The Jim Toy Community Center, a volunteer-run organization that hosts Ann Arbor Pride, and has been serving the local LGBTQ community for the last 29 years, will host their first event of the year on March 18 at the North Star Lounge.
“The Barbra Streisand Songbook” is a fundraiser and will feature tenors Jay Kaplan and Jeffrey Willets singing an evening of hits by legendary singer Barbra Streisand.
According to Halsh, president of the Jim Toy Community Center, this event is a fundraiser designed to help future Jim Toy programming, such as the annual Ann Arbor pride, scheduled for Aug. 5.
“Jeffrey[Willets] reached out to us. He and his friend were doing a fundraiser based on this book of Barbra Streisand’s work. They did it in Royal Oak, and it was a big success. So they wanted to bring something like that to Ann Arbor,” Halsh said.
According to Kaplan, one of the aforementioned performers, the songbook performance is an event he, alongside Willis, has performed for over 15 years, with each event having a different songbook theme.
Kaplan and Willis will perform alongside pianist Nick Frederick and percussionist Jessie Gibbs. This event will also offer food and drinks.
“We love Barbra Streisand. In some ways, it’s intimidating because no one sings a song better than Barbra Streisand,” Kaplan said. “That’s the running joke in their show. Of course, we can’t sound like her, but it’s a tribute to her career and accomplishments.”
While the Jim Toy Community Center no longer has a physical location, officially shutting down in 2021, The North Star Lounge in Ann Arbor will be hosting this event in collaboration with the community organization.
Halsh states the idea to collaborate with the lounge came from his previous collaborations with The North Star Lounge owner Phillis Engelbert.
“The North Star Lounge has always been a community organizer. Phillis was always big in community involvement,” Halsh said. “Phyllis and I had met over the summer. So we already had experience promoting each other’s events and collaborating together.”
Following this event, Halsh stated the focus is on the forthcoming pride celebration. Starting between then, The Jim Toy Community Center wants to collaborate with any organization if the event aligns with one of its three pillars of advocacy: community involvement, engagement, and education.
“One of the biggest limiting factors right now is people. If there are those interested in hosting and supporting different groups or need some organizational help, we can get that message out. We can help bring people together,” Halsh said. “I’m looking forward to meeting people. This fundraiser is going to be a lot of fun. I want people to watch for more events and tell us how we can support them.”
Tickets for The Barbra Streisand Songbook begin at $10.
Antonio Cooper is a freelance journalist from Detroit, Michigan. His coverage of music festivals and interviews with local celebrities appeared in The E-Current Magazine, The Detroit Metro Times, XXL Magazine, RichMagDigital, The Ann Arbor Observer, and Pop Magazine.