Class act Eliot Kennedy and his showbiz pals got top marks after performing a charity concert at his old school and raising £4,500 for a new sound system in the hall, writes Graham Walker.
The Grammy award winner’s pop superstar friends Donny Osmond and Gary Barlow even popped up – with personal video messages recorded especially for the event at Dinnington Comprehensive.
Eliot, currently producing Donny’s 60th album, performed his global hits after giving the audience a sneak peak of songs he is writing with best pal Gary for a new West End and Broadway musical, about Peter Pan author JM Barrie, called Finding Neverland.
VIDEO: Press the play button to watch highlights and backstage interviews.
Take That heartthrob Gary, who is on a UK tour which brings him to Sheffield’s Motorpoint Arena on Sunday, promised to turn up in person next year.
“I end up doing video messages every time Eliot has one of his evenings. I promise you next time, I’m going to be there,” he said. “Luckily, I’m seeing loads of Eliot at the moment because we are writing this musical, Finding Neverland. Enjoy yourselves and hopefully I’ll see you next year.”
Donny, in his video message, revealed plans to promote the album he is making with Eliot, with a UK tour. He said: “I’m so excited about this album. It’s turning out just the way we wanted it to. It should be out about October.
“I think I’m going to be coming over to do some concerts, to promote it. I can hardly wait. In the meantime have a great time, raise a lots of money, for a great cause.”
Special guest performers included Sheffield’s Boy On A Dolphin frontman John Reilly, rising star Kat Eaton and talent from the Eliot Kennedy Academy, based at his city centre Steelworks studio – including Sheffield teen sensation Massimo Restaino, simply known as Max, Laura Erby and Dale McKay
His personal assistant, Tracy Davis, even got in on the act – she was plucked out of the audience to provided the Mel C guest vocals on his Bryan Adams hit When You’re Gone.
Eliot, aged 45, who began writing songs 30 years ago on the school piano, which remains in the assembly hall, entertained with hits he’s written and produced for Take That, Boyzone and The Spice Girls.
He also donated a framed CD presentation he was given, celebrating The Spice Girls chart-topping single he wrote, Say You’ll Be There. It went for £500 in a silent auction on the night.
Eliot said: “It’s a pleasure to come back here, raising money to get a new PA system. I want kids from this school to have the same chance I did.
“I’ve had an amazing career and this is an opportunity to give something back, have a fantastic time with a bunch of great musicians and a load of friends. It was just amazing. One of the best nights ever.”
Headteacher Paul Blackwell said: “What an amazing night.
“It’s fantastic to see Eliot coming back to Dinnington for the second year in a row.
“The talent on stage was just immense and the absolutely fabulous news is that we raised £4,500 to put a PA system into school, so at long last the students at Dinnington, the singers that we’ve got here, can actually perform and have the proper equipment to do so.
“Thank you so much Eliot.”