Julius Collins is music director of Friday night's concert and co-wrote the new song "Never Give Up," the centerpiece of a new benefit album. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.
As Twin Cities actor and entertainer T. Mychael Rambo watched successive hurricanes devastate Houston, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, he responded the way many Americans did.
“What can I do to help?” he asked himself.
A charismatic singer who has performed at the Ordway, the Orpheum and the Guthrie, among others, Rambo tossed around ideas with a friend before deciding to deploy his talents and connections.
On Friday, Rambo will co-host a Twin Cities all-star concert at St. Paul’s Fitzgerald Theater, an event that also will double as the release party for a hurricane relief album that he and others have put together. Both efforts are called "Minnesota Voices United."
“We needed to do something before everyone forgot about the suffering that people are still enduring and before they had exhausted their reservoir of sympathy,” he said. “The news comes at you at a relentless pace these days.”
Both the concert and the album represent a broad swath of Twin Cities talent. The concert roster includes Grammy-winning belter Jamecia Bennett of the Sounds of Blackness, rockers Tina and the B Side Movement, soul maven PaviElle French, theater artists Dennis Spears, Erin Schwab and Thomasina Petrus as well as rapper Maria Isa, who is of Puerto Rican background.
The concert slate also includes singer Kat Perkins, who shot to fame on "The Voice," country artist Chris Hawkey, blues-rock singer Shannon Curfman and songwriter-guitarist Alex Rossi. Nearly all of the performers are also on the album, which also has music by Keri Noble, the Suburbs, the Steeles, Adam Levy & the Honeydogs and Greazy Meal, among others.
The theme song of the evening could be “Never Give Up,” written by music director Julius Collins, former Prince keyboardist Tommy Barbarella and producer/Greazy Meal guitarist John Fields. It will be performed at the Fitz.
“We wanted a big-hearted gesture to show that we care, that the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and Houston, who are in situations of heightened disadvantage and disaster, can take heart,” said Rambo. He added that he’s secured sponsors to cover the costs of venue rental and other expenses: All of the proceeds will go to Americares, the nonprofit relief organization, he said.
The goal is to raise $50,000, said Rambo, who will co-host with Twin Cities Public Television host Mary LaHammer.
“This is Minnesota and we’re in a season of giving,” he said. “People care and they can come out to have a good time.”
(7:30 p.m. Fri., Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul. $22.50-$62.50. 651-290-1200.)