he Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts raised its goal of $1.7 million through sponsorships and donations during a benefit concert this weekend, beating an April 30 deadline before defaulting on a loan and possibly losing the theatre.
With the help of donors such as the DTE Energy Foundation, Lear Corp., and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, the Music Hall reached most of their goal well before the night of the benefit, but raised the last $100,000 through audience donations during the performance, headlined by legendary R&B singer Chaka Khan.
Friday's concert was the kickoff to a five-year capital campaign to raise $7 million to pay off the cultural center's debts.
"It's typical of the Music Hall to launch a capital campaign with a concert, it's really what we do." said Vince Paul, Music Hall President and Artistic Director. "We've been there for 88 years, It's definitely time to make sure that the Music Hall building is flying high for another 88 years.
"It just gives so much to the community in a very understated way," he added.
A bevy of local and national stars were in attendance for the evening, which was emceed by WDIV anchor Carmen Harlan.
Music Hall trustee Vivian Carpenter and her husband Jon Barfield led a pledge challenge, promising a $100,000 donation if Music Hall patrons raised $300,000. Though known in many circles as a business leader — he once was president and chairman of Bartech, a human resources and staffing firm — Barfield opened the show by playing the saxophone with a group of local artists including Ashton and Rivonne Moore, Maurissa Rose (best known as Kem’s co-lead singer on "If It's Love") and Michael Mindingall.
"Detroit has a very special relationship with the arts that is unmatched," Paul says. "Having a guy who is a titan of industry like Jon Barfield, blow the sax on our fundraising evening, it articulates who we are as a community and why we need to support the Music Hall."
Con Funk Shun singer Michael Cooper performed the group’s old-school classic "Love’s Train" shortly before Khan took the stage.
Of particular note was the diversity of the crowd, with attendees of different racial and economic backgrounds — something Music Hall Vice Chairman Leland Bassett, president and co-founder of the Bassett & Bassett public relations firm, says they try hard to maintain.
"We work very hard to make everything pluralistic. Our audience is pluralistic, our board pluralistic. We want to have people from different backgrounds," Bassett says.