The City of Hope hosted the last of three breakfasts on Tuesday morning (June 25) to kick off its 2019 fundraising campaign on behalf of this year’s Spirit of Life Award honoree, Epic Records chairman/CEO Sylvia Rhone. The organization’s annual gala dinner will take place Oct. 10 at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rhone is the first African-American woman to be presented with the Spirit of Life Award. During her speech, she talked about the importance of inclusion in helping the City of Hope wage its ongoing fight to cure and ultimately prevent cancer and diabetes. She also issued a friendly industry challenge.
“I knew little about the purpose of the City of Hope back in 1974 when I started in the business as a secretary at Buddah Records,” Rhone said. “But I was always in awe of the evening and the legendary men that they honored. I now understand and am committed to the City of Hope’s purpose. I’m extremely proud and honored to come full-circle as the first black woman to be an honoree.”
Rhone continued, “Now it’s my time, it’s our time, to take on this tremendous responsibility to help the future well-being of people. The power is in this room to change the outcome of diseases like cancer. So please help us in making this a banner year. Big Jon [Sony/ATV chairman/CEO Jon Platt, last year’s Spirit of Hope honoree] is my brother, but I want to be Jon. I want to be [12 Tone Music Group founder and former Spirit honoree] Doug Morris, who raised $10 million. There’s a whole group of faces here that have never sat in this room. Now we’re in the house. And when you’re in the house, you have a responsibility. Let’s do it.”
Motown president Ethiopia Habtemariam introduced Rhone, noting that their paths first crossed when Habtemariam was a young intern at Elektra when Rhone helmed the company as chairman/CEO. “Sylvia has walked the walk,” Habtemariam said. “She’s a woman, a black woman, that has been passionate about music, artists and always helping executives along their journeys. Thank you [Sylvia] for walking in grace, thank you for always holding your power. We honor, love and respect you and will continue to show up for you.”
Co-chairs for the forthcoming City of Hope gala are Sony Music Entertainment CEO Rob Stringer, Sony/ATV’s Platt, The Azoff Company chairman/CEO Irving Azoff and LaPolt Law founder/owner Dina LaPolt.
Among the industry executives in attendance at the LA breakfast were Capitol Music Group COO Michelle Jubilerer, attorney Don Passman, industry pioneer Clarence Avant, Maverick president Greg Thompson, veteran industry executive Phil Quartararo, BMI VP of worldwide creative Barbara Cane, Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow, Myman Greenspan Fineman Fox Rosenberg & Light founder/partner/head of the music department Eric Greenspan and partner Aaron Rosenberg, Warner Chappell Music president, A&R, U.S. Ryan Press, Universal Music Group general counsel/executive vp business and legal affairs Jeffrey Harleston, SOCAN senior A&R executive Erica Grayson, Motown GM Marc Byers, Epic executive VP of A&R Ezekiel Lewis, Columbia co-heads of urban music Phylicia Fant and Shawn Holiday and Friends At Work founder/CEO Ty Stiklorius.
Universal Music Publishing president, North America Evan Lamberg, who also serves as president of City of Hope’s Music, Film and Entertainment Industry Group executive board, opened the proceedings. Before introducing speaker Dr. Loretta Erhunmwunsee — who spoke about health equity and health justice — Lamberg remarked that the LA kick-off breakfast was a record-breaker in regards to attendance. The City of Hope’s two preceding breakfasts took place earlier this month in New York City (June 14) and Atlanta (June 17).