Why this year's Vocalist Showcase is especially important to me…

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 by Thomas, Michele | Studio News

"In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love" ~ Mother Teresa

I grew up on the west side of Chicago in the North Lawndale neighborhood. I went to a public elementary school just a half block down from my house called Ignacy J. Paderewski. Though I was a very artistic child and dreamt of taking fancy ballet classes like I saw kids on television do, the reality was there was barely any options for creative arts programs in my school or community. No tutus for me….

But I was lucky…really lucky by my estimations, because despite the lack of these programs in my community, I still got to participate in arts programming outside of North Lawndale. Due to the supportive teachers, friends and family who saw potential in me and invested themselves in my success, I was connected to the resources that would help cultivate my creativity. And despite growing up in a low-income neighborhood, I received a consistent music and arts education throughout my elementary and high school years. And when I look at how many opportunities came together for me - this beautiful tapestry of artistic opportunities that was woven together for me - I see the road that was paved to where I am now and I am humbled.

I was so lucky and blessed…statistically speaking. Because I know that my story is not a common one for kids growing up in Chicago's inner-cities.

I don't have to tell you the lack of access that many of Chicago's youth have to creative arts programming - both in their schools and in many of their communities. And even in our larger culture, the lack of value placed in the scholarship of the creative arts in the formative education of our youth is saddening. Especially given the known benefits of this type of education, it's both a shame and a wonder why the arts always seems to be of such little priority to our school system….

This is why I decided that this year Soulstream Music Studio would reach out and form alliances with organizations and programs that are working hard to equalize the playing field and bring arts programming to the kids who need it most.

At this year's Soulstream Vocalist Showcase, you will meet an important person in the crusade to uplift Chicago's inner-city youth. Phil Jackson is the founder and president of The Firehouse Community Arts Center which is located in my old neighborhood, North Lawndale. There, he worked for the funding to gut out an old 38th district Chicago firehouse and build the first community center in the area devoted to creative arts training in dance, videography, photography, culinary arts and studio engineering amongst other things…

Soulstream Music Studio will help to raise funding for The Firehouse at this year's showcase. With proceeds from our new Program Ad Book and our yearly raffle drawing, Soulstream will help The Firehouse Community Arts Center come closer to completing construction, and to begin providing the much needed programs that will help bring more opportunities to the inner-city youth of Chicago's westside neighborhoods.

For more information about the The Firehouse go to: http://thafirehouse.org

There's more stories to come…so look out for more posts about The Soulstream Vocalist Showcase & The Firehouse Community Arts Center ~ M.