by Genea L. Webb, For New Pittsburgh Courier
There is so much musical talent that’s come out of Pittsburgh, from singer George Benson to rapper Wiz Khalifa, and the number keeps growing. Self-proclaimed music groupie Don Patterson wants to pay homage to our city’s musical greats in the ultimate way: wax figures.
“There’s so much musical talent that has come out of Pittsburgh and I don’t think the story’s been told and that’s what I want to do. I want to tell the story because the story deserves to be told,” Patterson said. “I fell in love with music at the age of 7 after I got Parliament’s ‘Testify’ (song) and I fell in love with museums and wax figures after my father took me to Canada, and I went to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and saw the wax figures and how real they looked.”
Ever since, Patterson has dreamed of creating a wax museum filled with Pittsburgh’s music legends. And on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, he’ll host an event that is a de facto fundraiser to help make the wax museum a reality.
“The Wings and Wine Affair” will be held from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Wallace Event Center, inside the Hosanna House in Wilkinsburg, 807 Wallace Ave. The event will feature cardboard cutouts of Pittsburgh’s music legends, along with various flavors of chicken wings, chocolate candy, drinks, vendors, and a live musical celebration of the late Pittsburgh songstress, Phyllis Hyman.
“I want people to imagine going to a wax museum and seeing these figures. That’s what they will do at the Valentine’s Day event,” said Patterson, 61. “We’re going to have 12 cutouts on display. The audience will be able to go through and take pictures with the cutouts and learn about the rich musical history of the city.”
Patterson moved from Ohio to Pittsburgh in 1983 to attend the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He quickly became enamored with Pittsburgh’s music scene and got a chance to meet Hyman when he worked at a liquor company.
“I said. ‘Hi, Ms. Hyman, I am here to take care of you,” Patterson recalled. “She was so nice to me. I was in my early 20s and I was intimidated by her. I couldn’t even look her in the eye.”
Local singer Stephanie Wellons will perform about a dozen of Hyman’s songs at the affair. Tanisha Thomas will serve as the night’s mistress of ceremonies.
Some of the entertainers to be featured on cardboard cutouts include: George Benson, Phyllis Hyman, Billy Strayhorn, Mary Lou Williams, Erroll Garner, Lena Horne, Art Blakey, Ahmad Jamal and Billy Eckstine.
Patterson said he’s currently trying to collect personal memorabilia from each musical icon to be placed in the museum along with their wax figure and finding ways to get to get the wax figures created. Patterson has also been touring museums across the country to get ideas of how to layout the space.
“This is about promoting, recording and telling the story of the Pittsburgh music scene,” Patterson told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “Once I learned of all the musical history in Pittsburgh, I was wondering why no one was telling the story. “This is our story and we have to tell this story.”
(To purchase tickets for the event, call 412-265-6181 or 412-583-2649.)
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: DON PATTERSON)