Motown founder Berry Gordy, Boys II Men, Chris Tucker, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, Brandon Victor Dixon and Smokey Robinson! Just another Tuesday at Evantine Design, Inc. as the crew heads to The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts to install fabulous décor for tonight’s Marian Anderson Awards Gala honoring the incredible music industry icon, Berry Gordy. As it always does, the gala brings out the creme de la creme of Philadelphia society with just over 600 guests attending to honor and celebrate the amazing career of Berry Gordy. After all these years, we still manage to get starstruck when confronted with such amazing talent.
Hosting the 2013 Award Gala will be critically-acclaimed actor and comedian Chris Tucker, seen most recently in the Academy Award-nominated film “Silver Linings Playbook,” set in Philadelphia. To honor the musical legacy of Motown founder Berry Gordy, the performance line-up will feature stars of American pop music. The program will include two multiple Grammy-winning groups: Philadelphia’s own Boyz II Men plus Kool and the Gang. Joining them will be Philadelphia up-and-comer, Cody Wise, who starred in the “Lion King” on Broadway. Motown superstar Smokey Robinson will present a tribute, along with “Philly Sound” songwriting and producing pioneers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, followed by a special performance by Tony Award nominee Brandon Victor Dixon, who stars as Gordy himself in “Motown The Musical.” Finally, to mark the 15th anniversary of the Marian Anderson Award, Former Governor Ed Rendell will be honored as its founder and for his impact on the arts in Philadelphia.
In announcing Gordy as the Marian Anderson Award’s 2013 recipient, Award Chair Pamela Browner White said that,
“This year we will be honoring an individual who created a new genre of American music that is beloved around the world, by young and old, black and white. Just as Marian Anderson did for classical music, Berry Gordy created an extraordinary common ground for all music lovers. Through his work with so many great artists, our society was brought closer together and we continue to sing the classic songs of the genre he created.”
The Marian Anderson Award, sponsored by Wells Fargo, honors artists whose leadership on behalf of a humanitarian cause(s) or issue(s) benefits society. Previous recipients include James Earl Jones (2012), Mia Farrow (2011), Bill Cosby (2010), Maya Angelou and Norman Lear (2008), Richard Gere (2007), Sidney Poitier (2006), Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis (2005), Oprah Winfrey (2003), Danny Glover (2002), Quincy Jones (2001), Elizabeth Taylor (2000), Gregory Peck (1999), and Harry Belafonte (1998). No award was given in 2004 or 2009. Created in 1998, the Award is named for the great Philadelphian and American singer Marian
Anderson, and is produced and administered under the direction of J. Patrick Moran. Since its inception, the Award program has provided more than $500,000 in free public programs, residencies, commissions, and grants to young artists.
Marian Anderson, the most celebrated contralto of the 20th century, was born in Philadelphia on February 27, 1897, to an African-American family of modest means. Recognized for her extraordinary musical talent, as well as her generosity and commitment to others, Ms. Anderson was a master of repertoire across operatic, recital, and American traditional genres. Throughout her musical career, she played an incalculably vital role in the acceptance of African-American musicians in classical musical and in other previously segregated performing arts genre. In 1957, Ms. Anderson was appointed by the U.S. Department of State to serve as a Special
Envoy to the Far East, and the following year President Dwight D. Eisenhower named her to the post of delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations. She sang at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961; in 1963 President Lyndon B. Johnson bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon her. On her 75th birthday, in 1974, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution ordering a special gold medal minted in her honor. On April 8, 1993, Marian Anderson died at the age of 96 in Portland, Oregon. Her legacy continues to shine.