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Melissa Kate / Blog

Concert From the Heart: Preparation

We are deep under way for our preparation for the Concert From the Heart. Our international guru, Mr. Van Taylor, who has spent most of his life finding ways to support his community, has masterminded this event with the phenomenal support of Ron Daniels from the Musicians Union Local 92. Being part of this event is a humbling experience, when you start to see in action the incredible talent that comes together when the cause is good. The Food Bank, the City Mission, the Musicians Hall of Fame, the Philharmonic Orchestra, New York Talent, the Colored Musicians Club, our arranger Phil Sims, the bands themselves rising to the occasion and working especially hard to make sure their game is tight-- have I forgotten somebody? Probably, because the wonderful part of this is how broad and open it is. We are connecting with a huge range of audience-- adults who love jazz and remember motown, the classical music lovers, the kids, the members of the historic colored musicians club and their fans, the churches and people who believe in giving back, fans of our legendary Lance Diamond who has deserved a show with the Philharmonic for decades... in fact every race, color, age, creed and belief has something they can find in this concert. Music is truly the bridge to peace and harmony. It's a shame that so much of the industry is colored by the sham of glitz and glamour-- but the underlying truth is that music can be a place where enemies and friends can share the same moment, the same time, and the same show-- and foster a common ground. Preparing for this concert has been a case of love and passion from the people involved. I am honored and delighted to be part of it. I hope to see you there!

Ahhh New York

With November well underway, we were grateful to have beautiful weather for our drive to NYC from Buffalo. New York State is a huge state- it's a good 8 hour car ride between the two cities, and getting band members to take the trek for a 2 hour show is rough, especially with everybody clinging to their day jobs in this tough financial environment. But those of us who are die-hard musicians were up for the ride, and we packed lights, equipment and suitcases into the back of the van and took off! We had the privilege of attending the birthday celebration for Hal Jackson at the Apollo the night before the show, and were treated to performances that prove an entertainer is more than a good voice. I was psyched for our show. The Original Sessions show was not just a band performance. I was also hosting the event as the US Director for Artfully AWARE, a non-profit organization that brings music, visual art, dance and theater to countries and villages that have lost their connection to any aesthetic skills-- and that sort of loss is one we in America can hardly imagine. We had a tough venue-- an easy subway ride to lower manhattan, but nonetheless not an arts-centric environment. So we were pleased with our small 24 person crowd. NY Ground Team members did an incredible job transforming the venue into a gallery of artwork created by villagers in Uganda-- many of them older women and men who had never painted or created artwork before-- and the images were beautiful. Several of our audience members bid on and won the artwork, and we were able to not only cover expenses but have a little extra for the organization. The band was well-received, with lots of compliments and folks who stayed on the dance floor all night. We stayed, four of us, crammed into a little NYC apartment. Even these most professional, well-seasoned musicians were humble enough to accept graciously a space to sleep and a long drive to make this show happen. Our three day venture was not as stressed as some of our earlier shows where we drive in to NYC and drive out the same night-- that's quite the ride! I'm ready to play out further and further-- keep the band moving. Thanks for reading and stay in touch with us! We may be coming to your city soon!