Jennifer Hudson sang at a swanky benefit at the Plaza Hotel featuring tons of a New York power players

 

Harbour Boys and GirlsBill Farrell AgencyYup, that’s Gwyneth Paltrow.

On Wednesday night, the Plaza Hotel hosted the Boys & Girls Harbour’s Annual “Salute to Achievement” Benefit, a first for the organisation that usually sticks to its campus on E 104thStreet. New York titans of industry likeBill AckmanandLyor Cohenand came together to honourDavid R. Weinreb,CEO of the Howard Hughes Corporation, for his contributions to The Harbour, a non-for-profit based in East Harlem that encourages creativity and critical thinking through the performing arts. 

Each year, The Harbour provides free after-school programming for over a thousand students, from preschool through high school, with a heavy emphasis on the creative arts. Last night was no exception. Students from the Harbour program sang and danced choreographed performances to the delight of the audience, which included both donors and alumni of the program, which was founded 1937.

Other guests included CeCe Peniston, Andrew Rosen, Rusty Staub, Rachel Axelrod, Sylvester & Gillian Miniter, Will Carey, Colin & Elizabeth Callender, Bill Pickens, Joseph & Amy Perella, Stephen & Beth Dannhauser, Paul Selver, Jonathan Carver, Ana Laspetkovski, Byron Garrett, Catherine Smith, David Wassong, Paul & Christine Scheele, Kevin Liles, Bill Burrs, Jonathan Canter, Mark & Ronda Axelowitz, Alain & Leah Lebec, and Morgan & Sacha Bale, and many more. 

Dr. Thomas Howard, Executive Director of The Harbour, made his way around each table, thanking donors, joking around with Harbour alumni, and even stopping to hang out with 11-year-old DJ Fulano before introducing the evening with a big smile.

Here's a look at young DJ phenom, DJ Fulano, on the ones and twos.

Sandra Bookman, reporter and weekend anchor at WABC-TV, as the host for the evening.

'David works hard to finance this city harbour to Harbour,' said Bill Ackman, Founder and CEO Pershing Square Capital Management, as he introduced honoree David R. Weinreb. He also shared with audiences Weinreb's roots in show business, which Weinreb later gladly showed off to the crowd.

In a surprise twist, performer Vanessa Williams invited David Weinreb up to sing a duet, revealing that the two had gone to high school together and were both leads in the school choir. They said 'On A Clear Day' together.

Here's some quick footage of the duet.

'We need to give the future leaders of our great city every advantage we can, from the earliest age we can, and this is why The Harbour needs your support. It already has mine!,' said event co-chair Michael Strahan, who couldn't make the event but sent a video message in his stead.

Lyor Cohen, music mogul with Def Jam, Warner, and his own 300 Entertainment, said some words.

The talented students of The Harbour performed three musical numbers during the dinner, which included dancing, singing, and rapping, evoking a standing ovation each time. They rehearsed over 100 hours over the past two months preparing for the event, and it showed.

Former Christie's auctioneer George McNeely led a quick-fire auction, raising over $125,000 in under five minutes

Next it was time for the main event. After walking through the crowd and kissing David R. Weinreb on the cheek, Academy Award-winning and American Idol Jennifer Hudson performed a set of wonderful songs, including a rendition of Leonard Cohen's 'Hallelujah' so heartfelt, she was tearful by the final verse.

Jennifer invited some lucky students on stage on stage to sing with her, a challenge they excelled at, given all their training at the Harbour. She was impressed! Jennifer seemed quite impressed.

Mark Axelowitz, Managing Director at UBS Private Wealth Management, who spoke during the event is seen here with his wife, Ronda Axelowtiz.

Byron Garrett, the Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance, spoke as well, reading a poem about success that he had written.

Ernest Lyles, Director of UBS Investment Bank came with his wife, Princess.

Stephen Dannhauser, Executive Partner of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, and his wife, Beth, President and Founder Compassionate Touch, LLC, were also in attendance.

Natasha Schlesinger, founder of Artmuse, and her filmmaker husband Adam Schlesinger, were there.

Stewart Gross, Managing Director at Lightyear Capital, and his wife, Lois Perelson-Gross, a former vice president in the Municipal Finance Department of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and current director of the Mount Sinai Children's Center Foundation were there, too.

Here's Barry Friedberg, President and Co-Founder of Friedberg Milstein and a friend.

Sylvester Miniter, President of Durham Capital Corporation and his philanthropost wife, Gillian, posed for the cameras.

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