For the fourth year in a row, MusicianCorps hosted our MLK Day of Song & Service in tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And for the first time, we celebrated this day with events in three cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Durham, North Carolina. 


San Francisco - Takin' it to the Streets in the Tenderloin

Saturday, January 18 -- We sent two roving Song Squads to San Francisco's Tenderloin District to lead group singing with high-need populations. Traveling by foot and carrying instruments, each Song Squad visited three partner sites in the neighborhood to sing with the homeless, seniors, teens in rehabilitation, women survivors of domestic violence, and low-income residents.

First, we gathered at the Cadillac Hotel, a historic Single Room Occupancy hotel in the heart of the Tenderloin. We practiced a couple songs together before heading out.

Our volunteers were all smiles.

Song Squad B hit the streets on Saturday! #mlkday #mcmlk

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

One of our stops was at the Tenderloin National Forest, a beautiful urban garden. Diana Gameros led us in an impromptu song, and passersby joined in. 

Spending the day with MusicianCorps. So talented #MCMLK #SF

A video posted by @seanswang on

At the SF Senior Center, we were pleasantly surprised to have a couple older gentlemen share their musical talents with us! First, we had some great piano accompaniment on "We Shall Overcome."

And before we could move on to our next location, this gentleman treated us to an a cappella rendition of "I Left My Heart in San Francisco."

Singing seniors rock! #mcmlk #mlkday

A video posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

At Episcopal Community Services' Next Door Shelter, there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room!

Lean on me. #mcmlk

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

And even some dancing...

Dancing to Stand by Me! #mcmlk

A video posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

We made some new friends at Soma Studios, an affordable housing facility.

Making friends and spreading cheer on #mlkday #mcmlk

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

We ended the day with some lunch courtesy of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and reflected on our experiences! We resolved to make sure we do this again soon.

Y'all rocked, Song Squad A! #mcmlk

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

Durham, NC - Music and Inspiration for Kids of All Ages 

Monday, January 20 -- MusicianCorps Artists and other musicians volunteered their time to expose kids at the Northgate Mall to different musical instruments. We partnered with local group MomsRising to throw a family-friendly birthday celebration for Dr. King.

During the opening program, MC Artist and AmeriCorps member Darrell Johnson gave a great speech about Dr. King and the role of music in the civil rights movement and its power to inspire, motivate, and coalesce people. His speech was even recognized in this article about the event.

Our MC Artist team then led the crowd in a sing-a-long of Stand By Me.

And then it was time for a little musical show and tell play. It was so much fun giving kids an opportunity to try out different instruments!

The kids enjoyed testing out the instruments! #mcmlk

A photo posted by nikkinik47 (@nikkinik47) on

A huge thanks goes out to our volunteers...

We tried our hand at #volunteering today. #mcmlk

A photo posted by nikkinik47 (@nikkinik47) on

And props to our great NC Team: Program Director Nick DiColandrea, and MC Artists Domenique CiavattoneDaniel Stark, and Darrell Johnson

Los Angeles - Singing Sweet Songs in Boyle Heights

Monday, January 20 -- Last but not least, we brought together a diverse crowd of participants for an interactive day of music-making at the landmark Breed Street Shul in Boyle Heights. Over 100 people of all ages joined us to learn and sing Bob Marley's Three Little Birds in English, Spanish, and Japanese. 

To warm up our voices, we started the day with a few sing-a-longs led by locally-produced musicians Aloe Blacc and Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli.

Our LA Program Manager Gabriel Tenorio welcomed participants by speaking about the diverse history of Boyle Heights, which has been home to waves of Jewish, Japanese, and Latino immigrant communities over the years.

And then it was time to learn Three Little Birds! Participants broke off into different workshops. Some learned the lyrics in new languages, others learned the chords on ukulele or guitar. 

Local musician Tetsuya Nakamura broke down the Japanese translation for us, and Grammy winner Quetzal Flores taught kids young and old how to strum the chords on ukulele.

Quetzal leads kids of all ages on learning the ukulele chords to Three Little Birds. #mcmlk

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

After lunch, we came back together and got ready to play!

Our full group performance was amazing. It totally warmed our hearts. We took a verse and chorus in each language.

Everyone was so pumped up that we didn't want the day to end just yet! SoAloe Blacc led the crowd in singing his hit song, Wake Me Up.

After, Aloe snapped a few photos with some young musicians from the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra.

Aloe Blacc and kids from the Boyle Heights Community Youth Orchestra #mcmlk @aloeblacc #aloeblacc

A photo posted by MusicianCorps (@musiciancorps) on

All in all, it was an inspiring day in all three cities, and a reminder that nothing brings people together quite like music! Thank you, Dr. King.