All the WOO in the World: A Celebration of Bernie Worrell is being produced by the Black Rock Coalition and will feature confirmed appearances by George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Living Colour, Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads, Nona Hendryx, filmmaker Jonathan Demme, Meryl Streep, Rick Springfield, Bill Laswell, Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band, and the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra. The celebration will take place on April 4, 2016 at Webster Hall in New York City, and at the Stone Pony in Worrell’s native New Jersey on April 5, 2016.
The goal is to raise funds for Worrell’s health and living expenses as he fights Stage 4 lung cancer and prostate cancer. The effort is led by Nona Hendryx (founding member of Labelle and R&B Hall of Fame inductee), the Black Rock Coalition (a 30-year nonprofit arts support organization for which Worrell serves on the board of directors) and Sweet Relief (a medical-expense organization dedicated to veteran artists in need).
All the WOO in the World will honor Worrell’s contributions as one of the most influential keyboardists in modern popular culture, while simultaneously raising supplemental funds to cover costs created by his illness.
“Just about everything that you hear from keyboardists today has Bernie’s DNA on it,” says Earl Douglas, executive director of the New York Chapter of the Black Rock Coalition.” “This musical thank you is long overdue and should finally put Bernie Worrell’s musical legacy where it belongs—in the stratosphere with the other all-time greats. As far as I’m concerned, Bernie Worrell is on par with Duke Ellington, Art Tatum, Mozart and Beethoven.”
This sentiment is shared by Nona Hendryx, whose years on the road as an outspoken, politically-aware artist during the Civil Rights Movement and whose work with Artists Against Apartheid, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, and the BRC have shown her the power of community.
“I didn’t want the words of praise and appreciation for my friend ‘Ba-nard’ to be shared by his peers during a memorial, when he couldn’t hear or feel them,” says Hendryx. “My desire and intention is to celebrate Bernie and help him financially.”
Bernie Worrell was born April 19, 1944 in Long Branch, New Jersey. A musical prodigy, he began formal piano lessons by age 3 and wrote a concerto at age 8. Worrell then went on to study at Juilliard and the New England Conservatory of Music. As a keyboardist and composer, he is best known as a founding member of Parliament-Funkadelic—co-writing some of their biggest hits including “Flashlight,” “Up for the Downstroke” and “Mothership Connection,” among others.
In addition to his prolific solo career, Worrell became an in-demand live and studio musician, working with such esteemed artists as Talking Heads, Jonathan Demme, Bill Laswell, Keith Richards, the Pretenders, Jack Bruce, the CBS Orchestra with Paul Shaffer, Deee-Lite and Bootsy’s New Rubber Band.
Worrell has also been among the most sampled musicians ever. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Digital Underground, De La Soul, DMX and countless others have acknowledged his timeless grooves by building tunes around his signature riffs. In 1997, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with other members of Parliament-Funkadelic.
Worrell’s impact is evident in the fact that so many high-caliber artists have agreed to drop everything to be there with and for Bernie to help raise money for his fight against cancer. Perhaps it’s because Bernie himself has always had a selfless stance toward creating music. “I don’t like the whole spotlight. I like to play with people because it’s about sharing and listening and creating that way. We play off each other. It’s not just all about me. That’s what makes it so beautiful.”
The events will feature one-of-a-kind collaborations, special performances, rare appearances, and a whole lot of the amazing music that Worrell has created, touched, or inspired in his 50+ year career. Newark mayor Ras Baraka will also give a proclamation to Worrell in recognition of his contributions as a shining son of New Jersey.
Artists will be donating their time, so all proceeds will go directly towards Worrell’s care.
For more information, please contact Black Rock Coalition President, LaRonda Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org), Black Rock Coalition director of operations-NY, Darrell McNeill (BRC30@blackrockcoalition.org), Webster Hall or BlackRockCoalition.org.