The Donna Summer Tribute Site

Race To Erase MS Benefit

May 18, 2001

I got this report in my email today from Kevin and as promised, I'm posting it for all of you:


Hey what's up? Well as promised here is my update on the Race to Erase fundraiser I went to on Friday 05/18/2001. First of all, let me just say that even though we paid $500.00 a ticket it was well worth it. Not only did Donna give a stunning performance but I was fortunate enough to meet the ONE and ONLY ***** CHER ******

Not to discount seeing our lovely Donna but it was pretty amazing to meet such a legend.

O.K. Enough is Enough about CHER on to Donna. First of all she came out in a long tight dress w / jacket and guess what? It was not BLACK !!!!!! It was a mint green with floral print and small amount of sequins on the sleeves only. Unfortunately it was not very flattering on her (made the hips look too big). I love Donna immensely but she needs a better fashion coordinator to help hide any problem areas (hips) as she has even admitted to having. The outfit was just not up to her usual elegance, but she still sounded great of course. She has also CUT yes CUT her hair. Not a short wig but her own hair (at least it looked like hers) I am a pretty good judge of whether it is a wig or not and his looked like her real hair. The color was real red with lots of blonde highlights and kind of a shag cut at the ends (like Faith Hill did recently). I of course prefer the longer hair like on VH1 Divas special or long and curly but I guess she was ready for a change.

I did not get to speak with her this time as she did not come through the press line or have a meet and greet but I was flattered that she noticed me right in front of her after the first song and pointed to me and said KEVIN - HI !!!!!!!!! She also played up to me during the other songs which was cool. I did talk with Mike Hanna just before they went on stage. He advised me and I quote " the CD is nowhere near complete and should not be out until after the first of next year 2002. He sounded pretty confident and sure since it was not even half done so far.

As far as the program goes as Mike put it will are doing the (Standard 5). Donna opened with MacArthur Park, Hard for the Money then Bad Girls / Hot Stuff and of course ended with Last Dance. She had everyone (even the stuffed shirts) on their feet the whole time singing and dancing. Also she came back out at the end to join the entire cast of celebrities to sing Lean on Me as a group.

P.S. You were right about the MS benefit CD that comes out on June 2001 her version of Someone to Watch Over Me is on there and it is the (live video version) from Live and More Encore. I know this because I already have the actual CD in my hands now. They gave them to us in our gift bags as we left the event.

From Liz Smith's May 24, 2001 column: 

It wasn't a Denise Rich party per se, but the wealthy Democratic party-giver seemed to be having the time of her life last weekend at the Rock 'N Soul to Erase MS gala and the reopening of the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa in L.A. Well, who could resist the VIP lineup for this Nancy Davis-sponsored charity that raised $2.6 million to fight multiple sclerosis research? Marvin and Barbara, Nancy's famous parents, give their own hot parties to fight diabetes. But Nancy herself has MS. And Tommy Hilfiger, whose sister has MS, was her co-host.

John Travolta and Nelly Furtado joined singing legends Stevie Wonder, Donna Summer and Brian McKnight on stage, with David Hasselhoff doing his part. He and Montel Williams bid against one another for a $38,000 trip around the world. David won!

Denise herself "got down" in purple-and-pink floral bell bottoms and silver spiked heels as she danced in the aisles with female pals, while Donna Summer sang "Hot Stuff" and "Last Dance."

The ageless Cher introduced Stevie Wonder and later did a private sing-along in the hotel lobby with David Foster. Others in the glamorous crowd were Sidney Poitier, Jennifer Tilly, Lea Thompson, Penny Marshall, Tony Danza, Dominique Swain, Tom Arnold, Kelly Preston, Anjelica Huston, Robert Graham, the Steve Tisches, Sly and Jennifer Stallone, Bill Maher, Kathy Najimy, David Lander, Larry King, LeRoy Neiman, Stone Phillips and Cornelia Guest. Even Madonna's ex-John Enos was on hand. Dustin Hoffman wheeled in his mother-in-law, Marcia, a 30-year MS survivor. Dustin wisecracked, "She's doing well. On a scale of 10, she had a 91/2 sexual experience with my father-in-law before we got here!"

From Variety, May 23, 2001:

HOLLYWOOD (Variety) - One of show business's most difficult -- if not impossible -- challenges is motivating an emphatically over-30 crowd at a hotel ballroom charity fund-raiser to stand up and move like under-30s at a rockconcert.

But getting an enthusiastic rise out of the crowd is exactly what Donna Summer and then Stevie Wonder pulled off Friday during the Race Against MS dinner at the Century Plaza.

``Whenever I sing, you can party,'' Summer called out to the dancing throng halfway through her set. ``I hope you party.''

Though Summer seemed the embodiment of the phrase ``a tough act to follow,'' the 1,300 audience members were back on their feet after Cher intro'd Wonder (``Without him I don't know what music would be like'') for his 30-minute set.

The perfs capped an event that raised $2.6 million for multiple sclerosis research. Also participating were Montel Williams, Nelly Furtado, Brian McKnight, Bill Maher, Tony Danza, Tom Arnold and comic Billy Connolly, who said that ``when I took this gig I didn't know it was a race to erase multiple sclerosis. I thought it was about erasing Ms., that feminist crap. I hate political correctness.''

Among those on hand were Thora Birch, David Foster, Teri Garr, Dustin Hoffman, Anjelica Huston, Bai Ling, music mogul Mo Ostin, Denise Rich, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Tilly and producer Steve Tisch.

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