Kitoto Von Hebb: Performer at the Twist & Shout Benefit Concert at The Apollo (February 6th, 7:30 p.m.)

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Kitoto Von Hebb was born in the 1970s, but she has a connection to The Beatles. Her father, musician Bobby Hebb, was an opening act for the 1966 tour. That isn’t his claim to fame, though, for he also penned one of the most covered songs in music history: “Sunny”.  Hebb is much more than just the person who wrote “Sunny”, something his daughter hopes people become more aware of once an anthology of his music (currently still being created) is released in the near future. Kitoto will be honoring her father at the NYC: Fab 50 kick-off event, the Twist & Shout Benefit Concert at the world famous Apollo Theater. This Thursday, February 6th at 7:30 p.m., stars ranging from Dionne Warwick to Mary Wilson will grace the stage that has been home to some of the most iconic performers of the past 50 years. Now, for the first time ever, Kitoto will sing her father’s more recognizable song, and will do so on a magical evening.  100%  of the ticket proceeds will be donated to the Food Bank For New York City.

(For more information about the event and to purchase tickets, please visit: http://www.nycfab50.com/Apollo.htm)

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Me: First off, how did you get involved in this event coming up Thursday?

Kitoto: The executive producer of the box set [The Bobby Hebb Anthology], Joe Viglione, has a friend, Charles Rosenay, said they’re doing a Beatles show, people who had performed with The Beatles and they want you to sing “Sunny” and a Beatles’ song.I was asked where and he said The Apollo, and of course my jaw hit the floor (laughing).

Me: It doesn’t get much better than The Apollo, does it?

Kitoto: No. I replied,  “Okay, I’d be more than honored to do that and stand in for my dad.” That’s how that came about.

Me: Why did you feel it was important to be part of this event?

Kitoto: Because it would honor my dad, first and foremost. That was what I was thinking. He toured with The Beatles in ’66 and he was friends with them, and so I would have loved for him to be a part of this. I know he would have absolutely loved it. He would have been so honored and so happy to reunite with so many different people that he’s passed through in his career, and since he’s not here to do that, I don’t think there’s any other way, any better way, that I can honor my dad than to perform his song. He always wanted me to get involved in the music business and I went through different phases in life where I wanted to do this or that, and I never settled on music. It wasn’t until after he died and they said that they wanted me to sing a couple of songs on the anthology album that I got that music bug again and wanted to sing. I think this would make him happy.

Me: It’s interesting, the story I read is that it was born out of tragedy. I think of Neil Young who read about the Kent State Massacre, went off into the woods, came back a few hours later with “Ohio,” one of the great, angry protest songs. Your father went about it from a really different standpoint where he came back with, “Yes, horrible things happen, but…” The positive outlook, again, exudes from the song. It definitely speaks volumes about the guy he was.  This may be a personal question, and if you don’t want to answer, that’s fine, but what goes through your head when you sing “Sunny” for a crowd of people?

Kitoto: Well, I’ve never sung “Sunny” for a crowd of people!

Me: Oh! I didn’t realize that! 

Kitoto: Yes! I’ve sung at an open mic night, I sang “Proud Soul Heritage” which my dad wrote for our family and about our family, and I sang “Love You” which my dad wrote and is also going to be on the box set, but I’ve never sung “Sunny”. I think I’ve sung it once at karaoke years ago at Salisbury Beach. (laughing)

Me: I guess the question is what is going through your head now as you’re getting ready to sing it?

Kitoto: Fear. Anxiety. Nervousness. Butterflies. (laughing)

Me: (laughing)

Kitoto: Of course my father goes through my head. When I think of the lyrics of the song, I think of God.

Me: I don’t want to make you any more nervous than you already are…

Kitoto: (laughing)

Me: …but to sing this for the first time on the stage of The Apollo…

Kitoto: I know! (laughing)

Me: …(laughing) I would be pinching myself, saying, “Is this a dream?  This is the most incredible thing ever!”

Kitoto: I am blown away just about every day! When it sinks in that I’m doing this and the days count by, I’m going to start thinking, “Wow, this is really happening!”

Me: I didn’t realize it was your first time singing “Sunny” in public. I’m even more in awe of you than I was before!

Kitoto: Thank you!

Me: What are you looking forward to with the event at The Apollo on Thursday?

Kitoto: I’m looking forward to applause and not boos! (laughing)

Me: They’re not going to have the hook and all that, are they? (laughing)

Kitoto: I don’t know! (laughing)

Me: I remember watching a lot of the old shows…

Kitoto: And the clown comes out!

Me: I hope Charles isn’t going to have that for you guys!

Kitoto: I hope not! (laughing)  It’s going to be on my mother’s birthday so she’s coming with me. I’m looking forward to that, and to honoring my dad. I just really want to make him proud.  I’m looking forward to getting up on that stage, rubbing the tree stump that so many people have touched, so many people that I’ve admired and looked up to and been in awe of my whole life. To stand on the stage where such incredible talent has stood, and to just say a little prayer and sing “Sunny” from my heart, and then to walk off stage and not falling on my heels or anything like that (laughing), and just take it in.

Me: What an incredible evening it’s going to be. I’m so happy and excited for you!  Nervous for you, too, but I’m more excited! (laughing)

Kitoto: Thank you!  I think I’m nervous enough for the both of us! (laughing)

For more information on Bobby Hebb, please visit:

http://www.bobbyhebb.com 
http://www.sunnythesong.com 
http://twitter.com/sunnythesong 

BMI’s write up on Bobby 
http://www.bmi.com/news/200411/20041123c.asp

 

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~ by Jennifer Dodge on February 2, 2014.

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