Paul McCartney and Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. will tickle the ivories to raise money for the Motown Museum next month in New York.
The two will be guests of honor at a $10,000-per-person fundraiser on Sept. 18 at Steinway Hall. The event will celebrate the restoration of an 1877 Steinway grand piano that sat in Motown's Studio B, where it was played by Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Funk Brothers' Earl Van Dyke and others before being moved to the museum, which resides in Motown's original Hitsville USA headquarters.
Seeing the piano was in great disrepair while he toured the museum prior to his July 24, 2011, performance at Detroit's Comerica Park, McCartney offered to foot the bill to ship it back to Steinway & Sons for refurbishment. The piano maker gave the historic instrument a full once-over, replacing its strings, hammers, legs and other parts. The original, removed components will be preserved and exhibited at the museum when the piano returns to Detroit in late fall.
"One of the things Paul said is he wanted to see this project through from beginning to end," Robin Terry, granddaughter of the late museum founder Esther Gordy Edwards and chairwoman of the museum board of trustees, tells Billboard. "We thought this was an appropriate way of doing it, unveiling the piano and inviting both Paul and Mr. Gordy to be the first to sort of put their DNA on it, if you will."
McCartney and Gordy will both play the piano at the September fundraiser.
Once the piano is back in Detroit, it will be returned to its spot in Hitsville's Studio A. Terry is planning for a late November unveiling there and promises the instrument is "going to have a very special life in the city when it returns." She says the museum plans "to use the piano in our education programming and really inspire other talented people in the Detroit area community who are aspiring to be musicians, performing artists and the like."