Live events are back from coast to coast, but that doesn’t mean virtual gatherings are a thing of the past – and neither is the pandemic phenomenon. RWQuarantunes.
WME partner Richard Weitz and his daughter Demi Weitz kicked off their virtual fundraising series Thursday night in partnership with City of Hope for the organization’s 16th annual Songs of Hope Gala presented by Facebook. Proving that there is always an audience for these things, the gala raised over $ 780,000 supported by an award-winning lineup including Brandi Carlile, Smokey Robinson, rising music stars (and the real couple) Gracie. Abrams and Blake Slatkin, Oscar winner Hildur Guðnadóttir and the late Pop Smoke, Daniel Nigro and Loretta Erhunmwunsee of City of Hope.
The virtual celebration, presented by Facebook, raised big money to support City of Hope’s mission to end cancer and diabetes, a tally that pushed RWQuarantunes to $ 27.4 million raised for more than 50 organizations since March 2020. Spinmaster and Pass the microphone Guru DJ Cassidy, fresh off an appearance on “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert”, kicked off the night and kicked off the energy by broadcasting live from Kerry Brown’s Rolling Live Studios on Ventura Boulevard.
Demi – who started hosting RW Quarantines alongside her father when she was 17 and now a freshman in college – she promised surprises, special guests, and impromptu performance “sniper” moments and the night didn’t disappoint.
The hour-long show featured performances by Duran Duran and Simon Le Bon’s John Taylor, who offered the iconic song “Ordinary World” (an appearance that ticked off a bucket list item for Richard Weitz, who said he wanted them ever since RW Quarantines from the start), Jac Ross and Rob Thomas with guest appearances by host Jimmy Jam, Benny Blanco, Aloe Blacc, The Dream, Carole Bayer Sager, Diane Warren, Jennifer Holliday, (former Songs of Hope winner) Desmond Child, Todd Phillips, Deborah Cox, Event Co-Chair Evan Lamberg, and others.
Ryan Press was honored to present the program’s first prize, the Warner Chappell’s Voice of Hope Award, which was presented posthumously in honor of late hip-hop star Pop Smoke. The Dream recorded a message about the slain rapper, who was killed during a home robbery attempt in February 2020. Later, his mother, Audrey Jackson, accepted the award on behalf of her son and continued to honor his memory during a question-and-answer session with Billboard Gail Mitchell during which she praised her son’s talent and revealed her desire to one day be a business leader and entrepreneur.
music mogul (and RW Quarantines veterinarian) Clive Davis presented Robinson with the Clive Davis Legend in Songwriting Award. The co-chairs of the event turned the tide in a moment of surprise by presenting Davis with another trophy, the Songs of Hope Heroes Award. Event co-chair Lamberg praised Davis for his contributions over the years, calling him the “foundation and cornerstone” of Songs of Hope. Also during this segment, Aloe Blacc appeared to sing a bit of her hit single, “The Man”, while Island Records artist Ross impressed during a short series of Robinson classics with “My Girl. “and” Cruisin “.
Speaking of music, Matchbox Twenty frontman Thomas captivated the virtual crowd with an acoustic take of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” before accepting requests for songs in return for donations, including “Bent.” and “Little Wonder”.
Ears were raised when it came time to present the Songwriter Impact Award to rising stars Abrams and Slatkin. She’s a singer-songwriter (and daughter of Hollywood powerhouse couple JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath) set to embark on a North American headlining tour, This is What it Feels Like . He is a songwriter and producer who counts among the best hits of Iann Dior (“Mood”) and Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber (“Stay”). Facebook’s Zeina Grenier and Alexa Cabellon were joined by surprise guest Benny Blanco to present them with the award, before a short performance.
An established, Grammy Award-winning act also featured at the event as Brandi Carlile received a She is the Music Award, presented by Universal Music Publishing Group President and CEO Jody Gerson. The trophy arrived a few hours before the release of his new album, In these days of silence.
Nigro received the Sony Music Publishing Creative Trailblazer Award, presented to him by Sony’s Nick Bral and Jennifer Knoepfle, which highlighted his many accomplishments, including his recent work on Olivia Rodrigo’s hit album. Sour. Erhunmwunsee, assistant professor in the City of Hope’s thoracic surgery division, won the Beverly and Ben Horowitz Legacy Award, named after the institution’s longtime CEO and first lady. Under Horowitz’s leadership, City of Hope has grown from a small hospital specializing in tuberculosis to a leader in research and treatment.
The online gala was made possible with the support of Clive Davis, Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony Music Publishing, Warner Chappell Music and EA Music with additional support from ASCAP, Bruce Resnikoff, Barbara and Zach Horowitz, Concord, Jody and Gary Marsh, Hipgnosis, Mark and Ana Maria Gordon, and YouTube Music. The co-chairs included Doug Davis of Davis, Lamberg, president of North America / Universal Music Publishing Group, David Renzer and Steve Schnur, global director and president of Music for Electronic Arts.