October's City of Hope and TJ Martell Events See Fundraising Climb As Music Industry Booms

Jeffrey Harleston and Mary J. Blige
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Harleston (right) with Blige in New York.

On Oct. 11 in Santa Monica, Calif., City of Hope honored outgoing Warner/Chappell Music chairman/CEO Jon Platt with its Spirit of Life Award. With help from Beyoncé, who performed, and Jay-Z, who presented Platt with his award, the evening raised $6.1 million for the world-renowned Duarte, Calif.-based research and treatment center for cancer, diabetes and other life-threatening diseases.

Four days later, on Oct. 15, the T.J. Martell Foundation saluted Jeffrey Harleston in New York as Mary J. Blige feted the general counsel/executive vp business and legal affairs for Universal Music Group worldwide. The foundation, which funds medical research focused on finding cures for cancer, raised $2 million that night.

For over 40 years, the music industry has thrown its support and dollars behind the two organizations through their annual galas and a slew of other fundraisers held throughout the year, including poker tournaments and bowling parties meant to attract young philanthropists.

Since its 1973 founding, City of Hope's Music, Film and Entertainment Industry group -- which is chaired by Evan Lamberg, president of Universal Music Publishing Group in North America -- has raised over $124 million. The T.J. Martell Foundation, which formed in 1975 after the death of record executive Tony Martell's teenage son, is nearing $300 million.

"The music industry is very charitable," says attorney Joel Katz, who was named chairman of the foundation after the 2016 death of longtime client Martell.

In the years immediately preceding Martell's death, the foundation had grown "stagnant," says CEO Laura Heatherly, who credits Katz with revitalizing the organization. "I called a lot of friends, and they came on the board," says Katz. "All of a sudden, we had the industry back."

The music business' financial resurgence has also benefited both the Martell foundation and City of Hope. Through the industry's 15-year downturn, City of Hope vice president Sharon Joyce says, the organization relied on "tenacity" and its connections to the entertainment business "to move forward through the tough times and to deepen our relationships." While the foundation is music-based, City of Hope draws from 15 industries for its fundraising.

The two organizations admit that, on rare occasions, they chase the same executives, but otherwise work "side by side," says Joyce. The Martell foundation funds research at City of Hope, and "we're very proud of that," says Heatherly. "We love what they do. When it comes to fighting cancer, the more the merrier."