Blues Traveler to benefit Kids in a New Groove Gala Benefit Nov. 18 at OWT

2011 Music for the Soul Gala with Blues Traveler to benefit Kids In a New Groove
Exclusive concert will feature catered dinner, cocktails...and one incredible cause.
WHO:                Kids in a New Groove—private music lessons for youth in foster care
WHAT:              2011 Music For The Soul Gala featuring Blues Traveler
WHERE:           One World Theatre, 7701 Bee Caves Rd., Austin, TX (512) 330-9500
WHEN:             Friday, November 18 from 6:30 – 11 p.m.
WEB:                http:/www.kidsinanewgroove.org/MusicForTheSoul
TIX:                  $250 individual, sponsorships start at $1,500
MEDIA:            Photos, details, or interviews david@wyattbrand.com, (512) 450-4395
As a musician and compassionate human being, I need to share something with you I think is profoundly important. I unequivocally believe that music can help heal most anything. Last April, Will Taylor and Strings Attached turned me on to Kids in a New Groove (KING), a non-profit organization that gives real hope to Texas youth in foster care through free private music lessons. I’ve come to realize that these children need all the healing they can get--more than any other kids in any state foster care system.

Why do I think this?  
Shanti Grossman from KING contacted me with an update on the program. She shared a few heart-breaking statistics about the Texas foster care system.

  •        Texas ranks 50th of 50 in funding for foster care.
  •        Texas also ranks dead last in education.
  •        Texas ranks first in deaths due to child abuse.
  •        Some children in the Texas system are in up to 20 single-family foster homes.
  •        Many children are in residential treatment centers/group homes until age 16.
  •        70% of the U.S. prison population has been in foster care.
  •         Many kids in foster care age out and end up pregnant or on welfare.  
There's more...
Reports indicate that less than two percent of foster youth will graduate from college and up to 50% will end up homeless within two years of emancipation. (From the KING Gala press release)
Whether these facts are related or not, I can only venture an observation that the system is freaking broken and these kids need every shred of hope they can get. I can't think of a better way to make a positive difference on every aspect of these youngsters' lives than to get involved with this program. 

Now for the Fun Part!

Blues Traveler is giving a gala dinner and concert to benefit KING on November 18 at One World Theatre! This will be a very cool event, for a very cool organization. If you can help in any way, please contact me ASAP.

Shanti also had some cracking great stories to share. She told me about a 15 year-old girl who found a reason to live through the healing power of music. The youngster had been in around 20 foster homes and 5-6 group homes. She became deeply depressed (who wouldn't?), neglecting her health and personal hygiene—essentially, she gave up. After two voice lessons in the program, she began showering again, and after a few more lessons, asked for permission to leave campus for a short run to get back in shape. 
This young woman’s sense of self-worth and confidence revived when music entered her life on a consistent basis through the KING program. During the nearly two years this young lady participated in KING, she was bounced through several more foster arrangements, always maintaining contact with her teacher, regardless of what else was going on. It was her lifeline. This speaks to the understanding and compassion of the KING instructors as well as their artistry.

The proof is in the pudding.
And then there’s Antawaine. This is Antawaine in a "Sunday's Child" interview on YouTube. What we can’t know from the video is that Antawaine came from an abusive home, as many foster kids do, and was placed in the system by child protective services from a very early age. He developed anger and other behavioral problems, to no one's surprise. Antawaine had been in the KING program for a good while prior to the interview. In the interview, he says “Guitar is the spirit of my heart.” KING has made a radical difference in this young man's life. That’s how powerful this program is.

Want more awesome Proof is in the Pudding goodness?
Here's what KING music instructor Genevieve Borden (MT-BC, Neurologic Music Therapist) has to say about her young pupil:

Joshua is a fantastic young man. When I first met him, he was a little shy and was not extremely confident about his musical abilities in piano and voice. In the last year, I have seen him grow not only in his music career, but also in his schoolwork. He is improving greatly in both piano and voice and has learned to play the violin proficiently! He has pulled his grades up significantly as well.This year, so far, he has all A and B grades!! He is driven in his music and is looking forward to studying music in college. I am very proud of him!!

This is the "Ways You Can Help" part
  •     Attend the 2011 Music For the Soul Gala concert with Blues Traveler!
  •     Donate $$, time, blog posts, instruments, musical instruction, in-kind services…
  •     Let all your friends know
  •     Think of ways you can partner for concerts, etc.
  •     Comp tickets for the KING kids for your concerts, shows, etc.
  •     Collaborate with other kids' groups
  •      Include info in newsletters
  •     Spread the word about KING
Will Taylor's brilliant benefit concert and violin burning for the group met with great success. To celebrate, Will and friends hosted a BBQ for the KING kids in his backyard. They continue to support KING by setting up a project info table at every gig. How cool is that? Pretty damn good modeling, I’d say. Thanks to Will, AT&T, and many other dedicated folks and sponsors, KING is beginning to catch fire, and deservedly so.
My small contribution is this very tardy blog post. I really want you to see for yourself how necessary music is to heal the souls and hearts of these forgotten children.

The Really Awesome Bottom Line...
KING is making a difference. And you can help.
Alternately, Kids in a New Groove offers a decidedly more promising path by providing private music lessons to youth in foster care. All of their most recent high school graduates went on to college this fall, demonstrating that they are truly making a difference. The November fundraiser will allow them to sustain and extend their programs throughout the state.
Kids in a New Groove’s unique music mentoring programs have a proven track record of helping these youth improve grades, behavior, and overall life skills. Lessons become a lifeline as teachers move with foster youth between placements, giving these youth a chance to trust and develop lasting relationships. (From the Gala press release)
  All photos courtesy Kids in a New Groove