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The City Parks Foundation held its gala at SummerStage on Thursday night in Central Park, honoring Paradigm head of global music Marty Diamond and ING Americas, with CEO Gerald Walker. Diamond’s longtime clients Janelle Monáe, Sara Bareilles and David Gray performed at the event to honor their agent and friend.
“Nobody understood what I was trying to do as a live performer and you did,” Monáe said from the stage. “You fought for me behind the scenes. You have been an angel. You have been the person that when things are working out in the front, you are the person fighting in the back. And we need angels like that. You really have been honestly the best. And we wouldn’t be here without your dedication to excellence, protection of your artists and the community and family at Paradigm. Thank you so much.”
Monáe opened her set with her hit “Make Me Feel,” and she also performed a rousing rendition of “Tightrope.” She closed by going into the crowd performing “Come Alive,” handing the microphone to Diamond to sing along at points.
Bareilles also featured a sing-along portion in her set. Diamond’s daughters Apple and Story joined in for her song “Brave.” She also played “She Used to Be Mine” from her Broadway musical Waitress, which she joked Diamond and his family see once a week. Finally, she played the first song she ever played for Diamond when she was looking for representation: “Love Song.”
“I carried my keyboard up the stairs to Marty’s apartment and I set it up and I played for him and I begged for him to represent me as my agent,” Bareilles said. “He’s been an incredible friend, a colleague, a cheerleader, and just one of my favorite humans on the face of the planet.”
Gray played his hit songs “Shine,” “Babylon” and “This Year’s Love” and thanked Diamond for his support over the years.
“He’s been standing by my side and believing in me from the very very beginning and I think that sounds kind of straightforward but it wasn’t straightforward at all,” Gray said. “I think singing is probably the best way to let him know how I feel.”
An emotional Diamond took the podium to thank his friend and family and the City Parks Foundation for the honor. The foundation presents free arts and culture in parks across the city’s five boroughs.
“I don’t know how I got here other than but my love of music,” Diamond said. “I remember the day riding in my brown firebird with friends to see every show show imaginable at CBGB, the Peppermint Lounge, Roseland, The Ritz and even The Garden. Little did I know that my passion would lead me to a a career, mind you one with a lot of twists and turns.”
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