You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Songs of Hope’ Raises $400,000 for Cancer Research, Honors 2018’s Top Music Makers

SZA, Mike WILL Made It, Benny Blanco, Sarah Aarons, James Newton Howard and Steven Schwartz were feted at Alex Da Kid's KIDinaKORNER Kampus.

The 14th annual Songs of Hope gala, held for the second consecutive year in producer Alex Da Kid’s sprawling Sherman Oaks compound, raised a record-breaking total more than $400,000 for the City of Hope’s cancer research initiatives. The highlight was the presentation of “Songs of Hope Beverly and Ben Horowitz Legacy Award” to leading specialist Dr. Stephen J. Forman from longtime advocates Zach Horowitz and sister Jody Horowitz-Marsh, in honor of their late parents.

“This is a charity that recognizes the work of songwriters,” said Sony/ATV Music Publishing CEO/Chairman Marty Bandier, who would later present his “Vanguard” Award to Sony/ATV client Sarah Aarons, the diminutive Aussie who co-wrote one of the year’s biggest hits, “The Middle” by Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey.

“This is pretty different for me, it’s everything I’ve tried to avoid as a songwriter,” admitted the soft-spoken Aarons, whose inspiration was fellow Down Under songwriter Sia. “I still can’t believe I’m in America, let alone at an event like this. I keep asking myself, how am I here and how is this happening?”

Venerable Clive Davis, introduced by board co-chair, Universal Music Publising Group N.A. President Evan Lamberg as “the greatest music man of all time,” was particularly moved by the occasion, having recently attended the funeral of Aretha Franklin, herself a victim of pancreatic cancer.

“It’s heartwarming to see a larger turnout every year,” he said during a red-carpet conversation. “Learning more about what the City of Hope has been doing and the ferocity of their commitment never gets old.  It’s very humbling to be a part of.”

Davis handed out his “Legend in Songwriting” Award to a pair of recipients in Mike WILL Made It (Michael Len Williams III) and Benny Blanco, both of whom brought their beaming moms to help them celebrate.

“It’s just dope to be in the same room with so many successful, talented, hard-working people,” said Mike WILL, who recently co-produced a pair of tracks for Eminem’s chart-topping “Kamikaze” album, including the controversial Justin Vernon collaboration, “Fall.” “The City of Hope means a great deal to me because I lost my grandmother to cancer. To be honored like this, it’s like she’s watching down over me.”

A dressed-down Benny Blanco was similarly moved by the honor presented to him by Davis. “He’s the big dog, numero uno,” he noted. “Every day, I wake up and think they must have me mixed up with some other guy, that they’re going to find out about me. At the end of the day, I’m just a nervous Jew, but I’m so honored to be here and get this award.”

Universal Music Publishing Group Global Chairman/CEO Jody Gerson presented the first-ever “She Is the Music” Award to SZA, dedicated to “inclusivity and equality,” with a nod to Alicia Keys, one of the founders of the new initiative.

SZA embodies the spirit of the female luminaries who are breaking glass ceilings,” said Gerson in presenting the award.

Jody Gerson and SZA
CREDIT: Lester Cohen/Courtesy City of Hope

“I’m pretty shy,” insisted SZA, “Jody makes me sound way cooler than I am.  I’m just a small-town girl with black and female experiences, part of an energetic thread.  Cancer has struck in all parts of my life, high and low.”

Without mentioning the subsequent announcement of Jon Platt – who will be the City of Hope’s ‘Spirit of Life” honoree at their October 11 dinner — leaving Warner/Chappell Music Publishing, recently named Chief Operating Officer Carianne Marshall and Senior Vice President Theatrical and Catalog Kurt Deutsch presented their “Songs of Hope” Award to legendary Broadway composer Steven Schwartz, the man behind “Pippen,” “Godspell” and “Wicked.” Deutsch gave a touching speech about growing up as a “Broadway geek” in St. Louis, recalling that his bar mitzvah speech quoted from “Corner of the Sky,” one of Schwartz’s songs in “Pippen.”  He ended it with another verse from “Beautiful City,” referencing today’s political turmoil, a song from the film version of “Godspell.”

Fellow Co-Chairman, Electronic Arts President of Music Steve Schnur presented the “Composer of the Year” award to legendary film soundtrack maestro James Newton Howard, who quipped that he was “40 years older than the rest of the honorees.”

In addition to Lamberg (pictured below, at microphone) and Schnur, other event Co-Chairs included Spirit Music Group Chairman/CEO David Renzer (below, at left) and The Davis Firm Founder/Principal Doug Davis, Clive’s son (second from left)

CREDIT: Lester Cohen/City of Hope

More Music

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Accusers Detail Abuse, Reveal Evidence on 'Dateline'

    The continuing controversy surrounding R. Kelly, including allegations of sexual abuse by a number of women over three decades, was the focus of Friday’s episode of “Dateline.” Speaking to accusers Sparkle, Jerhonda Pace and parents Tim and Jonjelyn Savage, among others, NBC’s Andrea Canning heard more harrowing tales of abduction and sexual misconduct on the part [...]

  • Huey Lewis

    BMG Signs Huey Lewis and the News

    Huey Lewis and the News, the band that soundtracked much of the 1980s, will return with a new album in 2019. The group has signed with BMG, the company announced today (Jan. 18), setting the stage for the tenth studio album and the first time they’re releasing original music in 18 years. Formed by Lewis [...]

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • mike-posner

    Album Review: Mike Posner's 'A Real Good Kid'

    From the tone of such hits as his 2010 debut “Cooler Than Me” and 2015’s  “I Took A Pill In Ibiza,” singing, songwriting pop-hop beardo Mike Posner had a seemingly breezy take on life, love and responsibility. If you could have squeezed together the two Justins — Timberlake and Bieber (Posner has written for the latter) [...]

  • neyla pekarek

    Neyla Pekarek on Leaving the Lumineers and Her 'Women-Empowering' Solo Debut

    “I feel really liberated to be releasing my own record and my own music,” says cellist and singer Neyla Pekarek, who, in October, announced her departure from folk band the Lumineers. Now signed to S-Curve Records as a solo artist, her debut album “Rattlesnake” drops Friday. “I would definitely call this record a feminist record, a [...]

  • Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most

    Fyre Festival Documentaries: The 10 Most Outrageous Moments

    It is perhaps only fitting that two documentaries about the disastrous Fyre Festival, one of the most high-profile fraudulent failures in history, would arrive during the same week — a fitting cap on a tragicomedy of errors that, as both films outline in excruciating detail, unfolded like a slow-motion plane crash in the spring of [...]

  • Oscars Predictions 2018 Illustration

    Academy Awards: Final Oscar Predictions in All Categories

    Nominations for the 91st Academy Awards will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 22. Below are In Contention’s final predictions in all 24 categories. Bradley Cooper’s “A Star Is Born” and Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” lead the way with 10 expected nominations apiece, while we forecast eight for Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Favourite” and seven each for Damien [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content