Local Current Blog

Morris Day, Jeremy Messersmith, Kat Perkins surprise United Way gala attendees

Morris Day and the Time perform at a United Way gala in Minneapolis. Photo by Steven Cohen for MPR.

Thursday night kicked off Greater Twin Cities United Way’s 100th year with their Good for Generations centennial celebration. 3,000 volunteers representing over 450 companies attended the sold-out gala at the Minneapolis Convention Center for an evening of hors d’oeuvres, awards, and surprise musical guests.

2014 marked a successful year for Minnesota’s volunteer community, with the state ranking second-most philanthropic in the country. United Way’s board chair Richard Davis playfully joked in the opening ceremonies, “I don’t know who number one is, but they probably cheated.” Davis and other company leaders used last night’s event as a launch point for their 2015 goal of generating 100,000 volunteers—nearly double their average annual turnout.

Aside from company awards and announcements, the event featured three surprise musical guests. First on the list was The Voice contestant Kat Perkins. The rock ’n’ roll Midwestern sweetheart soulfully belted her latest hit single “Fearless” to a beaming audience.  Perkins has recently been busy with her own do-good project, visiting high schools across North Dakota on her Positive Social Media Tour.

The next secret celebrity was revealed with an adorable clip of him singing the “Apples and Bananas” song to a classroom of giggling kindergartners. Twin Cities heartthrob Jeremy Messersmith then took the stage with his uplifting song “Miracles.” A keen philanthropy advocate, Messersmith stressed the importance of volunteer participation, reminding the audience that “miracles don’t just happen.”

Capping off the night with a blowout boogie, Morris Day and the Time gave a smashing half-hour set of hits. While most of the packed house trickled out the exit, die-hard fans made a beeline for the dance floor. This resulted in a uniquely intimate performance with Day even inviting a number of audience members to join him on the stage.

With original members Jelly Bean Johnson on drums and Monte Moir on keyboard, the crew knocked out stellar renditions of “Oak Tree,” “Fishnet,” “Shake!”, “Pandemonium,” and more. As the floors of the convention center shook and the crowd collectively belted, “What time is it?” it was clear this would be a century to remember.

Selena Carlson is currently tackling a double major in journalism and music business at Augsburg College. In addition to writing, she is an avid enthusiast of all things banjo; biking; and breakfast for dinner.