Thursday, January 11, 2007

Little Richard Steps In


ENCINO, Calif. (Jan. 8, 2007)--Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Little Richard will replace James Brown as a featured performer February 1 at the WSA Show Opening Night gala. The evening, a benefit, will pay tribute to the venerable "Godfather of Soul," who died this past Christmas at the age of 73.

"With the untimely and sudden passing of James Brown, we sought to add a performer who epitomizes the roots of rock 'n' roll," said Diane Stone, chief operating officer of WSA Global Holdings, LLC. "Little Richard is the perfect choice."

The original concert lineup of "The Legends of Rock 'n' Roll" remains otherwise intact. Jerry Lee Lewis, Mary Wilson, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Booker T. and the MG's will join Little Richard in the exclusive performance, which benefits charitable organizations Soles4Soles, Inc. and the Two Ten Footwear Foundation. "It is unheard of for a slate of performers like this to appear anywhere," Stone said.

Brown's sudden death, due to complications from pneumonia, left concert organizer Soles4Souls, Inc. less than a month to find a musician fit to fill Brown's shoes.

"We're very excited that Little Richard will step in and do a tribute concert with us," said Chris Carmichael, spokesman for Soles4Souls, Inc., a prominent footwear charity. "He's a legend in his own right. Anytime we can have performers from the Hall of Fame is great--especially with such short notice."

In Brown's honor, Soles4Souls has pledged to donate 100,000 pairs of shoes to the needy throughout Africa this year. This is in addition to current donation pledges the Nashville-based charity has already made to the region.

"We were initially very excited to have the Godfather of Soul to represent Soles4Souls," Carmichael said. "We had a friendship with James Brown, not just a business relationship. We want James Brown's mission to live on and Little Richard is going to help us with that."

Little Richard seems a fitting replacement for Brown, as both had a large influence on each other's musical careers. Brown once credited Little Richard as his idol for "first putting the funk in the rock 'n' roll beat." Like Brown, Little Richard is known for his explosive on-stage energy and soulful lyrics. On Brown's passing, Little Richard told MSNBC, "He was an innovator, he was an emancipator, he was an originator. Rap music, all that stuff came from James Brown." Concert tickets are still available at $70 each, which includes a dinner and cocktail reception before the show, to be held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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