Photo credit: Eric Gaston/Central Institutional Missionary Baptist Church
On Dec. 27 a candlelight vigil was held and a music tribute concert was organized in honor of Detroit-based bassist Anthony Tolson. Tolson was carjacked and killed on Christmas eve while on his way to deliver Christmas gifts to his three children on the eastside of Detroit. The music community showed up and showed major love as the tribute was jam-packed with mourners from far and near and well-known celebrity musicians as well. The tribute raised over $7,000 for Tolson’s family and was organized by Gwen Foxx, Kern Brantley, Sundiata Mausi and Eric Rain Man Gaston.
Kern Brantley, famous bassist for Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Diddy and Aaliyah wanted to do something for Tolson to show his love and respect for the talented bass player, and that’s why the candlelight vigil and music tribute was organized in Tolson’s honor. The vigil was held at the same spot where he was killed. Approximately 250 supporters, including family and friends showed up.
Photo credit: Eric Rain Man Gaston
Immediately following the vigil, mourners gathered at Jazz Katz for the music tribute celebration where approximately over 500 people showed their love, support and respect for Tolson while rocking out to some of Tolson’s favorite music. Many celebrity musicians were in the house for the tribute and included notables such as Dwight Adams, trumpet player for Stevie Wonder; famous bassist Ralphe Armstrong; Eric “Rain Man” Gaston, drummer for Charlie Wilson; DoRohn Gough, producer for Ne-Yo; J. Drew Sheard, Karen Clark Sheard’s son; Melody Armstrong, Vanessa Bell Armstrong’s daughter; and DJ Karriem Riggins known widely for appearing with Diana Krall.
Brantley, who helped to organize the tribute, met Tolson almost 10 years ago through Gwen Foxx. Brantley was hired by the casting director of the movie Sparkle (executive produced by Whitney Houston) to find authentic musicians for the movie. Tolson auditioned (see his audition here) for the part, and though he didn’t make the cut, he still performed well enough for Kern to want to use him for other gigs. “He loved his kids, all he would talk about was taking care of his kids,” said Brantley. “They need to stop this senseless killing. There’s a better way. If these kids saw something different, maybe they would want something different. Growing up, I saw musicians like Bootsy Collins who made it cool to be a musician. It’s not cool anymore. It needs to be cool again.”
Tolson, who played for some great artists such as Jeezy, Ne-Yo and gospel legend J. Moss, will be missed by many. Jeezy himself tweeted how “Detroit lost a real one.” Our sentiments exactly.
Photo Credit: Kern Brantley FB
Another music tribute is scheduled for Tolson on Tuesday, Dec. 29 in Detroit at the world’s oldest jazz club, Baker’s Keyboard Lounge. Donations will be collected again with proceeds going to his children. There’s also a GoFundMe account set up for the Tolson family as well, which will remain open until after the funeral on Wednesday, Dec. 30 at Greater Christ Baptist Church, 3544 Iroquis St. in Detroit. The family hour is at 10 a.m. and the service starts at 11 a.m. Everyone is requested to wear brown.