2007 All for the Hall New York

October 10, 2007
With an exclusive audience of actors, artists, musicians and business leaders listening, cheering and socializing at a star-studded after-party, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum’s inaugural All for the Hall New York fundraiser at the Nokia Theatre Times Square (October 10, 2007) was deemed by all involved an overwhelming success-financially and creatively.

“We had high hopes for the event, and it topped all expectations,” said Museum Director Kyle Young.  “We reached out to New York, to let them know about our great Museum and the special work we do in preserving musical and cultural history, and they embraced us with love and enthusiasm.”

Hosted by actor-director Ethan Hawke, the music ranged from Country Music Hall of Fame member-elect Vince Gill singing a touching tribute to his father to hot country newcomer Taylor Swift introducing a song about having her heart broken at age 15. Staged as an old-fashioned Nashville “guitar pull”-artists and songwriters sharing songs backed with an acoustic guitar-the concert featured Patty Griffin, Jewel, John Rich, and Trisha Yearwood lined up with Gill in a row of straight chairs across the Nokia stage. In addition to Swift, guests who joined the five artists onstage included Shawn Colvin and Raul Malo.

Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Anderson, called out of the audience without warning by Gill, sang “Give It Away,” a recent #1 hit for George Strait that Anderson co-wrote. The veteran singer-songwriter received a rousing standing ovation for his impromptu performance.  Current CMA Musician of the Year nominee Randy Scruggs also performed, opening with an acoustic guitar performance of his Grammy Award-winning “Amazing Grace,” and playing guitar again as all of the evening’s performers joined together for a closing serenade, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”

All for the Hall New York drew a strong representation of nationally known artists, athletes and business leaders. Among those in attendance were actors Griffin Dunne, Gina Gershon and Greg Kinnear; Tony Award-winning producer Dasha Epstein; award-winning filmmaker Andrew Jarecki; champion bull rider Ty Murray; legendary songwriters and performers Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson; rocker Jon Bon Jovi; singer Heidi Newfield; singer-songwriter and actress Alana Grace; lifestyle expert Moll Anderson; and hot comedian and TV star Jeff Ross.

Nancy Jarecki, owner of bettybeauty inc. and self-proclaimed country music ambassador of New York, co-chaired the event with AEG Live Chairman Tim Leiweke. Among the business leaders dining and listening to the songs were Academy of Country Music Executive Director Bob Romeo; AEG Live Senior Vice President for National Booking Larry Vallon; American Airlines Executive Vice President Joann Camuti; Anderson News President and CEO Charlie Anderson; BMI President and CEO Del Bryant; Big Machine Records CEO Scott Borchetta; Borghese President and CEO Georgette Mosbacher; Cosmo Girl Editor-in-Chief Susan Schulz; Country Music Association COO Tammy Genovese; ESPN Operations Manager Ken Boudreau; the Food Network’s Suzanne Cornelius; Ford Motor Co. Vice President Al Giombetti; Fortress Investments President Michael Novogratz; Gaylord Entertainment Chairman and CEO Colin Reed; international law firm Greenberg Traurig partner David Greenberg; accounting firm Haber Corporation’s founder and principal Gary Haber; gallery owner Michael Haber; Hard Rock International Director of Marketing Annie Balliro; Hearst Magazines Editorial Director Ellen Levine; Leverage Group Vice President Randy Penn; Loeb & Loeb Partner and Co-Chairman John Frankenheimer; Merrill Lynch’s Scott Swift; People magazine Associate Publisher Susan Parkes; Premiere Radio Executive Vice President Julie Talbott; Random House Editor Pam Krauss; Red Light Management’s Will Botwin; philanthropist Sylvia Roberts; Robin Hood Foundation Executive Director David Saltzman; Sirius Satellite Radio’s Al Skop; SunTrust Bank Managing Director Thomas Carroll; Vector Management Partner Jack Rovner; Connecticut-based accounting firm Vogel & Company President George Vogel; Westwood One Senior Director of Artist Relations Pam Green; the William Morris Agency’s Rick Shipp; and Zenith Optimedia Senior Vice President Robin Rifkin.

The evening was filled with passionate music-and equally passionate stories about the power of country music and its cultural importance to America and the world. ‘I’m so happy to bring a guitar pull to New York City,” said Jarecki. “I’m glad to be able to bring a little bit of Nashville to New York.” Jarecki later added, “Anybody from New York, I urge you to go see the Museum, it’s really amazing. You’ll see things you didn’t know about it, and you start to realize there’s not that much difference between the interests you have and what the museum has to offer.”

Nine months in planning, the evening’s three-hour concert was co-produced by CAA’s Rod Essig and Vector Management’s Ken Levitan. “It was an amazing, historic night for our museum, but more than that, it was also an important night for us and for country music,” Young said. “We found we have some great friends and supporters in New York, and they walked away knowing more about the work we do. We plan to use these relationships as a foundation to build more national support and to continue to show people how special our Museum is and how special the country music community is.”

In addition to Essig and Levitan, Museum board members in attendance included David Conrad; Gill, who is president of the Museum’s Board of Officers and Trustees; Giombetti; John Grady; Steve Turner; Chairman E.W. “Bud” Wendell; trustee emeritus Janice Wendell; Jody Williams; Yearwood; and ex-officio member Genovese.  

In the end, the New York event will rank as one of the biggest moneymaking events in the history of the Museum. The donations will support the preservation of the Museum’s unduplicated collection, which is considered the finest of its kind in the world, as well as the educational organization’s effort to make the collection available to the largest possible audience through exhibits, school and family programs, books, and recordings.

“This is a red-letter day in our 40-year history,” Young said. “Walking past the Nokia Theatre marquee, it really felt like time travel into the future. The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum belongs to a national and international community of museums that collectively safeguard our nation’s memory and the world’s heritage. Over four decades, we’ve come a long, long way. Now, tonight, here are a lot of old friends and many generous new friends, friends who are stepping up to help us preserve the evolving history and traditions of country music.

“In doing so,” he said, “you are helping us to save our national memories, precious memories that we have in common with one another, memories that are imbedded within the songs and the stories that constitute country music history.”      

An auction hosted by Jarecki, artist Greta Gaines and music industry executives Anastasia Brown and Laura Stroud raised $117,000, including a $65,000 bid for a 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT. Other donated items auctioned for the fundraiser included a weekend at a private island resort, a meeting with and signed Gibson guitar from famed instrumental pioneer Les Paul; a songwriters cruise and a Lynyrd Skynyrd cruise; and tickets with special arrangements for a Bon Jovi concert, the ACM Awards, the CMA Awards and the CMT Giants special in Los Angeles honoring Hank Williams Jr.   

The gala was part of an ongoing outreach program, All for the Hall, the Museum’s first non-bricks-and-mortar fundraising campaign.  Launched in 2005, the campaign addresses the Museum’s need for long-term financial security and will provide a safety net for the institution and its work.  Gill leads the All for the Hall effort in the artist community.

As usual, the guitar pull combined emotionally touching songs with upbeat celebrations of life, and plenty of off-the-cuff stories and humor. Yearwood told of how she found her first hit, “She’s in Love with the Boy,” and that after performing it in a Nashville nightclub, producer and record executive Tony Brown (who attended the New York event) came up to her and said, “Let’s make a record.”

Song topics ran the gamut, from Gill introducing a new song about child abuse and loss of innocence to Rich premiering one about drinking whiskey. Rich also spoke of meeting Quincy Jones and talking to him about coming to Nashville to produce a big-band album of original country swing songs.

The storytelling covered a similar wide range. Colvin spoke of being of a generation of women who waited until later in life to have children and how becoming a mother changed her life. “I kind of like being dug in,” she said. Seventeen-year-old Swift, calling the event “the coolest thing ever,” told of how she loved the Museum “because a lot of life milestones have happened for me there.” She signed her recording contract with Big Machine Records at the Museum, and she received her first traffic ticket in front of the building. “It was not my fault by the way,” she said. “It was completely unfair.”

All for the Hall New York is the Museum’s first attempt at creating an annual fundraising event outside the Nashville area. “Our story is simple,” Young said.  “But our challenge here and in New York is facilitating understanding of the important collection, research and scholarship that are the essence of our great music Museum.” 

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum’s mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture.  With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum’s Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B, and Hatch Show Print.