School:

Detroit Dog Rescue

American Jewelry & Loan (Hard Core Pawn):

Motown! (with Paul Riser, Funk Brother and arranger extraordinaire, Paul Riser Jr., the original Motown engineers who literally built the studio, and the family of legendary Motown bass player, James Jamerson):

Martha Reeves:

The Deep River Y:

Henry The Hatter:

Detroit Yacht Club:

Consumer Auto Parts:

Schulze Academy (my elementary school)

Ebenezer Baptist Church:

Onward!

Allee

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.

Sid lives very close to another good friend of mine, Beverly D’Angelo. The plan was we would meet at her house exactly 45 minutes after she arrived home from a Lego extravaganza in Minneapolis. Beverly and I go back to the 1980s together. She’s hysterical, a great friend, great actress, and dresses with flair, a quality I can relate to. She looked especially great on Zsa Zsa D-day, which was amazing as her plane was late and she got this together in 15 minutes:

So me and Beverly in my car…

… follow Sid and Donnie and Teri Moll, who live smack dab in between Sid and Beverly, winding around Mulholland Drive into the immaculate bowels of Bel Air to Zsa Zsa’s house. The first person we met was the Prince himself. You see this guy on the news and they always portray him as a nut but I have to tell you, nut or not, he’s an excellent party host. And trust me, I know a lot about being an excellent party host.

The kind of party host who takes care of every detail:

Price Frederic also hand-carried out out every morsel of food and set the table himself.

It was deli-gone-insane. Every kind of sliced meat on the planet…

… including these impressive linoleum looking slabs:

A big topic of discussion was what the white stuff was in the middle of this pork chop. Was it a Porturkey?

Zsa Zsa and the Prince’s house is THE Hollywood house that anyone who loves Hollywood, old Hollywood, dreams about. Built by Liberace (and where the HBO biopic was shot), Lee sold it to Elvis, who then sold it to Zsa Zsa – three of the most extreme personalities in show business history, all of whom floated their nuttiness around in Liberace’s famous piano-shaped pool!

Everyone  at the party, regardless if they had been there 100 times before, was snapping photos so fast it was like their index fingers were on automatic pilot. But it’s SO not my place to plaster Zsa Zsa’s kitsch-on-the-elegant-tip domicile all over the Internet. So I shall have to leave it at this one shot of Beverly waiting for her drink next to the Oscar replica/ gold champagne bar as an example of the supreme 70’sness of this most hollowed mansion.

And though Zsa Zsa was ensconced in her bedroom there was lots of Zsa Zsa around.

Here’s Sid with Zsa Zsa:

This wall was not only gold but whatever the finish is had little chunks of raised goldness in it:

BTW, though the dog resting so comfortably on the pillow wasn’t real, many people pet him.

It took all my strength not to straighten this copper relief of Zsa Zsa:

As I’m posting these photos I realize… How completely crazy am I that I didn’t go to the bathroom there?! OMG, if textured gold walls are in the house what must the bathrooms look like?! How could the undisputed Queen of Kitsch miss an opportunity like that??!! Especially as this is the decoration on the outside of the bathroom door:

I know the obvious question is, “But did you meet Zsa Zsa?”.  The answer is no because at 96 she was too frail to attend. But there was a live video feed going into her bedroom so she didn’t miss a thing. The camera followed Prince Frederick everywhere, including when he danced with Madame.

Wayland Flowers may be long gone but Madame is still very much alive!

As is Pee Wee Herman:

All in all, it was a Zsa Zsa Voom Sunday! As we alighted down the red astro-turf carpet to get our cars…

… we all agreed it was one of the best looking Sundays we’d had in years.

Va Va Zsa Zsa Voom!

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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

I wish I had time to write at length this morning because I can’t even tell you what a SPECTACULAR evening I had last night at my high school in Detroit, the greatest one of all, Mumford, about to be destroyed by the wrecking ball but still the most spirit-filled place in the city. Kids from the  choir, dance company and band performed some of my greatest hits while I told stories about how they were written. So many of my classmates showed up, some of whom I hadn’t seen since I graduated, some of my family, the ones who weren’t afraid to show some soul, leave the burbs and come into the real city, friends I’ve made on my last couple visits here and, of course, the wonderful and dedicated Mumford teachers, principal and former principal, and staff who helped so much to make this one of the favorite nights of my life.

I have to race out of the hotel seriously fast and check out a recording studio because I’m hell-bent and determined to collaborate with the entire city, at least any of those who want to be on a record, on a Detroit song that I’ve been working on back in LA with my upcoming live show bandleader, Andrae Alexander. Then race back to the hotel to change and get over to Cass Technical High School where the City Council will be presenting me with the Spirit of Detroit Award, and where I’ll also be attending another performance my musical, The Color Purple, all the while trying to edit the close to 600 photos taken last night, not to mention at least 10 hours of film from cameras we placed all over  the auditorium.

I hope to be blogging a lot about this next week once I’m back in LA so please check back then. Until then, I’m cheering for you, Mumford High! And Onward, Detroit!

All the hits you can stand to hear!!! And the last time in an architectural treasure.

https://www.alleewillis.com/detroit/mumford-last-call.html

You all know of my love for the physical structure of my classic Deco baby blue high school in Detroit, Mumford, as well as my dismay that the wrecking ball is hitting it mere months after the concert I’m doing/hosting there THIS Thursday night. One of the MANY reasons the school is near and dear to my heart is also because it was made famous in the film I won a GRAMMY for, Beverly Hills Cop, when Eddie Murphy wore a t-shirt bearing its name throughout the movie.

So it upsets me even more that features like this, all over the school, are about to be nothing more than a pile of crumbled limestone:

One place inside Mumford I loved like no other was the auditorium.  Here’s a photo of when I was there last year watching rehearsals for when I conducted the marching band playing a medley of my greatest hits. I was sitting in my favorite seat, Row A, first seat on the middle aisle.

Here was Row A, seat 1 yesterday as wrecking ball syndroome has already hit the school:

Here I am leaving the school:

At least there’s some small concilation for the crime of classic architecture demolition. Now if I could only get that clock!