There are few things that I appreciate more than the opportunity I have had to create music and melody. My wife Ramona and all my children
are blessings in the flesh and I am eternally thankful toThe Creator for these other "gifts" which have been given to me in addition to my talent.
There is another gift which I appreciate which is as important to me as my music and family and that is the gift of sharing. I have learned through the years what the power of giving does when you have the opportunity to share the blessings which you have received and then see the fruits of
the sharing. One of the areas which we should concentrate on is the mis-education of our children.
While some continue to argue over who the culprit is that has participated in the now systematic mis-education AND financing of ignorance in our youth, I would suggest that the problem can be remedied in part by each of us looking at how we can be part of the solving and what we can do.
To reach one and teach one is by now more than just an anecdotal
or cliche, it is a calling. Passing on our cultural and musical legacy to our young musicians and children at large is our responsibility and what many think is a problem may be an opportunity in disguise.
My wife and I started a program called The Cultural Link a few years ago because we observed a steady decline in the pool of African american Musicians and a degeneration of programs that teach the music. Budget cuts which target cultural awareness and educational programs also target the music education since the music is so much a part of the culture. While the young people today have their own version of expressing themselves in the context of musical experience, there is something seriously out of order when a turntable is considered to be a musical instrument, or when someone can talk in derogatory terms or about nothingness and yet be applauded as a musical genius.
Our organization is committed to assist in the development of the extraordinary talent in our community by creating opportunity for our children to express their natural abilities through music. We present musical workshops in local school districts around the country which
help nurture the creative talent which we've identified. We use the workshop model to inspire, motivate, and mentor those youth to gain
the confidence and self esteem and the knowledge that they can aspire and achieve so much more than mediocrity or status quo. And yet our workshops offer a lot more than supplemental musical appreciation.
We apply a mentor linking process that emcompasses professionals in the music industry as well as artists who understand the need to reach back and share what they know as well as help carry on.
Our commitment is one that follows many of our students throughout their educational career. I have experienced the joy of seeing some of our students grow up and become professional musicians and play around the world. Some have even played in concert with me! I still recall some who were timid and shy at first, learning to let their melody come forth and I watched their growth in talent as well as appreciation for what they had within them to share with the world.
Ramona and I are always excited about the "growing" process of this endeavor of ours. I have a confession to make about my motivation. I
have two reasons and they are both "selfish". The first reason why we
do this is because I love and appreciate the music and I personally would rather not see it just dissappear in the night. It is part of who and what we are, and we must not forget anything that is so defining in our cultural
and spiritual makeup. The other reason why we do The Cultural Link
is because of our love for something else, our future.
As my friend and fellow musician George Benson once said in the lyrics of the songThe Greatest Love, the children ARE our future, so I am obligated to give what of myself I can musically and otherwise to insure and inspire that future.
Finally I'd like to offer a suggestion to you and that is to become as "selfish" as I am about giving of yourself and your talent, giving something back to our "future"...