Axis Music Foundation takes to streets to solve murder mystery

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published April 5, 2017

BIRMINGHAM — Downtown Birmingham is the place in metro Detroit to see and be seen. But where there’s glamour, there can also be scandal.

At least there will be for one afternoon, when Axis Music Foundation, the nonprofit arm of Axis Music Academy, hosts its first-ever murder mystery fundraiser. The event will take participants on an investigation into “The Case of the Dead Paparazzi,” where teams solve clues and try to deduce whodunit throughout the streets and shops of downtown Birmingham.

Donny Klemmer, the new marketing director of Axis Music Academy, initiated the game concept, which has been played across the country.

“This is something I’ve done 80 to 90 times, and everyone says they’ve never done anything like this before,” Klemmer said. “A lot of people have done murder mysteries, but there wasn’t really a theme. This story unravels as you play the game, and you’re fully immersed in the storyline. You put the pieces together like a giant puzzle.”

The family-friendly adventure will take place entirely on foot — so participants should wear comfy shoes. Actors and clues will lead the way to a perpetrator and a weapon. One team will be declared the winner at the end of the day and will take home an “On The Town” prize package, courtesy of participating venues.

Each team will comprise three to five members, and there is space for about 20 teams. The minimum cost to participate is $100, but people can give more.

“The money raised will go toward students who wouldn’t otherwise have the funds or the means to have music education in their lives,” said Ryan Ghedotte, executive director of Axis Music Academy.

The foundation, with which Ghedotte said he works closely, has given lots of students sponsorships for lessons at the academy.

“Just recently we sponsored this young man, Jonathan. His mother came to one of our fundraisers, and her friend had kind of told us her story. She’s an amazing mother. Her son’s on the spectrum, and she works three jobs,” he explained. “So we used the proceeds from that particular fundraiser and gave them to her that day. She was absolutely elated.”

Eventually, Ghedotte said, the foundation hopes to expand and bring instructors and instruments to schools in need of music education. But that’s down the line. Right now, the focus is to raise as much money as possible for worthy students, and to have a good time doing it.

“The cost to put on this event is very minimal, so I can easily say more than 95 percent of the proceeds will go toward Axis Music Foundation and give underprivileged kids lessons at no charge,” Klemmer said.

Space is limited for “The Case of the Dead Paparazzi,” which will take place 2-4:30 p.m. Sunday, May 7 in downtown Birmingham. For more information or to register a team, call (248) 258-9100.