When Kanye West played New Orleans last summer, he started his Essence Music Festival set atop a scissors lift in the middle of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Saturday night, he returned to the Crescent City for a more intimate show in a ballroom at the Hyatt Regency, and he brought company. Rihanna and Jamie Foxx joined him when he concluded "A Night to Make it Right," a music-filled fundraiser thrown by Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation. Guests at the $1,000-a-plate gala were welcomed at the door by the Roots of Music marching band, serenaded in the lobby by Dr. John, met at the top of the stairs by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and entertained by Rihanna and Sheryl Crow.
West headlined the afterparty, where New Orleans' Soul Rebels also performed, along with Seal and Snoop Dogg. He blasted out a short, tight set of crowd-pleasers starting with "Runaway" and "Good Life." Rihanna wasn't billed as part of the party, but she walked onstage in a sexy white, black, and gold gown for "Run This Town" and "All of the Lights," after which the stage went dark. Offstage, Foxx recalled West coming to his studio, then he walked out of the wings to perform the set-closing "Gold Digger" with West.
The Make it Right Foundation started in 2007 with the goal of rebuilding New Orleans' flood-decimated Lower Ninth Ward with architecturally progressive, safe, green, affordable houses. Organizers hoped that the night would raise in the neighborhood of $4 million, primarily for its New Orleans initiative, though it is also working on developments in Newark, New Jersey and Kansas City, Missouri.
During the gala, host Brad Pitt joked, "Snoop likes to be in the green room because he likes the green." During the afterparty, Snoop returned the love. "Someone said if you could be any actor, who would you be?," Snoop said from the stage. "Brad Pitt. This is a shout out to you because you're a special person."