Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Philip Bailey of Earth, Wind & Fire headlined the City Parks Foundation Gala at the SummerStage Rumsey Playfield on June 3 in Central Park as he led a tribute to The Beatles for the 50th anniversary of the group’s first performance in New York City. It was the largest single fundraising event in the history of the foundation and raised a record $1.3 million. The City Parks Foundation provides free year-round arts, sports, education and community-building programs for over 600,000 people annually in over 750 parks throughout New York's five boroughs.
Bailey was the final artist of the evening, performing “I Saw Her Standing There,” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s Grammy award winning version of “Got To Get You Into My Life” from the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack. Bailey recently published his autobiography Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire. He will headline with Ramsey Lewis on June 12, 13, 14 and 15 at The Blue Note during the month-long Blue Note Jazz Festival.
Joining Bailey in performing the music of The Beatles were Grammy award winner Paula Cole, Marshall Crenshaw, Southside Johnny, former “Saturday Night Live” bandleader G.E. Smith, Jon Batiste, David Broza, Willie Nile, and Teddy Thompson, Highlights included Cole’s versions of “Get Back” and “She’s Leaving Home,” Batiste singing “Blackbird” and “Paperback Writer,” and Southside Johnny providing his interpretation of “Helter Skelter” and “Drive My Car.” 19 Beatles songs were performed during the all-star concert. For the finale, Bailey led all the artists in singing The Beatles’ classic, “All You Need Is Love.”
Andrew Tisch, Co-Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Loews Corporation, received the People & Parks Award for his commitment to enriching New York City’s parks. Among the 600 guests were former Warner Music Group CEO Lyor Cohen, fashion designer Nicole Miller, and television personality Paula Zahn.
The annual SummerStage program, New York’s largest free performing arts festival, also kicked off June 3 with a series of 100 music, dance, film, comedy, family and theater performances in 14 parks in the five boroughs through August 24. Artists include John Leguizamo, Beck, Dr. John, Counting Crows, Gavin DeGraw, Musiq Soulchild, and Joe, as well as performances from The Metropolitan Opera and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Summerstage shows are attended by 300,000 annually, and since its inception in 1986, more than six million people have enjoyed SummerStage events.