January 17, 2011 | Oakland School for the Arts | Oakland
150 students, parents and community members from all over the Bay Area took “a day on, not a day off” to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteers came to Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) to make music, paint murals and celebrate diversity.
Participants honored the spirit of MLK Day by learning and performing the classic Bill Withers soul song, “Lean On Me.”
The day kicked off with a welcoming ceremony and a statement from Oakland Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s office and opening remarks from OSA Executive Director Donn Harris and MusicianCorps CEO and Founder Kiff Gallagher. The morning was followed by workshops in percussion, piano, guitar, bass and vocals led by volunteer musicians. While some practiced their melodies, other volunteers worked on painting a four-panel MLK-inspired mural. The mural was designed by Eduardo Valadez, Amaryllis DeJesus-Moleski and Taylor Franklin. It premiered at the afternoon performance.
After a morning full group rehearsal, members of Jazz Mafia’s brass section (Brass Mafia) led a procession to the cafeteria for a lunch hosted by OSA’s Association of Parents and Teachers. While participants enjoyed sandwiches, Demone Carter of Hip Hop 360 led an open mic featuring students from local schools singing, rapping, playing instruments and breakdancing.
After lunch, participants returned to their workshop for final rehearsals. The day culminated in a collaborative performance of “Lean On Me” in OSA’s Black Box Theater underneath the freshly painted MLK-themed mural. Participants truly lifted every voice to sing as a diverse community united through music to rock the Black Box.