Pittsburgh’s Next Generation of Music Legends will be hosting a benefit fund-raiser Oct. 31 titled “A Pittsburgh Tribute to Motown Records’ 50th Anniversary” at the August Wilson Cultural Center in Downtown Pittsburgh.


PNGML is a newly founded non-profit organization whose mission is to create educational and career opportunities for talented urban youth musicians to develop their skills under the guidance of professional musicians and music educators.


The benefit will feature some of Pittsburgh’s top musicians performing in concert Motown hits by such greats as Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, The Jackson Five, Stevie Wonder, The Marvelettes and lots more.

The event will feature a special guest, Katherine Anderson Schaffner, one of the original members of Motown’s super girl groups The Marvelettes with hits such as “Please Mr. Postman”, “Don’t Mess with Bill” and “The Hunter Gets Captured” by The Game.

A special tribute to Michael Jackson will be performed by Pittsburgh’s Next Generation of Music Legends’ group the Billy Eckstine Youth Vocal All Star Ensemble.

Additional guests include the Motown Funk Brothers’ bass player, Pittsburgh’s own Bob Babbitt.  Bob was one of the co-stars of the hit movie “Standing in the Shadow of Motown,” the story of the Funk Brothers Motown studio musicians.

Additional activities will consist of a celebrity VIP reception at Atria’s Restaurant at PNC Park hosted by Johnny Angel.  A rare Motown photo exhibition by Weldon A. McDougal III will be on display.  Weldon is the former Motown promotion guru who travelled extensively with Motown’s top artists on the road and is responsible for The Jackson Five being on the Motown record label by introducing them to Motown.   Weldon also will facilitate a lively forum about the history of Motown records along with other former Motown record alumni.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the national tour for PNGML’s two youth music ensembles the Billy Eckstine Youth Vocal All Star Ensemble and the Billy Strayhorn Youth Jazz All Star Ensemble.  Upcoming national music tours for the ensembles include a trip to the Monterey High School and College Jazz Festival in California and the House of Blues.

Instructors for both youth music ensembles will feature both national renowned and some of Western PA’s most respected music educators and music artists.

PNGML recently retained the service of one of America’s most respected musicians, Sean Jones as the senior music consultant who will be responsible for the music curriculum. Sean is the lead trumpeter for the jazz great Wynton Marsalis, a music professor at Duquesne University and a recording artist.

Collaboration partners of PNGML include: 1) the Educational Department of the New August Wilson Cultural Center where all the master classes will take place and 2) a unique outreach program with Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass., that is regarded as one of the premier institutions for the study of contemporary music in the United States.

Berklee College provides scholarships to PNGML students to their five week summer camp where some of the top music educators in the world provide instructors.

Two of PNGML students recently graduated from the summer camp and did an outstanding job while there.  Upon graduation from high school, PNGML students have the opportunity to receive four year full scholarships to the Berklee College of Music.

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