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MusiCares Carole King Person Of The Year Event and auction will help musicians

Lady Gaga on the red carpet at the 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year Event
Photo © 2014 PHYLLIS POLLACK

On January 29, 2014, The Grammy Foundation revealed a previously unannounced, new major item as part its ensuing Grammy Online Grammy Auction, subsequent to the MusiCares Person Of The Year Event honoring Carole King.

The special new item is a coveted Grammy Greenroom Book, signed by Grammy winners Yoko Ono, Ozzy Osbourne, Daft Punk, Macklemore and Ryan and other surprise artists.

The efforts are part of a campaign to help raise much-needed funds for the Grammy Foundation and its charity MusiCares.

The January 24th Grammy Week MusiCares Person of the Year gala brought out a bevy of stars and performances to pay homage to Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and multi-platinum recording artist Carole King.

Proceeds from the high-profile Grammy Week event were earmarked for MusiCares, generating the Grammy Foundation’s charity five and a half million dollars to help musicians and others working in music that have fallen upon hard times.

The annual event is the biggest fundraiser each year for the charity that offers a wide range services for musicians.

This year, King was honored for her humanitarian work, and her contributions to the music world.

Despite all the accolades she received during the Grammy Week gala, “Tonight is not really about me,” King remarked. “It is about people who care.”

King also said of the services offered by MusiCares to people working in the music business, “It’s about the community we are.”

Many artists and celebrities, who did not perform, also showed up to give their support to the event.

Among such artists were Yoko Ono, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, ASCAP President and Daft Punk producer Paul Williams, and Grammy-winning Adele collaborator Dan Wilson.

A strikingly radiant King looked noticeably far younger than her age at 72. “

During the evening, King’s astronomical career achievements were highlighted, from her early days in New York, as part of the Brill Building songwriters, to her present life.

Energetic, and still showing a passion for creating music, among the songs she played at the tribute was a Mid-Eastern flavored version of “Home Again,” featuring two Egyptian musicians.

King enthused, “If I was 27 instead of 72, I’d take this on the road.”

Lada Gaga, who performed last night, was also one of the many donors. Dressed rather conservatively, Gaga donned a pageboy styled wig, and donned white clothing to match the piano she played during her performance.

Gaga impressed the audience with her strong performance of King’s “You’ve Got A Friend.” Gaga praised the honoree at the event, stating of her own youth, "I didn't want to face the world. I used to close all the doors.”

When introducing her performance, Gaga said, “I would crank this song so high and I really believed so much, Carole, that you were my friend.”

The “Fame” singer’s closing words to King were, “Thank you for inspiring us female songwriters every day.”

However, it was not only her voice that Lady Gaga donated to the charity that helps musicians in need with everything from medical care to getting help for battling substance abuse.

Lady Gaga also donated her vintage Rolls Royce, making it one of the many items used to raise money for MusiCares during the evening’s two auctions, one silent, and one held during the dinner, with the Grammy Foundation’s Vice President Scott Goldman serving as auctioneer.

During a series of pair-up performances honoring King, Will .i.am of the Black Eyed Peas hooked up Irish songstress Leah McFall for "Love Makes the World." Among his comments within his performance, Will stated, “Coming out of a bad area in the ghetto, there were songs that changed my life.”

For Will.i.am, the song of King’s that he performed was one of them.

He also sang high praises of McFall, explaining that he had met her in England, and that had been very taken by her voice. McFall lived up to the seven-time Grammy-winner’s accolades, flaunting a voice with a range of more than three octaves.

McFall drew public attention as a contestant on the UK version of The Voice last year, on which Will.I.Am served as a judge. He subsequently re-recorded his song “Bang Bang,” including McFall on vocals.

In addition to performances, Jimmy Kimmel, who served as the evening’s host, kept the night flowing, as well, with humorous one-liners.

At one point, Kimmel said of King’s iconic 1970 Grammy-winning disc, “Fifty years. That cat from the Tapestry album has to be dead, right?"

While playing piano, Alicia Keys poured out a stunningly beautiful rendition of King’s “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” a composition that was also famously recorded by Aretha Franklin.

Upon making the song her own, Keys received a standing ovation.

More laughter ensued when Kimmel stated, “Back then, there was an unfortunate tradition of black people stealing white peoples’ music.

One of the musical highlights of the evening was Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer, Merry Clayton and Judith Hill, with “Way Over Yonder,” turning it into a powerful gospel performance.

Despite their vast collection of work, Clayton and Fischer are best known for their respective performances of the Rolling Stones song “Gimme Shelter.”

Clayton is heard on the original studio version, and Fischer has been performing the song with the Stones since the band’s 1989 Steel Wheels tour, signifying the band’s final trek with original bassist Bill Wyman.

The four legendary singers, are among those featured in Morgan Neville’s spectacular, critically acclaimed documentary, Twenty Feet From Stardom.”

Country artists were also major contributors at the evening’s high-profile Grammy Week event.

Miranda Lambert performed with Jennifer Nettles, Martina McBride, and Amy Grant for samplings of "Been to Canaan" from Tapestry, "I'm into Something Good," a smash for Herman’s Hermits, and "One Fine Day," a song that was most notably recorded by the Chiffons.

While the foursome united, spinning harmonies, Lambert also held her own, performing King’s “It Might As Well Rain Until September.”

Grammy-winning Latin heart throb Miguel, and Kacey Musgraves joined forces, presenting one of King’s earlier works, “Crying In The Rain.” It shot up the charts in 1962, when recorded by the Everly Brothers.

The loss from Phil Everly’s recent death was not lost on the music savvy audience.

Two nights later, Everly was remembered at the Grammy Awards, with a special tribute from Green Day punker Billy Joe Armstrong and country singer Miranda Lambert, with a a duet of the 1960 hit “When Will I Be Loved.”

King’s daughter Louise Goffin, beamed with pride as she performed her mother’s song “I’m Goin’ Back” with Jakob Dylan, a member of the Wallflowers and son of the iconic Bob Dylan. The progeny of two of the most prolific songwriters of the modern age resulted in a memorable delivery, showcasing the duo well together.

That song had also caught the attention of Bruce Springsteen, who performed it live as early as 1975.

One of the intriguing aspects about the night’s repertoire was that many of the artists stepped out of their genres, showing their versatility.

Case in point: One would have expected Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to grab the mic and wail away to one of King’s rockers, such as “Locomotion” or “Smackwater Jack.”

However, Tyler competently sang a duet with the riveting LeAnn Rimes, enchanting the audience with the unexpected "Hi-De-Ho,” co-written by King and her ex-husband Gerry Goffin.

No stranger to other historical works that emanated from the famed Brill Building, Aersomith recorded “(Remember) Walking In The Sand,” a 1964 success for the Shangri-Las in 1980. It was not penned by King, but in a coincidence, Louise Goffin recorded it on her debut album Kid Blue.

Jason Mraz, Zac Brown, Sara Bareilles and the Raining Jane wowed the crowd at the formal event, convening with King’s "Beautiful."

“I know most everyone in the room tonight is pretty rich, but we’re pretty lucky right?” asked Kimmel.

On stage, while raising money for the much-needed cause, President and CEO of The Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, reminisced about his early days in the music business, working in the mailroom at Dunhill Records.

Iconic producer and record mogul Lou Adler founded the label in 1964, and later sold it to ABC. Adler, who was present in the audience, founded Ode Records in 1967.

Adler’s signing of King led to his producing her Tapestry album, which received Grammy accolades including Album of the Year in 1972, and its single “It’s Too Late” taking Record of the Year.

It also snagged Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female.

Portnow recalled his excitement when working for the label, and seeing King there. He related that he could not wait to purchase a copy of her upcoming debut Tapestry at the record store. Mused Portnow, “Remember those?”

Portnow then announced that he had recently rifled through his record collection, in hopes of finding that Tapestry disc. He held the vinyl album up for the audience to see, then said that he had always wanted it autographed by King.

When pronouncing her as the MusiCares Person of the Year, King walked on stage and hugged Portnow, saying, “First things first,” and stopped to sign his treasured disc. The poignant moment was also one of laughter for the audience.

In a video documentary shown about King’s life, she confessed, “Nobody took me seriously. I found my niche in music.”

When acknowledging her natural ability to write hit songs, she referred to her “higher power,” stating, “The music flows through me.”

When addressing her charitable work, King referred to herself as “a caring person…what people call a liberal.”

The documentary video, highlighting King’s immense achievements as a songwriter also reminded the audience of the seemingly endless list of her songs that were recorded by other artists, such as the rendition of “Pleasant Valley Sunday” by the Monkees.

Saxophonist Tom Scott, whose accomplishments include his work with Joni Mitchell, was the perfect artist to grace the MusiCares audience with King’s “Jazzman,” a song that was nominated for a Grammy in 1975 for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

Four-time Grammy recipients, Mexican pop rockers, brother and sister act Jesse and Joy, blessed the audience with King’s “Where You Lead” and “Corazon,” with its title being the Spanish word for “heart.”

Singing in English, the artfully presented song was a departure from the duo’s other performances, all of which have been recorded in Spanish.

The audience was also treated to Patrick Monahan of Train, who sang the groundbreaking “I Feel The Earth Move,” King danced to its piano riffs.

Her biggest hit, “It’s Too Late,” was taken on by Gloria Estefan.

Three-time Grammy-winner Pink, dressed conservatively in a fetching black beaded dress and matching earrings, accompanied herself on piano, unfolding the sentimental “So Far Away.”

Among those congratulating King was Hillary Rodham Clinton, who spoke of King, via a previously filmed video that was shown at the event.

As the evening progressed, footage was shown of iconic artists performing works written by King.

Among them were Springsteen’s seductive version of “I’m On Fire,” Elton John eloquently performing “The Streets of Philadelphia,” Sir Paul McCartney with “No More Lonely Nights,” and a poignant John Legend version of the Bruce Springsteen hit “Dancing in the Dark.”

Significantly, James Taylor was an instrumental part of King’s career in more ways than one. At the gala, she credited him with being the person who convinced her that she was not only a songwriter, but that she could be a successful performer.

Within her comments, King looked back at her life, saying, ““I’ve always been a songwriter first. I never dreamed I'd be a performing artist,”

King sounded both emotional and grateful when speaking of Taylor. “He made me realize I could do it,” said King.

He is heard playing on many of King’s recordings, most famously, on the Tapestry album.

His recording of her song “You’ve Got A Friend” was among the string of hits that shot Taylor into being a star in his own right.

“You've Got a Friend" won a 1972 Grammy for Taylor, in the category of Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.

King’s version of “You’ve Got A Friend” received the Grammy for Song of The Year in 1972.

Together at the MusiCares fundraiser, Taylor and King performed “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow,” a Shirelle’s hit in 1960.

Taylor and King’s combined talents also merged for a medley of "Sweet Seasons" and "Hey Girl" at the benefit.

No King tribute from Taylor would be complete without his performance of her autobiographical look from “Up On The Roof,” another major hit he scored as a result of King’s songwriting.

This one took him not only to the top of the roof, but also to the Top 40 of the charts in 1979. It drew a standing ovation at the MusiCares Person of the Year event.

Recorded by numerous acts, it was among many of the songs that were showcased during the MusiCares event, which had been reincarnated as a hit more than once. Penned by King and Goffin, it was also recorded in 1962 by The Drifters.

It was even recorded by garage bands, and Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band played it on the 1975 Born To Run tour.

The pair’s more than 40 years of success included their performance at the Los Angeles club the Troubadour. Reference was made by Kimmel to the King and Taylor’s Troubadour Reunion gigs.

Addressing the upscale crowd, Kimmel joked about the surroundings, noting, “What venue seems least like the Troubadour?'”

At the event, a major item donated for auction was a leather-bound journal, containing King’s only handwritten lyrics of the entire Tapestry album. It went quickly, netting MusiCares $150,000.00.

Other items at the live auction included a customized Acura, with features that included a custom plaque, commemorating King’s MusiCares honor.

The silent auction, sponsored by Starkey Hearing Foundation, offered everything from VIP dream vacations to Gibson guitars. Celebrity meet and greets were also plentiful.

Enviable rock and roll memorabilia was also up for bidding at the auction.

There was an extensive amount of jewelry, beauty and spa experiences, entertainment opportunities, sports experiences and sporting equipment.

A favorite part of the auction was The Gallery, which included artwork by artists including Jefferson Airplane vocalist Grace Slick from Area Arts, a painting of Bruce Springsteen by Peter Max, classic rock photography by Rob Shanahan Photography Gallery and other to-die-for pieces.

An online auction, benefiting the Grammy Foundation and MusiCares, is currently ensuing through February 6, 2014 with additional items available, many of which were autographed by Grammy-winning artists and nominees, backstage at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.

Those wanting to bid may go to http://givingworks.ebay.com/grammy-charities.

For more information, please see visit this link regarding the Grammy auction.

MusiCares was begun in 1989 by The Recording Academy to provide a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need, offering programs and services including emergency financial assistance, and other help.

MusiCares' services and resources cover a wide range of financial, medical and personal emergencies.

Each case is treated with integrity and confidentiality. MusiCares also focuses its resources and attention of the music industry, gearing them towards human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community.

For more information, please visit www.musicares.org.

The MusiCares Musicians Assistance Program (MAP Fund) allows access to addiction recovery treatment and sober living resources for members of the music community, and Safe Harbor Rooms, weekly addiction support groups, and the MusiCares Sober Touring Network provide ongoing recovery support.

Among her comments, King also spoke about the 2011 honorary degree bestowed upon her by the prestigious Berklee College of Music. She notes that at the same time, honorary degrees were also given to Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics and to country singer Willie Nelson.

King evoked laughter from those present as she recalled that just after receiving his honorary PHD, Nelson asked, “Can I write my own prescriptions now?”

One thing was made strikingly clear at the MusiCares event about Carole King. We will still love her tomorrow.

Phyllis Pollack covered the MusiCares Person of the Year Tribute Live from the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Follow Phyllis Pollack on Twitter.