In honor of Black History Month last week at the Apollo, director and producer Martin Shore and legendary artists celebrated the launch of Take Me To The River Education Initiative in partnership with Berklee City Music to launch an educational mission to empower and educate students through the Memphis soul documentary, while bringing standards-based instruction materials centered around the film and its music to schools nationwide free of charge.
The education initiative developed together by Berklee City Music program, a nonprofit education program directed by Berklee College of Music that enables youth from underserved communities to develop and enhance their skills through the study of contemporary music.
Cross generational award-winning artists united last Thursday at the Apollo including STAX legend William Bell, Grammy Award nominees Otis Clay and Bobby Rush, legendary house band Hi Rhythm Section, Critics Choice Award winner Al Kapone and Talking Heads' Jerry Harrison.
Closing out the evening, Music Unites' two New York City after-school choir programs, Music Unites Pepsi PS153 Chorus from Harlem and Music Unites Youth Choir, premiered the newly commissioned arrangement of the gospel song "Wish I Had Answered." Music Unites is dedicated to music education, and raising academic and lifetime achievement for at-risk public school students through the support and creation of unique music education partnerships and programs. The organization has created monthly "Music-Versity" workshops, designed in alignment with standard for career and college readiness. Music Unites students have visited Pepsi, Paramount, Spotify, Google, ICM Partners to Swizz Beatz studio and Converse's Rubbertracks Brooklyn studio for a guitar workshop. Other student performances included STAX Music Academy and Amp Up NYC.
"The Music Unites choir performance was just so fantastic and having them there sharing their special energy to introduce "Wish I Had Answered" meant so much to me personally," said Shore. "It literally brought joy and tears to our eyes for all of us involved in the project."
Shore's historic feature documentary aims to educate and inspire a new generation of young people about the musicians and social context surrounding the civil rights movement. Inspiration was sourced from exploring the influence of cross-generational collaborations and inter-racial musical influences portrayed in a new music project documented during a crucial chapter in the history of American popular music in Memphis and the Mississippi Delta. Hip-hop artists including Snoop Dogg, Lil' P-Nut, Hustle & Flow's oscar-winning Frayser Boy, Al Kapone and Yo Gotti, paired with Grammy-winning Memphis soul and R&B legends Mavis Staples, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Booker T. Jones will be featured in the film.
Currently, Shore is looking to continue to raise awareness and further expand its educational reach.
"We are looking at ways to broaden and sustain our efforts further," said Shore.
Being based out of LA, Take Me To The River would absolutely love to have the opportunity to be included in the LA Public Schools curriculum in the same way we are now in the New York City Public Schools curriculum."
For more information on the educational initiative, go to: http://tmttreducation.com.