Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo will take part in virtual fundraiser
The husband and wife duo of Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo, original members of The 5th Dimension, will perform live during the Hylton Performing Arts Center’s virtual 10th Anniversary Celebration on July 18.
The 5th Dimension was a powerhouse in the ’60s and ’70s, charting with hits such as “One Less Bell to Answer,” “Up-Up and Away” and “(Last Night) I Didn’t Get to Sleep at All.”
“Our sound was special. We were an African-American group with a unique sound; people couldn’t pigeon-hole us,” McCoo said. “We opened up opportunities to other younger musical acts for appearances on TV variety shows. Our music appealed to the youth and their parents; both generations enjoyed us, bought our music, and came to our concerts together.”
After leaving the group, McCoo and Davis recorded “You Don't Have to be a Star (to Be in My Show),” which went all the way to No. 1, and earned the couple a Grammy Award.
“Our music reminds people of happy and important times in their lives,” McCoo said. “We also love the fact that grandchildren are discovering us. Recent comments from a couple of different fans: They’d been feeling down from all the challenges facing us today. They started playing our music and the songs lifted them up and brought them out of their slump.”
Together, McCoo and Davis received a total of seven Grammy Awards, earned 15 gold and three platinum records and even hosted their own TV show on CBS. After that ended, Davis turned his attention to a career in gospel music, while McCoo performed on the show, “Solid Gold.”
“We’ve had so many wonderful experiences—in our early years, winning Grammy Awards and other acknowledgements for our work from our peers; later, winning a Grammy at a different time in our career as a duet,” Davis said, adding that receiving the Tokyo Music Festival Grand Prize and the reunion tour with The 5th Dimension in the ’90s were some of his favorite moments. “Recently, at the Orleans Casino in Las Vegas, audiences re-living their youth dancing down the aisle to the stage on ‘Aquarius’ was such a special moment.”
Like everyone, McCoo and Davis, who were dubbed “the First Couple of Pop and Soul” by Billboard Magazine, have been stuck at home during because of COVID-19 and have been trying to organize themselves with this new coronavirus world.
“All businesses seem to be working out of everyone’s homes, throwing off our old ways of doing business,” Davis said. “Also, we’ve been on the road for much of our lives, always lamenting that we had no time to get ourselves organized at home. We had thought about retiring—so many of our friends in other businesses had been doing it); we were trying to get the feel of that possibility.”
That’s why the couple was thrilled when The Hylton Center contacted them and invited them to do a virtual performance.
“We are delighted that George Mason University extended this invitation to us to participate in this important anniversary for the Hylton Center,” Davis said. “There are so many wonderful acts they could've asked, and they came to us. We were intrigued by this new idea, a new way of them celebrating their 10th anniversary gala.”
The fundraiser provides critical support to the many artistic performances, arts education programs, and outreach initiatives, as well as the Hylton Center’s Endowment. The evening will also feature an appearance by George Mason’s own jazz vocalist, Darden Purcell, and will include a Raise Your Paddle fundraiser supporting the Hylton Center’s Education Initiative.
Those taking part will also get a home-delivered meal catered by Susgan Gage Caterers complete with a bottle of wine.
“Entertainment is such an important part of all of our lives and we want our performance to be memorable for them,” McCoo said. “We always think about the audience and what they want from us. If we didn’t give them our hits, they’d be disappointed. It’s going to be a great night.”
The virtual event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will also include a tribute to Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C. for their many contributions to the Hylton Center, George Mason University, and the community, and remarks from the Hylton Center’s and George Mason University’s leadership.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://hylton.calendar.gmu.edu/hylton-center-10th-anniversary-virtual-celebration