Our Keynote Speaker, Allee Willis Marches on Detroit
WHAT: As a special benefit for MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL, alumna extraordinaire ALLEE WILLIS conducts the MUMFORD HIGH SCHOOL MARCHING BAND through a medley of her hit songs in the lobby of Detroit’s FOX THEATRE, with cast members from THE COLOR PURPLE joining in for a sing-along.
WHEN: Saturday, April 9, 11:00AM to 12:30PM, SHARP
WHERE: The Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, MI 48201
GRAMMY, Tony, Emmy, and Webby award-winning/nominated songwriter, artist, multimediaist, director, collector, party thrower—and native Detroiter—returns to her hometown for a special benefit event at the historic and fabulous Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit.
An alumna of Mumford High School, Willis will lead the school’s marching band through a medley of her hit songs in the lobby of the Fox. The Saturday, April 9 event takes place during a weekend run of The Color Purple at the theater, and cast members from the touring company of the Broadway smash—of which Allee is a co-author—will join in for a celebratory sing-along. Event will go toward new band uniforms.
The Allee Willis-composed songs comprising the medley—to be played first instrumentally by the marching band, and then with TCP company members singing along—are: “September,” “Boogie Wonderland,” “In The Stone,” (all major hits for Earth, Wind, & Fire), “I’ll Be There For You” (Theme from Friends),” “The Color Purple,” “Stir It Up” (Patti LaBelle), and “Neutron Dance” (the Pointer Sisters). The last two songs connect Allee to Mumford beyond her having gone there—they’re featured in Beverly Hills Cop, and on the soundtrack, which won Allee a GRAMMY. The film, produced by fellow Mumford alum Jerry Bruckheimer, made the school famous when Eddie Murphy wore a Mumford t-shirt throughout.
Allee was inspired to work with the Mumford High marching band after being invited to conduct the 350-piece marching band at her collegiate alma mater, University of Wisconsin, for the halftime show at the 2010 Homecoming football game. “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is a dream come true for Allee, connecting her songs and The Color Purple to Mumford and her beloved hometown of Detroit—all in the city’s most famous venue. She also looks forward to working with Mumford students on an ongoing basis. And, this project builds on work Allee started doing with the school in 2008, when she was on a national radio broadcast as Mumford became the first school in the country to receive 400 hours of historic audio tapes related to African-American history that she helped to restore with Pacifica Radio Archives.
Tickets are $50 each, with attendance limited to 200 guests (not including the band and event facilitators). Sponsorships are available to help underwrite the event, and will go toward “sponsored” tickets to allow current Mumford students to attend, generating proceeds for uniforms, and covering production costs.
FYI “Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” takes place just before a matinee of The Color Purple. Event tickets do not include admission to the show. Attendees may (but are not required to) separately purchase discounted tickets for The Color Purple—in advance—by calling Fox Theatre group sales at 313-471-3099.
“Allee Willis Marches on Detroit” is supported by Nickelodeon’s The Big Help Grant Program.