Joe Raiola is the Executive Producer and driving creative force behind Theatre Within’s Annual John Lennon Tribute, a New York City tradition since 1981. It is the longest running John Lennon Tribute concert in the world and one of just two Lennon Tribute concerts (the other being in Japan) sanctioned by Yoko Ono.
Last year’s Tribute helped further John Lennon’s vision for a better world by raising funds for Theatre Within’s performing arts workshops and Spirit Foundations, founded by John and Yoko in 1978 as a vehicle to support charities that address the problems of the aging, abused women and children, and victims of terrorism and natural disasters. Previous Tributes have raised money to help feed the hungry, build music schools in the Third World and support Hurricane Sandy relief.
The Tribute was created by Joe and his creative mentor, Alec Rubin, who directed the show with Joe’s assistance for 20 years. Soon after Alec retired in 2001, Joe re-envisioned the Tribute, breaking away from its established improvisational theater format and turning it into a charity concert.
Under Joe’s visionary leadership, the Tribute’s Silver Anniversary was held at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 2005. In 2008, by bringing the Tribute’s charity partner, Why Hunger, together with Yoko Ono, Joe played a key role in launching the “Imagine There’s No’s Hunger” Global Initiative, which has since raised millions of dollars to fight hunger and poverty around the world.
In 2010, the 30th Annual John Lennon Tribute, a benefit for the Playing For Change Foundation, attracted worldwide attention and featured an all-star line-up of artists, including Jackson Browne, Patti Smith, Taj Mahal, Cyndi Lauper, Aimee Mann, Martin Sexton, Keb’ Mo’ and many more.
SInce then, the Tribute has attracted such acclaimed artists as Steve Earle, Raul Malo, Judy Collins, Joan Osborne, Bettye LaVette, Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, Dan Bern and David Johansen, not to mention Joe himself who has performed in the event for 33 consecutive years.