The annual Spirit of Life gala set records in attendance (1,900) and money raised ($10 million) for the City of Hope’s cancer research, making it one of the largest one-night charity events in California history.
The fund-raiser, held Oct. 15 adjacent to the beach in Santa Monica, honored Doug Morris, chairman & CEO of Universal Music Group, and also celebrated the legacy of Motown Records, which turns 50 next year. More than a dozen artists signed to Universal labels provided the entertainment by covering vintage Motown classics: Erykah Badu tore up Rick James’ “Mary Jane”; Duffy delicately warbled Smokey Robinson‘s “I Second That Emotion” and Jamie Cullum frolicked on “Money (That’s What I Want),” a Berry Gordy composition that was a hit for Barrett Strong.
Stevie Nicks, whom Morris signed as a solo act when he ran Atlantic Records, opened the evening with a story about a late friend who was treated at City of Hope. Nicks followed the other performers and cooed the Supremes hit “Love Is Like an Itching in My Heart” before the ensemble delivered an a cappella version of “Sweet Talking Guy,” which Morris wrote in the early 1960s.
On hand to enjoy the evening were Apple chairman Steve Jobs, Universal president-COO Zach Horowitz, Motown founder Gordy, David Geffen, CBS president-CEO Leslie Moonves, Viacom chairman and CEO Sumner Redstone, the Jonas Brothers, Robinson, Lil Jon and Nelly.