The Weeknd, John Legend, More Celebrate Republic’s Monte & Avery Lipman at 2022 Spirit of Life Gala
While accepting the Spirit of Life award at the City of Hope’s star-studded 2022 gala alongside his longtime business partner and even longer-time brother Monte on Thursday evening, Avery Lipman couldn’t let the moment pass without nodding to the siblings’ breakthrough act.
“After a few close calls with Chapter 11, our first big break came…with a band called the Bloodhound Gang,” said the Republic Records co-founder, eliciting a clap from what sounded like a single person in the crowd. “Yeah, I usually get that reaction,” he cracked. “Liked by few, hated by most, but what can I say.”
It was a cheeky moment that preceded a moving declaration from Monte, who co-founded Republic with his younger brother from their kitchen table in 1995. After listing all the roles he’s known for filling — music executive, husband and father — he continued, “But what you don’t know about me, [is] I’m also a cancer survivor.”
“What started out as a routine trip to the doctor eight years ago escalated into a full-blown medical emergency that changed my life forever,” Monte recounted. “For those of you in this category, you understand the crippling fear and anxiety you experience during those dark moments. I’ve always been sympathetic and responsive to cancer-fighting initiatives, but until you go through the fire yourself, you don’t really understand the gravitas of the emotional distress which becomes all-consuming. You can’t eat, you can’t sleep and you can barely breathe.”
While the gala, held on the grounds of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, was an opportunity for music luminaries to mix and mingle, the evening kept a heavy focus on the City of Hope’s life-saving work as a world-class cancer care facility. In addition to soliciting and receiving donations of up to $100,000 — including from the Lipmans themselves — the event featured live testimonials from a number of City of Hope patients who recounted their experiences and successful cancer treatments at the world-renowned facility.
Also offering a testimonial on Thursday evening was Republic signee Billy Porter, who played emcee for the evening, exuberantly making his way through the crowd of well-heeled attendees to solicit personal anecdotes about the Lipmans from longtime colleagues including Michele Anthony, Wendy Goldstein, Jim Roppo and Jody Gerson. In addition to cancer research and treatment, Porter noted that City of Hope is also devoted to two diseases he has personally been diagnosed with: diabetes and HIV. “Unfortunately these diseases are something that touch us all, but together I know we can make a difference,” he said from the stage.
Of course, every City of Hope gala is ultimately a celebration, and entertainment for the evening was provided by Republic artists including Porter — who performed the single “Audacity” from his forthcoming album — as well as Jack Johnson and new signee Sekou, who performed a stunning rendition of late Republic Records star Amy Winehouse‘s “Back to Black.” Capping the evening was a surprise performance by the Jonas Brothers, who performed two songs: their 2021 Marshmello collaboration “Leave Before You Love Me” and 2019 Hot 100 No. 1 single “Sucker.”
While Republic’s biggest star, Taylor Swift — currently enjoying massive sales for her latest album Midnights — was not in attendance, she did take part in a pre-taped sketch that saw her pit the Lipman brothers against one another in a Succession-style skit. “I think Monte’s holding you back,” Swift tells Avery over the phone as someone off-camera pours champagne into her glass. “He’s like sort of a house cat and you’re more of a snow leopard type, you know what I mean?”
The night did boast several Republic stars IRL, including John Legend, The Weeknd and recent signee Yung Gravy, who told Billboard that part of the reason he signed with Republic was because the Lipmans “don’t feel like a boss…they feel like friends.”
Speaking of bosses, the evening featured a head-spinning lineup of top music executives. In addition to the Lipmans’ Republic Records and UMG colleagues — also including UMG CFO and executive vp Boyd Muir, Capitol Music Group chair and CEO Michelle Jubelirer, Republic Records CCO Dave Rocco and UMPG president Evan Lamberg, who made the evening’s opening remarks — other bigwigs in attendance included Sony Music Publishing CEO Jon Platt, former Recording Academy chairman and CEO Neil Portnow, iHeartMedia entertainment president John Sykes, LaPolt Law founder Dina LaPolt, CAA Music head Rob Light and Epic Records CEO and 2019 Spirit of Life honoree Sylvia Rhone.