The Starkey Hearing Foundation’s So the World May Hear Awards Gala draws celebrities of all kinds to St. Paul’s RiverCentre every year. Although Lin-Manuel Miranda had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict, attendees at yesterday’s gala still included music legends like Alice Cooper, Gloria Gaynor, and Paul Williams.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation is the charitable branch of Starkey Hearing Technology. They take hearing trips around the world and provide free hearing aids to people who need them.
To kick off the awards the Tenors sang “The Prayer,” at the end of which a bald eagle flew around the room. It was supposed to return to its trainer, but instead it hit the ceiling and landed backstage.
During host Sinbad’s opening monologue, the trainer brought the eagle back out to assuage fears that the bird had been injured. “He’s a true American,” quipped the host. “He went over the wall.”
(Earlier, on the red carpet, Sinbad talked about being a huge Prince fan. He even said he can’t pick a favorite song. “No one has a favorite,” he said. “You know you’re a great artist when I can’t pick a song. But I’ve been jamming to Prince live in Detroit.”
Huey Lewis, I learned, does have a favorite. It’s “Diamonds and Pearls.”)
The evening kept going with videos of mission trips that the Starkey Foundation has taken, including a trip to Armenia with Elton John.
The next entertainer of the evening was Darci Lynne. Lynne is a ventriloquist who won America’s Got Talent at the young age of 13. She performed with her puppets Oscar the mouse and Petunia the bunny.
Later, Williams took the stage. He spoke about his struggle with alcoholism and how telling his story helps others out. “You get to keep your miracle by giving it away,” Williams said.
He then performed “The Rainbow Connection” (a song he co-wrote), and later that night auctioned off two original songs written about any subject matter to benefit the Starkey Foundation. That gained the foundation $125,000.
There was an appearance by Forest Whitaker, followed by former president Bill Clinton, before the Tenors returned to stage to perform “Forever Young.”
The next big performer to take the stage was Gloria Gaynor. She performed a cover of “Never Can Say Goodbye,” and her song “I Will Survive.”
At the end of the night, Alice Cooper took the stage before his performance to honor his manager Shep Gordon.
To close out the night there was a superband of music legends. It kicked off with Don Felder coming out on stage with his double-necked guitar saying, “Anyone recognize this guitar? You know what’s coming next.” He then started playing “Hotel California.”
Then Alice Cooper joined Felder on stage to sing “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “I’m Eighteen.” To add onto the star power, Robby Krieger from the Doors joined the band and they played “Five to One” and “Break on Through (To the Other Side).”
To close out the show some of the big donors joined Cooper, Felder, and Krieger as they played “School’s Out.”
Top to bottom: Darci Lynne with Petunia; Don Felder; Robby Krieger, Alice Cooper, and Don Felder; Gloria Gaynor; Laura Sterbens with eagle. All photos by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Foundation.