I grew up in New
Orleans where the music and culture are so rich that they become part
of your DNA. I tried to learn the guitar when I was about 12 or 13,
but had a really tough time. Instead, I learned to express the emotions
within the music as a tap dancer and ballerina for many, many years.
My son Sebastian is 23 now but when he was 6, I witnessed a powerful
demonstration of how music can heal. Back then he had a bad reaction
to a medication and came down with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a potentially
deadly skin disease that threatened his life. During the ordeal, his
skin burned until it was crispy black and the hospital staff covered
the mirrors in his room with sheets so he couldnt see his reflection.
I was told that 99 percent of people with his same condition die.
Sebastian was in the hospital for three months. During that time,
he received music therapy. I dont even know what they were playing;
I think it was a percussive rhythm, but they wouldnt let me
stay in his room, so I dont know all the details. The concept
of music therapy was new to me and yet I could see that it clearly
soothed my son, which helped him heal. Witnessing that firsthand,
I started learning everything I could about music therapy.
It was around this time that I met the legendary music producer Quincy
Jones. Back then, he had just bought the TV station where I was working.
Oftentimes, a new incoming station owner would fire the general manager
and bring in his own person, but he asked me to stay on.
I didnt know that much about Q before he became the owner. In
those days, we didnt have the Internet, so I sent my assistant
to the library to get some background information on him. She had
to scroll through lots of microfiche. I had no idea that Q had scored
50-plus movies, won tons of Grammy Awards and worked with countless
music superstars. He had also accomplished a great deal as a trumpeter
until an aneurysm left him unable to play.
Meeting Q, I noticed that he dripped love from his fingertips, that
he was charismatic and that he had a passion for life. For someone
of his stature to be so humble and so kind was unusual. I was eager
to be part of his team.
I ran his TV stations both in Atlanta and New Orleans for 11 years.
The one here in New Orleans was near the Iberville Projects, which
have since been torn down. As tough as that housing project was, I
remember Qs advice: Never underestimate the power of kind words
or a hug.
The parents in that place wanted so much for their children. They
would be in tears and say, Please help me do something. Please
help me create a safe Halloween for my kids. Through our TV
stations we did everything we could to highlight the kids who were
doing remarkable things. We reached out to them and I always felt
Qs compassion for them.
Nineteen years after we first met, Q asked me to come back and run
his foundation, the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium (QJMC). I saw it
as an amazing opportunity to bring people and administrators in music
education under the Q tent. We started off working with just four
cities: Los Angeles, Boston, New York and New Orleans. We now have
partners all over the country, connecting the dots through music.
We get people to collaborate, share resources, innovations and ideas.
Were introducing them to potential funders. We put together
two summits a year, bringing the best and brightest people together
to learn from one another.
Some live in the same city and have never collaborated or even met.
Now theyre sharing resources, programming opportunities, rehearsal
space and programmatic concepts. A person in LA is now working with
the University of Miami and someone in New Jersey is working with
people in Dallas and Syracuse. Representing the Quincy Jones brand
allows me to enter any door and ask for assistance.
One of the people we connected with in New Orleans is Derrick Tabb,
the drummer from the renowned Rebirth Brass Band. Hes taken
kids from around our city who are up against the harshest circumstances
and brought them together. He recruited a college student to help
the youth with their homework and improve their grades, while enrolling
them in intense music education at the historic Cabildo, a museum
in Jackson Square. Its a grand building that used to be the
seat of power in New Orleans until the mid-1800s. Now Derrick uses
it as a rehearsal and performance space.
The kids stand in line in the courtyard and Derrick, this big beautiful
black man, has them repeat after him as he shouts: The roots
of music make me strong! The roots of music give me integrity! The
roots of music give me hope! And so on and so on. Everyone Ive
brought to see it reaches for a tissue and a check at the same time.
Derricks not just teaching high-level music education, hes
saving lives. Kids are in his classes instead of getting into something
that could hurt or kill them, or get them trapped behind bars. Some
of the youth come from abusive homes, but when their parents attend
their childrens concerts and they see the beauty their kids
create with music, it makes them back off. For everyone involved,
the experience creates more peace and joy.
Qs vision from the start was to give something back to New Orleans,
the city that has given the world some of its greatest musicians:
legends like Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Buddy Bolden and
Wynton Marsalis, as well as one of the worlds greatest art forms,
Were also reaching out to other cities through QJMC. Theres
Little Kids Rock in New Jersey; Berklee City Music in Boston; and
Harmony Project in South Los Angeles. We now have affiliate programs
in cities around the country. We work with more than 175 community
and organizational leaders in 35 cities across the United States to
transform childrens lives through the gift of music education.
If we could just bring every government and school official, every
possible funder and have them sit in on these classes in the poorest
and most underserved areas for just 20 minutes, they would see the
difference in the hope and joy that this experience inspires and I
dont think wed be in the situation that were in
now in terms of losing arts education.
One of our partners in QJMC is the former chief executive officer
of the Guitar Center. Were creating a ninja force of inspiring
music teachers. A great music teacher can make a student so excited
that they play like their hairs on fire.
The power of music can move you from your world into another universe.
If you need energy, it can give you energy. If you need peace, it
can give you peace. If you need love, it gives you love. It has an
effect on your body, mind and soul. Ive seen it in the life
of my son and in children who have nothing but misery in their lives.
Its such a shame to see that so many educators and administrators
dont understand that. They focus on math and science while,
as a nation, were rapidly losing our creative edge.
In the days when Q worked consistently as a music producer, he had
a sign posted on the studio that read, Leave your ego at the
door. He leads by example, leaving his own ego by the door.
Its been an honor and a pleasure to come back to help him. Music
saved his life when his dad moved the family from a tough neighborhood
in Chicago to Seattle. When young Quincy put his hands on the piano
keys for the first time, it was a pivotal moment. Then he met the
incomparable Ray Charles and the rest is musical history.
Now, through the QJMC, we want to make sure every American child knows
their musical roots. When Q and his generation of musicians pass on,
they want to make sure that all the great music this country has created
is remembered, treasured and passed on.
by Madelyn Bonnot Griffin
a Free Digi Issue and read the full magazine, and see all of the photos,
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from the Andy
Derek Paravicini Hes Got the Keys to the World
Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi
China Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles
ANDY Music + Charity
= Millions of Fans
Team Quincy Jones Spreading Musics Roots
An Accessible Fun-der-land
Accountability Employing People with Disabilities
in the Andy Madadian Issue; Senator Harkin The Deaf President
Movemen; Ashley Fiolek From Pigging Out to Nutrition Classes;
Humor Part II of the Greek Geek Adventure; Candida
The Hands She Was Dealt; Derek Paravicini Hes
Got the Keys to the World; Geri Jewell Next Exit, Joy; Seizure
Dog She Nose When; Long Haul Paul What the Farkle?;
China Wang Kun Overcoming Obstacles for Art; Sharjahs
Sheikha Jameela bint Mohammed Al Qasimi; Accountability
Employing People with Disabilities; ANDY Music + Charity =
Millions of Fans; QJMC Team Quincy Jones Spreading Musics
Roots; Morgans Wonderland An Accessible Fun-der-land;
DRLC The Blame Game in Gun Control ; ABILITY's Crossword Puzzle;
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