May 5, 2018 will mark our 25th annual event, which includes an extended cocktail hour, delicious dinner, awards, fireworks and much more. For best seating purchase tickets early HERE!
For 2017 we were thrilled to present Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. The ultimate Motown Diva, Martha’s hits include Heat Wave, Dancing In The Street, Jimmy Mack, and Nowhere To Run.
Stay tuned for an exciting announcement regarding our entertainment for this very special 25th anniversary gala. We encourage friends of AAP – Food Samaritans to join our Jeannette Rockefeller Angel Program in support of our efforts, and enjoy the recognition and benefits offered.
Tickets are now available for purchase online! General Seating $395; Preferred Seating - $500.
For tables and other ticket levels, please contact us at (760) 325-8481
In the past years, 'Evening Under the Stars' has featured the talents of Nell Carter, Tyne Daly, Melissa Manchester, Jane Oliver, Lorna Luft, Suzanne Somers, Bea Arthur and our 10th anniversary spectacular highlighted Barry Manilow and his orchestra. Ms. Nancy Wilson headlined our 2004 gala with the Las Vegas Rat Pack & the Dry Martini Orchestra as our opening. 2005 showcased the legendary talents of Ms. Lily Tomlin, 2006 saw a return of Barry Manilow with his new Las Vegas Review, 2007 and 2009 showcased the legendary talents of Mary Wilson of the Supremes, and 2008 presented Pink Martini. Our 2010 event featured the music of ABBA performed by ARRIVAL (direct from Sweden) and featured some of ABBA's original musicians. Our 2011 event featured the B-52's, and the house rocked in 2012 with The Go-Go's! For 2013, the remarkable Cyndi Lauper helped us celebrate the 20th Evening Under the Stars. In 2014 we made history with The First Ladies of Disco: Alfa Anderson, Linda Clifford, Norma Jean, France Joli, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Luci Martin, Charlene Moore, Maxine Nightingale, Pamala Stanley, Jeanie Tracy, Anita Ward, and Martha Wash, while our 2015 event presented the phenomenal Darlene Love! The 2016 event featured the world-famous Village People and 2017 was Martha Reeves and the Vandellas!
About Martha Reeves & the Vandellas
Hits: Heat Wave, Dancing In The Street, Jimmy Mack, and Nowhere To Run
Martha Reeves is The Ultimate Motown Diva
It’s been more than 50 years since Martha Reeves first boarded that rented bus along with the likes of The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Supremes, and Marvin Gaye on the first Motown Review. She and her backup group, the Vandellas, sang behind Marvin and soon hit the charts with their own trifecta: “Come and Get These Memories,” “Love is Like a Heat Wave,” and “Quicksand.” Over the next decade, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas would be a constant presence on the music charts, as well as on television and top venues across the US and abroad.
With the unmistakable voice that helped define “the sound of young America,” Reeves reigns today as one of music’s most beloved and acclaimed female singers. On stage, she is a live wire: dancing, strutting, keeping the beat with her trusty tambourine and keeping audiences on their feet as they dance down Memory Lane. Whether performing solo or with the Vandellas, Martha Reeves continues to heat up clubs, concert stages and music festivals, thrilling audiences across the globe, and always leaving them dancing. In 2012, she returned to the Billboard charts with her Top 25 hit, “I’m Not Leaving,” recorded with techno DJ duo The Crystal Method, and returned to the Howard Theatre – site of the very first Motown Revue show – for its grand re-opening. She capped 2013 with a 13-city sold-out solo tour of the UK. Her 2014 “Calling Out Around the World Tour,” commemorated the 50th anniversary of the release of “Dancing in the Street.” In 2017, she celebrates 50 years of calling for “Jimmy Mack” to come back.
Reeves’ hits are the thing of legend: In addition to the aforementioned, they include the gospel-tinged “Nowhere to Run,” the classic soul favorite “My Baby Loves Me,” the pop anthem “Jimmy Mack,” and her signature, “Dancing In The Street.” While best known for up-tempo, hard driving tunes, Reeves’ shows are often highlighted by jazzy renderings of Billie Holiday’s “God Bless The Child,” her driving original blues “Watch Your Back” (both included in her self-produced CD “Home to You”), and the perennial showstopper, “Love Makes Me Do Foolish Things.”
Martha’s story is a familiar one to legions of fans. Soon after graduating from high school, she performed in clubs as “Martha Lavaille.” One night, Motown A&R director Mickey Stevenson heard her and invited her to audition for the then-fledgling label. The highly-motivated Reeves arrived the next morning. Upon learning that auditions had to be scheduled, she made herself valuable by answering phones and taking messages. When people say she started at Motown as a secretary, Reeves corrects them, laughing, “I was never a secretary. I was a singer who could type.”
Reeves soon become an invaluable administrator, interacting with musicians and performers, scheduling sessions, and making sure that business was taken care of. And she waited her turn to sing. One day, when Mary Wells missed a session, Martha stepped up to the mic and got noticed and a contract. She left the A/R department to become one of Motown’s most enduring and beloved stars.
As classics never fade, new and diverse audiences are constantly being introduced to the Martha Reeves songbook.
She has counted talents as diverse as James Brown and Beverly Sills among her singing partners. Robin Williams spun “Nowhere to Run” in Good Morning, Vietnam. Her version of the Van Morrison rocker, “Wild Night” was featured on the Thelma and Louise movie soundtrack. The boys in The Boys In The Band and Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act 2 partied to “Heat Wave.” Everyone from Mick Jagger and David Bowie, the Mamas and the Papas, Dusty Springfield and the Grateful Dead have gone “Dancing In The Street.” Singers such as Adele, Amy Winehouse, Florence Welch, and Jennifer Hudson sing her praises. A few years ago, Will Smith and the producers of the movie Hitch mined Martha’s vault of unreleased recordings to find her sublime “It’s Easy (To Fall In Love With a Guy Like You).” Melanie Fiona sampled “Jimmy Mack” in her hit, “Please Don’t Go (Cry Baby).”
Moving beyond the confines of the concert stage, Reeves starred in a US tour of the Tony-winning “Ain’t Misbehavin,’” and has performed in road shows of “The Jackie Wilson Story” and “Good Black Don’t Crack.” She co-starred for three seasons in the UK stage review “Dancing In The Street,” alongside Motown peers like the late Edwin Starr, Mary Wilson, and Freda Payne. Following Starr’s death in 2003, Reeves held the spotlight alone. That same year, she made her opera debut singing with the Motor City Lyric Opera.
Reeves is the recipient of the Dinah Washington Award, a Rhythm n’ Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, a Black Woman in Publishing Legends Award, and has been inducted in the Alabama, Soul, Rock and Roll, and Vocal Group halls of fame. “Dancing in the Street” has been entered into the Library of Congress Registry of Historical Recordings and the Grammy Hall of Fame. Martha Reeves and the Vandellas are listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Immortal Artists” and Martha herself was named one of the “30 Top Lead Singers of all Time.”
From 2005-2009, Martha served on the Detroit City Council, as an advocate for the city’s seniors and fighting for the Motor City’s educational and economic future. She continues to be an international ambassador for Detroit, making sure that you “can’t forget the Motor City.”
Laurie Weitz has been part of the creative side of the arts and entertainment industry for many years. She and husband Larry have been together for more than 20 years and worked together as executive recruiters for 18 years under their corporation, Weitz and Associates. They enjoyed much success turning less-successful companies into robust and profitable ones under their leadership and business expertise. They began spending time in the Coachella Valley in 2009 and fell in love with the people and lifestyle the city of Palm Springs offers. Laurie is extremely involved in many Coachella Valley organizations. She has raised awareness and funds for AAP - Food Samaritans, Palm Springs Art Museum, Desert Cancer Foundation, Desert AIDS Project, the Palm Springs Animal Shelter and many others. She serves as a board member for Modernism Week and has been a longtime patron of the arts. She recently curated several cutting edge gallery shows, has produced a variety of trunk shows, and has donated her hand-crafted jewelry to be used for auctions. As a humanitarian and philanthropist, Laurie is fully committed to her vision that all Valley communities will begin to blend together to be a more integrated culture.
The Herb Lazenby Community Service Award was created to recognize an individuals outstanding commitment to service within their community. The award carries the name of its inaugural recipient, Dr. Herb Lazenby, whose name became synonymous with Community Service here in the Coachella Valley. Previous recipients include Lily Tomlin, Michael Childers, Brian Wanzek (aka Bella da Ball), Rabbi Sally Olins, Joyce Shampeny, John Williams, Richard DeSantis, and Cathy MacNaughton.
As the valley’s only not-for-profit hospital, Eisenhower Medical Center has provided high quality, compassionate care for more than 40 years through a full range of state-of-the-art diagnostic, treatment, and emergency facilities. Eisenhower is an accredited teaching hospital, with a School of Graduate Medical Education training new physicians in the specialties of family medicine and internal medicine.
Eisenhower Medical Center has locations across the Coachella Valley for convenient, quality health care. The main campus and hospital is located on 130 acres in Rancho Mirage. Eisenhower Medical Center is a dynamic, progressive health care complex comprised of a 463-bed hospital, the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences at Eisenhower, and the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center at Eisenhower in addition to its outpatient facilities in Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, and La Quinta. The Betty Ford Center is also located on the Eisenhower campus. Eisenhower not only offers the highest quality health care for residents and visitors, but additionally provides a broad range of educational programs for the public and for health care professionals.
One of the hallmarks of Eisenhower Medical Center’s reputation as a premier health care facility is the significant financial support provided by a broad base of generous donors. Philanthropy and volunteerism continue to play a major role in Eisenhower’s ability to fulfill its mission: "To serve the changing health care needs of our region by providing excellence in patient care with supportive education and research."
Dedicated in 1971, Eisenhower Medical Center is named in honor of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who lived part-time in the Coachella Valley during his retirement. Eisenhower Medical Center works closely with AAP to provide financial support and other services for its clients.
The Corporate Angel Award was created to recognize outstanding corporate partners that have supported AAP – Food Samaritans consistently and with an abundance of heart.
The inaugural awardee in 2016 was Walgreens
Dr. Timothy Jochen and Lee Erwin are great examples of giving back to the community they love. They are major contributors to more than 40 non-profit organizations in the Coachella Valley including AAP – Food Samaritans, which they have supported for more than thirteen years. Other charitable organizations they support include American Cancer Society, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Desert, Boys and Girls Clubs of Coachella Valley, Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert, Coachella Valley Rescue Mission, Coachella Valley Volunteers in Medicine, Desert AIDS Project, Desert Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club Desert Cities, Guide Dogs of Desert, Jewish Family Service of the Desert, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Palm Springs Women in Film & TV, Shelter from the Storm, The Living Desert, Well in the Desert, and many more. Dr. Jochen and Lee Erwin were recently honored as business visionaries and philanthropists with the 411th star on Palm Canyon Drive.
Dr. Jochen, a board certified dermatologist, founded Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center (now the largest dermatology practice in the Valley with offices in Rancho Mirage and Palm Springs). Dr. Jochen serves on the Board of Trustees at Palm Valley School and is an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He has been named “Teacher of the Year” several times and has been voted a Top Doctor by his peers in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Lee Erwin is the Executive Director of Contour Dermatology. A graduate of the University of Florida with a BS in Computer Engineering, Lee was a computer consultant before joining Contour Dermatology. He was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Jewish Family Service of the Desert. Dr. Jochen and Lee Erwin have lived in the Coachella Valley since 2001 and have a twelve-year-old daughter, Ashley, who attends Palm Valley School.
The Jeannette Rockefeller Humanitarian Award honors Jeannette Rockefeller, the founding president of AAP – Food Samaritans. The award was established in 1997 to honor the humanitarian efforts of outstanding community members and recognizes individuals who have lent their energy, commitment, and influence to raise awareness and funding for important issues including HIV/AIDS. Previous recipients include Earl Greenberg, R. D. & Joan Dale Hubbard, Michael Leppen, Tim Hanlon, Helene Galen, James Houston, Harold Matzner, Betty Francis, and Senator Barbara Boxer.
Gregg Selleck grew up in Los Angeles, and at the age of 22 moved to Palm Springs and started his construction company. Gregg was introduced to community service by Jeannette Rockefeller, the founding president of AAP – Food Samaritans and a legendary Coachella Valley philanthropist. At first Gregg helped the organization in small ways, including building the stage for the very first Evening Under the Stars – which took place in then Board President Blair Alexander’s back yard – in 1993. From those humble beginnings, he quickly went on to become a board member and has been a tireless volunteer ever since. His dedication to AAP – Food Samaritans became a passion, and in the months preceding Evening Under the Stars, Gregg’s focus would shift from working on his client’s homes to collecting items for the auction. Gregg remained active on the board for many years and in 2008 he was honored by Greater Palm Springs Pride as their ‘Man of the Year.’
The Gloria Greene Inspiration Award was founded under the concept that great movements often begin with one person’s simple inspiration – such as when Gloria Greene began handing out food to those with HIV/AIDS from the back door of one of her restaurants right here in Palm Springs. Since 1999, The Gloria Greene Inspiration Award has celebrated Gloria’s insight, commitment and passion, illustrating the difference that just one person can make in their community. Prior recipients include Barry Manilow, Bob Hoven, Ginger Carter, John Bowab, Barbara and Jerry Keller, Dr. John Stansell, Gloria Greer and Terri Ketover.
Robert Mason "Bob" Pollock was a cheerful, kind, witty man and a major philanthropist who donated to many Coachella Valley nonprofits including AAP- Food Samritans, ACT for MS, and the College of the Desert. Bob was a fervent and long-time supporter of AAP until his death in July 2016 at the age of 99. He was extremely influential in Hollywood for his many contributions, but is perhaps best known for his work as a screenwriter for the television show "Dynasty." Bob shared his life with his longtime wife Eileen, better known as "Mike," a nickname she earned from Bob because they met over radio microphones. They were a true love story. They met in New York while working on "My True Story," a radio drama. The couple then worked together on the television shows "Dynasty" and "The Colbys," and were awarded a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars in 1997. Mike died in December of 2012, just three weeks after she and Bob celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. One of the last things he said was, 'I'm almost 100 years old. I've lived an amazing life. I miss my wife and I just want to be in peace.'" AAP – Food Samaritans will forever honor this great man and philanthropist.
The Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award was created in 2011 to recognize and honor the critical contributions of AAP co-founder and Palm Springs resident and community activist Joanna Jakway. At the 2011 Evening Under the Stars, in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of AAP – Food Samaritans, the inaugural Joanna Jakway Community Hero Award was given to Jackie Lee and Jim Houston in honor of the countless lives they impact. Additional honorees include John Federbusch, Gary Frey, Steve Kaufer and Jane Wagner.
Our Gala Program is a beautifully designed full-color glossy magazine-style keepsake and offers those supporters and dedicated members of our community a chance to shine in a very public way. The program is distributed at our event to approximately 1,500 people. In addition to business promotion, it is also customary to purchase 'tribute' ads in recognition of the event's honorees.