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.
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.
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."
92 year old man accompanying "We Shall Overcome" at a senior center in the Tenderloin. MusicianCorps MLK Day of Service was beautifully connected. The elderly remain the same beings they once were, just in different / fuller form - this is habitually forgotten, especially in our society where we so easily cast them off to continue life in solitude, devoid of experience and light. #mcmlk #dayofservice #musicashealer #thanksbetomartin #treasureallbeings #light #MusicianCorps
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."
At Episcopal Community Services' Next Door Shelter, there was a lot of enthusiasm in the room!
And even some dancing...
We made some new friends at Soma Studios, an affordable housing facility.
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.
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!
A huge thanks goes out to our volunteers...
And props to our great NC Team: Program Director Nick DiColandrea, and MC Artists Domenique Ciavattone, Daniel 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.
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.
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.