Hoping to raise awareness and a few bucks for the cause, the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America hosted a release party for music producer Jilladair “JD” Carlson and singer-guitarist Erik Kjelland’s inspirational CD, “Everybody Falls,” March 2 at Guest House.
The festivities included a fashion show, a celebrity memorabilia auction and a live performance by Kjelland. Proceeds from sales of the CD will benefit MSAA.
Carlson has battled MS for 27 years. She was unable to attend the event because she couldn’t get medical clearance from her doctor in Seattle, but she sent a message to media consultant Michele Weston, the evening’s host, to read aloud.
“I have lived with MS for over 27 years and I fight this fight daily. I know what it is like to struggle with a disease that changes its mask each and every day. It is a hard fight, but one we don’t have to face alone,” Carlson wrote.
Kjelland performed the track he and Carlson wrote, “Brighter.” Lyrics include, “We are all stars/everybody falls sometimes/how you stand up and get there/makes you stronger and brighter.”
“It was a blanket song about hope, and what we did was tailor it to people with MS. There are some specific lines like, ‘This brand of torture takes the cover off your nerves,’ and that’s absolutely what MS is,” Kjelland said. “We added lines like that to make it their anthem.”
Weston, founding fashion director of Mode magazine and a veteran of Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle and Vanity Fair — she worked with Annie Leibovitz on VF’s first Hollywood issue in 1994 — was diagnosed with MS six years ago. She said she told her doctor, “No walker, no cane, no wheelchair, and by the way, I’m busy!”
The fashion show, with Weston as commentator, included lifestyle looks from G-Star, B. Artise, Hannah, Tracy Reese, Nicole Miller and Mestif, a new outerwear label that hits retail this fall. All are available at N Boutique in Harlem.
The event came about when Stephanie Jacques, president of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s chapter of the Black Retail Action Group, contacted the MSAA to volunteer in November, after seeing it on a list of upcoming events on Volunteermatch.org.
This story first appeared in the March 12, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Members of BRAG are receiving school credit for participating, although there was no official FIT sponsorship involved. Jacques, 19, helped gather models and find a retailer to donate the ensembles for the fashion show.
“The 250 guests attending this event raised enough for MSAA to provide a new electric scooter for a person challenged with MS who seeks to improve their mobility and quality of life,” added Malcolm Friend, director of national volunteer services and special events at MSAA.
The auction netted about $1,300. A cashmere throw donated by Calvin Klein garnered the top bid, exceeding $200, and a signed tennis shoe by Maria Sharapova went for $100. Other items featured in the celebrity auction included four tickets to “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” a 2006 Team Collectors Football and items autographed by Carmen Electra.
The CD is on sale at Everybodyfalls.com for $10. For more information, visit msassociation.org/give.html or contact Malcolm Friend at email@example.com.