Press-shy mega-songwriter Max Martin made a rare public appearance at last night’s annual Songs of Hope charity event to accept the Clive Davis “Legend in Songwriting Award” from the iconic record exec himself. The gala affair was held for the first time in the backyard of hit producer/label head Alex Da Kid’s sprawling Sherman Oaks home, as music publishers, songwriters and assorted luminaries gathered to raise money at the 13th annual fund-raiser. Hans Zimmer, Jack Antonoff, The Chainsmokers and pioneering immunologist Saul Priceman were also feted, with a silent auction that has raised $3.3 million for the industry’s pet Duarte, California, charity. The event had been held the previous three years at veteran industry exec Ron Fair’s Brentwood home before he moved cross-country to another Brentwood, this one outside Nashville.
“This is our opportunity to be philanthropic and to recognize the role of music in the healing process, as therapeutic,” said the event’s regular host, Grammy-winning producer/songwriter Jimmy Jam, who added his mother passed from cancer and his son suffers from diabetes, another disease the City of Hope is looking to cure.”
Added The Chainsmokers’ Alex Pall, “We’re honored to be here for a great cause. City of Hope is an incredible place. It’s cool to be honored with Max Martin and Hans Zimmer, who are two of our biggest inspirations, and Jack Antonoff is a colleague we’ve always admired.”
Among the items in the silent auction were meet-and- greets and tickets to Las Vegas shows for Cher, Celine Dion and Britney Spears.
Max Martin, a man of few words, followed an introduction by Clive Davis, culminating his own hectic week in which he premiered the documentary, “The Soundtrack of Our Lives,” and a new Johnny Mathis album for which he served as executive producer.
“To me, the doctors and nurses who fight this disease every day are the real legends,” said Martin.
Sony/ATV Music Publishing head Martin Bandier presented his namesake Vanguard Award to Jack Antonoff for a year in which he co-wrote with Taylor Swift and Lorde and released his own album with his band Bleachers. Bandier recounted meeting Antonoff “over a plate of spaghetti at one of my favorite restaurants, Patsy’s,” while Jack reminisced, “I wanted so badly to look like him with that hair and the cigar, and when I found out he was Jewish, I realized I could… This award means the world to me. It’s an amazing cause very close to my heart.” Jimmy Jam then expressed surprise to learn Marty wasn’t Italian.
Pandora head of publisher licensing and relations Adam Parness handed out the “Trendsetter” Award to The Chainsmokers’ Andrew Taggart and Alex Paul for their record-breaking streams and plays, as Taggart expressed his “hope to do something a fraction as successful” as his fellow honorees. “How inspiring you all are,” he said. “We feel like infants in this industry, so to be a part of this event is really humbling.”
Electronic Arts president of music Steve Schnur — one of the evening’s co-chairs with Spirit Music Group chairman/ceo David Renzer, attorney Doug Davis and UMPG North America President Evan Lamberg — presented the “Electronic Arts Composer of The Century” honors to Oscar-winning film composer Hans Zimmer, fresh off his own first multi-city tour performing his work with a full orchestra and an Academy Award frontrunner for his score to Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.”
Asked how it feels to be a rock star, Zimmer deflected the praise to his fellow musicians – a quartet featuring cellist Tina Guo, keyboardist Steve Mazzaro and violinists Lea Zeger and Molly Rogers followed the presentation with a poolside performance.
About his just-completed 42,000-mile, multi-city tour which launched with a performance at Coachella, Zimmer told Variety, “My friends kicked me out of my studio and told me I had to eventually look the audience in the eye and stop hiding behind the screen. We had this insane idea to do Coachella, which is where we finally broke out of the pigeonhole of film music and became simply music. Somebody had to drag an orchestra and choir out to the desert. My whole point was to promote the musicians I’ve been working with all these years.”
Finally, longtime City of Hope supporter Zach Horowitz awarded the “Beverly and Ben Horowitz Legacy Award” in honor of his parents to Saul Priceman, a leading researcher in T Cell immunotherapy.
Among those on hand: Halle Berry, Recording Academy head Neil Portnow, CAA’s Rob Light, Big Deal Music Publishing’s Kenny MacPherson, AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis, Diane Warren, and Banksy cohort Mr. Brainwash. The event raised $400,000 in addition to a $1 million donation announced by Horowitz.