Eleven years after a Grand Rapids lip-dub video of the Don McLean classic set a world record, he’ll revisit the city to kick off a Black Pigeon Studios venture to put the area back on Hollywood’s radar.
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GRAND RAPIDS ‘AMERICAN PIE’ LIP-DUB VIDEO
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To say that Don McLean’s classic song, “American Pie,” created quite the stir in Grand Rapids 11 years ago – reviving interest in the hit some four decades after he released the No. 1 single – would be an understatement.
After Newsweek magazine cited Grand Rapids among “America’s Dying Cities” at the time, young event organizer Rob Bliss created a sensation with an elaborate 2011 lip-dub video accompanying “American Pie” that involved thousands of people celebrating the city, attracting millions of views and setting a world record.
Now, as McLean prepares to bring the 50th anniversary tour behind “American Pie” to DeVos Performance Hall on June 17, downtown Grand Rapids’ Black Pigeon Studios will host McLean as a guest speaker for a pre-concert event aimed at “bridging the gap” between Hollywood and Michigan – and putting the state back on the film industry map.
“The viral success of the 2010 GR lip-dub had a profound impact on both Don McLean and the city of Grand Rapids,” said Josh Sikkema, co-founder of Black Pigeon Studios.
“Don has been gracious enough to extend himself to tell this very important narrative of his personal journey and how Grand Rapids has impacted his career.”
Sikkema also hopes the appearance will serve as a “ground-level event” to spur renewed connections with the movie industry.
“We want to create an environment where Hollywood industry intersects with local Michigan industry. This is crucial for the development of Michigan’s film/art industry and local economy,” he said, noting Black Pigeon plans a series of “Bridge the Gap” events featuring celebrities and industry leaders.
“It will be a stepping stone for those ready to move to the next step within their journey. This event will speak to every creator and the knowledge gained will be priceless. In turn, we hope that each top executive, celebrity influencer we bring into the community will see that Michigan is an amazing landscape for film.”
A JUNE 17 SPEECH AND CONCERT IN GRAND RAPIDS
McLean’s June 17 speech and the event at Black Pigeon, 342 Market Ave. SW, will precede his 8 p.m. concert at DeVos Performance Hall. Concert tickets – $35.50-$95 – are available online here. (The exact time of the speech is being finalized; fans can RSVP by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.)
New York singer-songwriter McLean, who’s now 76, has earned iconic status thanks to his magnum opus, “American Pie,” which long held the record for being the lengthiest song to ever reach No. 1 on the charts.
With the memorable phrase, “the day the music died” – referring to the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens – the song weaves in references to numerous rock stars of the era.
The Grand Rapids lip-dub featuring the song earned international media attention, with the current YouTube video alone approaching 6 million views. (Scroll down to watch the video.)
McLean’s June tour stop is part of an extensive June-July tour of the United States.
Sikkema hopes his appearance here helps show that “Grand Rapids has a profound global impact in art on the world. We are home to such an amazing, diversely beautiful and talented community.”
Black Pigeon Studios is described as a 3,600-square-foot “Cyc-Wall Production Studio” aimed at bridging the gap between Hollywood and West Michigan. Event sponsors include Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and The Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.
VIDEO: The Grand Rapids Lip-Dub Video (‘American Pie’)
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