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Hundreds celebrate new Detroit anthem "The D" at the DIA

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- The Motor City got a new theme song on Thursday night, Sept. 28.

And a party to go with it.

Grammy Award-winning songwriter and Detroit native Allee Willis debuted her ebullient new anthem "The D" -- the product of several years of singalongs and recording sessions with more than 5,000 singers and instrumentalists -- before several hundred people at the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Mumford High School alumnus, who now resides in Los Angeles, showed two versions of the song's video, a full rendition and a slightly shorter radio edit, and hosted a number of other festivities in the DIA's Rivera Court.

"It feels unbelievable," the colorfully garbed Willis -- sporting an orange jacket, purple Detroit T-shirt and gold pants and tennis shoes -- said as she waded through crowds of well-wishers mobbing her at the museum. "You never think anything is going to work, but when you see it connect with these people and the pride they get from it, it's unbelievable.

"I love Detroit more than ever right now."

Willis planned to post the videos -- colorful montages filmed around the city, blended with animation and special effects -- on her web site, alliewillis.com, and on social media. Notable participants in the song include Motown veterans Lamont Dozier, Valerie Simpson, Paul Riser and Martha Reeves, MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer, actress Lily Tomlin, Mayer Hawthorne and fellow Grammy Award-winner Narada Michael Walden.

In addition to the videos, Thursday's parties featured performances by the Mosaic Youth Theatre, a tribute by Willis to Motown arranger Riser and singalongs to hits she wrote such as Earth, Wind & Fire's "September." Willie fed the crowd sandwiches from Chef Greg's Soul "N" The Wall along with peach cobbler and mounds of candy stacked on tables in the Rivera Court.

Attendees also drew portraits on themselves on paper plates that were taped to a large board for permanent display.

"It's amazing," local singer-songwriter and philanthropist Ethan Daniel Davidson said at the museum. "When she was telling us about the Detroit song idea, it sound totally crazy -- crazy like a fox, now. It really turned out great, and it sends a positive message about the city, which is great, too."

Web Site: www.alleewillis.com

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