*After 15 years, the Recording Academy returned to New York to celebrate its historic 60th Annual Grammy Awards with a record breaking number of pre-Grammy events in anticipation of Music Biggest Night.
One of the top events during Grammy Week was presented by Toyota, “A Quintessential New York Night,” in collaboration with This Is Dope, a multi-faceted, experiential marketing agency. The intimate dinner and concert were held at The McIntosh House, an upscale resident in the trendy and artistic district of SoHo.
Continuing Toyota’s ongoing tradition for showcasing emerging talent, the event featured newcomer Victory Boyd, who, along with her brothers and sisters, were personally signed to the Roc Nation record label by Jay Z. Victory’s current project, It’s a New Dawn is a mix of jazz and folk music. Ledisi, who also headlined the private affair, celebrated her three Grammy Award nominations including Best Traditional R&B Song for her radio hit, “All The Way.”
Victory and Ledisi delivered rousing acoustic performances and were met with standing ovations which included Victory’s rendition of Billie Holiday’s classic, “God Bless the Child,” and Ledisi’s version of Sam Cooke’s civil rights anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come.
“We are proud to be a part of this weekend,” says Mia Phillips, the Director of Brand Marketing Strategy at Toyota. “A weekend dedicated to celebrating the achievements of musicians and music. Toyota has a passion for music. We understand that it is a universal language that allows people to feel emotions and connect at their deepest level and help those music fans who are interested in finding the new greatest thing.”
Phillips, who has been with the auto giant for 27 years, is responsible for creating strategy that ensures the brand resonates with multicultural and general marketing consumers in the U.S. with three of its most populated groups—the African American, Asian and Hispanic communities.
#BlackLivesMatter activist DeRay Mckesson, National Manager Brand Marketing Strategy for Toyota Mia Phillips, TV/Radio Personality Bevy Smith, Grammy nominee Ledisi, singer Victory Boyd, #MeToo Founder Tarana Burke, and actor Titus Burgess seen at Toyota Music presents a Quintessential New York Night at The McIntosh House on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018 in New York. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision for Toyota/AP Images)
Hosted by TV and radio personality, Bevy Smith, the guest list included a who’s who of media, entertainment and politics including political strategist and CNN commentator Angela Rye; #MeToo founder, Tarana Burke; actor and singer, Tituss Burgess; filmmaker Mimi Vales; and BET Network’s programming head Connie Orlando, among others.
With attention paid to every detail, the evening opened with the gifted and talented youth musicians from Harlem School of the Arts (HSA). The classically trained instrumentalists performed selections from some of today’s popular artists and Grammy Award nominees. Toyota presented HSA with a donation of $10,000 for the school’s prep program. Graduates of HSA go on to study at leading performing arts conservatories and universities across the country.
The stunningly visual affair highlighted a commissioned art piece by visual artist Max Sansing and featured a presentation of synchronized swimmers. Acclaimed Chef Danielle Saunders curated the state-style dinner. The exquisite four-course meal for the 45 seated guests included gulf shrimp seafood gumbo with buttermilk cornbread crumble; spinach kale and arugula black-eyed pea salad with pickled red onions and a roasted garlic vinaigrette; pan-seared Chilean sea bass with cockles, andouille and fried green tomato sauce vin blanc; and southern-style surf and turf petite jumbo lump crab cakes with drunken short ribs of beef over hand-spun Yukon gold mashed potatoes and crispy bourbon-glazed Brussels sprouts. The final course was a sweet potato tartlet.
Creating an ultimate experience in entertainment and dining, “A Quintessential New York Night” is the brainchild of This Is Dope’s co-founder Wendy Washington. With the excitement of the Grammy Awards being held in New York, Phillips said they wanted to showcase the brand differently.
“This is the first time that we’ve worked with This Is Dope,” Phillips concludes. “They are fabulous partners, and fabulous people. We’re excited to see where this goes and hopefully we can expand in the future.”