by | Dec 11, 1994 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Barry Sanders cleared his throat and spoke into the microphone. “Hi, this is Barry Sanders. On behalf of my teammates . . .”

He stopped, checked himself, started again. “Hi, this is Barry Sanders .
. .”

Joe Dumars held the mike and talked about basketball. “It changed my life. Thank you for helping the children in Detroit change theirs. . . .”

He stopped, bit his lip. “I can do better,” he said, and started over.

Cecil Fielder came to the studio to record his message. Began by saying,
“Hi, this is Big Daddy . . .” Steve Yzerman came in, too, putting on the headphones and stating his case. Rich men, under 35, doing something out of generosity, good spirit.

The editors of this section asked if I could contribute to today’s report on baby boomers. I had hoped to use the column to make my annual pitch to support the Dream Fund.

So it seemed I would need to choose. One column or the other. But wait.

We baby boomers love excess: cellular phones, cable TV channels, political correctness.

We have also blown the lid off of generosity. Ours is the generation that gave you Live Aid, Farm Aid, Comic Relief and “We Are The World.”

When it comes to good causes, baby boomers know how to throw a party.

Take this number: 1-800-715-XMAS. Musicians do their part

Now, it is true, sometimes those charity blowouts celebrate the giver more than the receiver. But not always. Two years ago, I was asked to write a song for “Christmas in Detroit,” a new CD/cassette. That gathered a dozen Detroit artists together to record a Christmas song, either old or original.

I was amazed. Rock, jazz, country and rhythm and blues musicians spent days, free of charge, recording and mixing tracks for a final product that many music critics rated better than most Christmas-themed collections. Proceeds went to charity. You could feel the warmth through the shrink-wrap.

Now, two years later, it’s been done again, bigger and better.
“Christmas in Detroit, Too” features 14 artists or groups, ranging from Mitch Ryder and the Garfield Blues Band doing a rollicking “Hey, Hey, Santa” to the Sun Messengers, Skeleton Crew, Clinton River Band, Detroit Blues Band, and the Howling Diablos on a thumping original, “Christmas in Jail.”

Did I mention the number? 1-800-715-XMAS.

Me? Well, having once made my living in an oldies band, I decided, this time, to write a doo-wop Christmas song, one that invoked the spirit of the
’50s. I planned to get modern singers to doo-wop behind Detroit songstress Janine Sabino, who happens to be the best singer I know.

Instead, I was told about the Larados, a real ’50s doo-wop group that went from snapping fingers on Detroit street corners to a big hit, “(Just Like) Romeo and Juliet.” Turns out they still live and work here.

I called. They came down, still wearing their satin jackets, still arguing, still smoking, still harmonizing as sweetly as Brooklyn teenagers.

They spent all day and all night in PR Studios, as did Janine and the fellows from D.C. Drive, who own and run the place. And while all these people normally command a nice price for their talent, no one took a cent.

Here’s a number. 1-800-715-XMAS. Scholarships offer hope

Now, the message of this project is music; the purpose is the Dream Fund. Once a year — and only once — I ask for your help, usually, with a charity roast.

This time it’s the CD/cassette. Here’s why it’s worthwhile. All money raised becomes scholarships for needy kids to study the arts at the prestigious Center for Creative Studies. It’s an alternative to the boredom and bullets that are killing our brightest young hopes.

There is a 15-year-old singer on “Christmas In Detroit, Too.” His name is Nikung. He is the type of kid the Dream Fund helps. Tough life, mean streets
— but with a voice that could make a gunman weep.

His dream is to be a pro singer. This gave him a start. So he has something many of our kids do not — a goal when he goes to bed. One day, we hope to fill “Christmas in Detroit #10” with quality adults who hatched in the Dream Fund. Meanwhile, we need your help. It’s a wonderful holiday gift: CDs only $13.98, cassettes $8.98. Sanders, Dumars, Yzerman, Fielder, Ernie Harwell, Mayor Archer and others are on the CD as well, with special messages. So is a wonderful song about urban hope, sung by gospel star Toni Booker. The chorus goes:

Come on home, don’t you know,

It’s Christmas?

This is your home. Please help it.

1-800-715-XMAS. Delivered before Christmas. Operators are there now, working, yes, on Sunday morning.

Hmm. Sound like baby boomers to me.


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