Russ Titelman at Rockers on Broadway
Grammy-winning producer Russ Titelman (Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood) and Tony-winning (The Color Purple) actress LaChanze received the Life Achievement Award last night at the annual Rockers on Broadway benefit concert at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village.
Proceeds from the SRO event help fund charities including The PATH (Performing Artists That Help) Fund non-profit dedicated to supporting arts education and New York City’s arts community.
Best-known for his music producing, Titelman has also written songs with legends like Gerry Goffin, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and recorded by the likes of Linda Ronstadt, The Hollies, Lesley Gore and The Monkees. A big supporter of musical theater and Rockers on Broadway, he was saluted as “somebody who cares” by his friend Keith Carradine after performing his Oscar-winning hit “I’m Easy,” which he sang in the 1975 Robert Altman film Nashville.
Admittedly “overwhelmed,” Titelman acknowledged his rock ‘n’ roll career as songwriter, musician and producer, but noted that singing, “especially in musical theater, is the community that brings us together.” That community came out strong in joyously serenading him with a selection of his luminous productions including Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven,” Randy Newman’s “Sail Away,” James Taylor’s “Shower the People” and Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love.”
LaChanze was lovingly introduced by her daughter Celia Rose Gooding, now making her own Broadway debut in Jagged Little Pill. Advising aspiring performers, LaChanze said, “We already have a Beyonce. We want you! We want what you’re afraid to show!”
The house band and featured singers were outstanding and included 13-year-old Mehret Marsh, who plays young Anna Mae in Tina—The Tina Turner Musical and sang the Janis Joplin version of “Summertime.” Tamika Lawrence tore up the room with Heart’s “Barracuda” before Morgan James equaled her with Led Zepp’s “Whole Lotta Love.”
Besides Carradine, the special guests were Alexa Ray Joel, who sang father Billy’s “New York State of Mind” and was accompanied by his guitarist Tommy Byrnes; singer-songwriter Tommy Brunett, and Rupert Holmes, who sang his pop classic “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” after revealing a timely “Subpoena Colada” modification to the title.