The Philadelphia Music Alliance (PMA) returned “home” to the Avenue of the Arts in style today, with an afternoon ceremony inducting seven new honorees to the Walk of Fame, followed by the grandest evening gala celebration it has hosted in a generation, at one of Philadelphia’s most classic event destinations.
The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Hooters, TheO’Jays, Evelyn “Champagne” King, WMMR air personality Pierre Robert, music industry executive Jody Gerson, and philanthropist Dorrance“Dodo” Hamilton formally joined the Philadelphia Music Walk of Fame as members of its Class of 2019. With Mayor Jim Kenney presiding, their bronze plaques were unveiled before throngs of onlookers in front of Dorrance Hamilton Hall, preceding a stellar gala event before 500 patrons at the iconic Bellevue Philadelphia, at the opposite end of the Walk of Fame.
“The response was just tremendous,” said PMA chairman Alan Rubens. “We’re thrilled that we were able to stage an historic day capped by a gala of this magnitude. And it’s especially sweet that we could bring the entire day’s proceedings back home to the Avenue of the Arts, where we launched the Walk of Fame over 30 years ago.
“This year’s honorees class is filled with legends from especially diverse backgrounds, allowing us to once again display the variety of this city’s phenomenal music genres – from classical to rock to Philly soul – as well as honoring one of the music industry’s most respected and accomplished executives, and a beloved philanthropist whose contributions to music education in our city is without peer.”
Sirius XM Volume & 80s on 8 host Mark Goodman, a Philadelphia native and WMMR alumnus, came home to host the grand evening gala, with rousing live performances by each of the artist inductees – the Philadelphia Orchestra, The O’Jays, The Hooters, and Evelyn “Champagne” King. Also coming home for the evening was fellow Philadelphian and newly announced Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee Todd Rundgren, a longtime Walk of Fame alumnus, making a special guest appearance to induct The Hooters. Among fellow Walk of Fame alumni, Kenny Gamble & Leon Huff, Sound of Philadelphia legendary architects, inducted the O’Jays with the Philadelphia Award; Larry Magid, legendary concert promoter and chairman emeritus, inducted Jody Gerson, and “The Geator” Jerry Blavat, oldies radio personality, introduced the “Radio Row” Award and BEN-FM morning personality Matt Cord to induct Pierre Robert. His longtime rock star friends Jon Bon Jovi and bandmates Tico Torres and David Bryan, as well as Graham Nash, all sent personal video congratulations to Robert projected on oversized screens.
Life, the producer who discovered Evelyn “Champagne” King singing as she cleaned the restrooms of Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records, returned to induct the Disco/R&B songstress. Other guest presenters were Ukee Washington, CBS3 news anchor, inducting the Orchestra (Matias Tarnopolsky, Orchestra President & CEO, accepted); and David Yager, President & CEO, University of the Arts, inducting Dorrance Hamilton. Returning as the evening’s house band was the world-renowned Urban Guerilla Orchestra.
Several other Walk of Fame alumni were on hand at the gala, including former teen idol Bobby Rydell, Sarah Dash of Labelle; Jerry Gross of The Dovells; Charlie Ingui of The Soul Survivors; legendary music industry trade publisher and philanthropist Kal Rudman (Friday Morning Quarterback), and Sigma Sound Studios founder and Sound of Philadelphia engineer, Joseph Tarsia. Additional notables at the affair included surging Philly hip-hop artist Tierra Whack, Academy Award-winning songwriter Franke Previte (Dirty Dancing), Grammy-winning producers Phil Nicolo and Joe Donofrio; Grammy nominated producer Rick Chertoff; soap opera star Frank Dicopoulos (CBS Guiding Light), orchestra leader and singer Eddie Bruce; jazz musician Gerald Veasley, and R&B songstress Carol Riddick, current co-star of the new touring musical The Un4gettables.
All proceeds from the gala support the new PMA Music Education Fund.