I know, I know… It’s been pathetically long since my last update. That might be because of the 20-hour-days-minimum-six-days-a-week schedule those of us working on the Detroit record, video, and filmhave been adhering to, handstitching everything together as if we were Betsy Ross making that flag. There have been great, jubilant days…
…as well as days that make you want to roll onto the freeway and pray an 18 wheeler puts you out of your misery….
But that’s the life of an independent 99%-self funded artist and I wouldn’t change anything for the world. Well, I WOULD love someone to dunk me into a big ol’ vat of Lincolns…
Old photo I know… If you can’t tell by the lack of wrinkles on my face you can certainly tell by it being the last time I ever wore a dress. But aside from that I leave each day totally uplifted by the spirit pouring out of the footage and sounds leaping off the record. Wish I could leak a teeeeeny tiny sample but let’s just say that no other city has had a song that sounded so insanely jubilant and looked quite so unique.
I don’t wanna let too much cat outta the bag until we premiere the record and video in Detroit this SEPTEMBER. Now that the year-long jotting down of logs has ended the video’s about 60% finished. In the meantime we’ve also begun interviewing some of my esteemed friends and colleagues for Allee Willis Loves Detroit, the film. The bounty includes this young Detroiter:
…and this young man who gave me my big break by having me write for his group, Earth, Wind & Fire:
The celeb list in the film is long because people have a lot to say about Detroit (and apparently me). This includes many Color Purple people and a stunning array of Grammy, Emmy, Tony, Academy Award, and Pulitzer Prize winners, a smattering of whom we’ve filmed so far including RuPaul, Ricki Lake, Bruce Vilanch, Lesley Ann Warren, Marsha Norman, and Luenell with a whole slew yet to come.
Not to say that the finish line of the feature film is in sight but we are crawling towards it with skinned knees, blisters on our fingers and faith in our hearts!
As for “The D”, the record is about 95% done. Just in need of us moving out of my home studio – not to berate my little studio which back in the day James Brown called one of the best and funkiest sounding in LA – but so we have a shot at mixing in more opportune acoustic conditions so the 40 basses, 35 guitars and over 5000 singers don’t make everything too wobbly sounding as they bounce off the heads of Sammy Davis Jr., Groove On Brother, and other soulful onlookers here at Willis Wonderland.
We’ve also been putting together a marketing deck so we can raise real money to get “The D”/ Allee Willis Loves Detroit finally on the road. As all of us normally peer through artists’ eyes we had no idea what we were doing here and this took some months of concentration not to mention putting any further record, video or documentary editing on hold.
If you know of any deep pocket persons or company/institutions that should see our lovely and provocative marketing deck please let me know. And to drop a few coins of your own in the tank you can always go here.
In the meantime, go on wit yo bad self, Detroit!
CALLING ALL DETROITERS! I will be APPEARING LIVE for the first time EVER in the Motor City 3 PM, Sunday, “the 21st (almost) night of September”! Andrae and I plus a 10 piece band – singers, dancers, tires, fire eaters, live tigers – well, a couple of those may not be true but I guarantee you it will be a spectacle among spectacles!
BaDeYa DETROIT features sing-alongs to my some of my greatest greatest hits like ’September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, “Neutron Dance”, the Friends theme, not to mention a not-ready-to-be-released-yet-but-needle-drop preview of “The D”! and is all happening at Detroit’s most historic recording studio – the immortal United Sound, 5840 2nd Ave., Detroit, MI 48202, Sunday, September 21, 2014 at 3 PM. Here’s the ticket link. Click NOW for maximum enjoyment as seating is very limited!
A couple of Allee Willis Live enticing quotes:
“Invitations to Allee Willis’s ultra-exclusive … parties are the campiest hot tickets in LA.” – People Magazine
The unpretentious and effortlessly hilarious Willis stood before her mic cracking jokes and spinning alternately hilarious and touching anecdotes… Billed as a “songwriter, live performer, visual artist, and iconic party thrower”,…the indefatigable and gifted Willis lives up to all of the hype, and more. Who else can one think of who created a marathon catalog of beloved chart-topping songs beginning in the late 1970s, wrote background score and songs for a 1980s movie blockbuster (“Beverly Hills Cop”) and “I’ll Be There For You,” the theme for the iconic long- running sitcom (“Friends”), and ultimately added to her incredibly eclectic repertoire in late career by co-writing a wondrous Broadway musical in 2005 (“The Color Purple”)?…Willis simultaneously projects counter-culture hipster and dearly beloved auntie. There’s plenty of warmth and refreshing humility mixed in with her thumb-your-nose attitude. – The Edge Media Network.
So please BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW for a magic carpet ride to Happy Land on the 21st day of September!!
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.
And the whole enchilada:
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.
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!!
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.
I also leave for Detroit on Sunday where I’ll be hosting a benefit greatest hits concert at my high school and telling stories of how some of my biggest hits were written while students perform the songs. This includes kids from the dance and drama classes, concert choir, marching band and ROTC drill team.
Don’t even ask me how excited I am about that! Plus it gives me a chance to rehearse some of the stories I’ll be telling at my live show in LA in May. I’ll also be speaking to students at my father’s high school as Cass becomes only the second high school ever to perform my musical, The Color Purple. And all this is stuffed in between 8 trillion meetings with movers and shakers, big and small, to feel out a couple of long term projects that I want to do in my beloved home town.
All of which means I’m going to be completely insane over the next 30 days, which will inevitably cut down on my blogging activities as time I may have spent writing is now going toward prep and rehearsal of those ever-important two days in May, not to mention my week in Detroit.
As a result, I’m going to try and become an interested little tweeter. I don’t know if this will work as I’ve resisted regular tweeting ever since the bird first launched. As an avid natural writer, I’ve always viewed the constant barrage of 140 characters as an invasion to my headspace. I’m also someone who likes to think about what I do, so longer than 140 has always suited me best. But, at least from where my head is right now, tweeting may save me as I try to report in tiny chunks as opposed to longer daily excursions. Here are my tweets from yesterday documenting my first steps toward the stage again:
Rehearsals for my Super Ball Bounce Back Review at King King May 8 & 9 have begun! http://kingkinghollywood.com/
Perhaps one day I’ll learn the lyrics to my own songs… Creeping slowly through Boogie Wonderland.
I know these are nothing dramatic and so far the only way I’m interested in tweeting is if I can have a photo as a punchline. I put this one up this morning, though the photo’s just a photo and not a punchline:
We’racing 2 finish horror film that opens my new show @ KingKing May 8&9. Best of horrific tech failures frm last show.
I hate typos like ‘We’racing’. That happened in efforts to cut down to less than 140 characters so a photo could accompany the tweet. In the old world I also wouldn’t have wanted to give away the fact that I was making a horror film of the most Titanic moments from the last show, but in a tweet-filled world there’s no room for secrets.
Today’s a free day at home, marking the start of the three day/three suitcase packing process. Hopefully the bug hasn’t hit me full strength just yet and I won’t become one of those tweeting fools who shows you every single thing I’m putting into those suitcases.
Of course, I couldn’t resist and just tweeted that. Now I just need to knock this down to 140 charcters:
My nimble assistants, Dina and Suellen, cut face masks and assemble souvenir multipurpose “Unisex Pendants and Keychains” made out of bubblegum charms that will be for sale at Allee Willis’ Super Ball Bounce Back Review May 8&9 at King King in Hollywood.