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Vallejo Holiday Concert Features Vocalist DeAnne Brewer, Bassist Tony Saunders

DeAnne Brewer’s schedule is usually filled with singing functions in the Bay Area at churches, weddings, banquets, conventions or other civic events. However, in the current pandemic era, Brewer takes no performance opportunity for granted and while reflecting, gives thanks for her musical journey.

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DeAnne Brewer and Tony Saunders. Facebook photos.
DeAnne Brewer and Tony Saunders. Facebook photos.

By Carla Thomas

“It’s That Time Again,” a gospel and smooth jazz concert will be held at the Empress Theater in Vallejo on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

DeAnne Brewer, a singer/songwriter and pianist will be joined by Emmy Award-winning bassist, composer and producer, Tony Saunders, keyboardist Gail Johnson, and jazz saxophonist and flutist, Paula Atherton.

“Guests should be prepared to hear Christmas songs meant to inspire and uplift our spirits,” Brewer said.

Brewer’s schedule is usually filled with singing functions in the Bay Area at churches, weddings, banquets, conventions or other civic events. However, in the current pandemic era, Brewer takes no performance opportunity for granted and while reflecting, gives thanks for her musical journey.

As a child, Brewer performed for her family and family events. The daughter of a minister father and educator mother, Brewer was encouraged to pursue her musical endeavors. Growing up in New York, Virginia, Ohio, Louisiana and California, Brewer continued to develop her musical abilities as a singer and songwriter in the making. In Ohio, Brewer learned from fellow classmates Lawanda Maupin and Mark Gordon who were part of the group Levert.

After obtaining a degree in communications, Brewer explored the world of broadcasting and studied music with more opportunities to sing with Mark Kibble, Claude McKnight and Mervyn Warren of Take 6.

As a gospel radio host in New Orleans even more doors opened for her to sing with BASIC, The Raymond Myles Singers, The Moses Hogan Chorale, Word of Comfort, and the Brewer Sisters.

“It’s also been an honor to share the stage with gospel icons Tramaine Hawkins, Bebe and CeCe Winans, Daryl Coley, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Donald Lawrence, and Tonex,” said Brewer. “I’ve enjoyed performing with mainstream artists Howard Hewitt, Miki Howard, Levert and the O’Jays.” Having performed in the Bahamas, Canada, and Italy, Brewer says she wants to see the world healed one song at a time.

Bassist, producer, and son of the legendary Bay Area keyboardist Merl Saunders, Tony Saunders says guests at the upcoming concert are “in for a treat. This pandemic has really challenged us in the music world, but we will continue to produce great music and performances to wow our audiences.”

Saunders’ life has been infused with one musical adventure after another. At 14, he earned the first of his two Emmy’s for collaborating with his dad on the PBS documentary “Soul Is” and by 17, he was playing with Merl and the late Jerry Garcia on their collaborative projects. The second Emmy was earned for his contribution on the TV show, “Digital Journey,” in the episode on China’s new digital economy.

Though he took one of his first musical lessons on piano from Herbie Hancock, the bass he received from John Fogerty’s brother Tom — and watching recording sessions with famed bassists Anthony Davis and Lee Miles — greatly influenced him. Saunders is now a major force in contemporary jazz. “The bass seemed to spark a lifelong passion,” Saunders said. “I have now romanced my bass guitar for 50 years and [I’m] loving every minute of it.”

For tickets, visit: www.TicketFairy.com

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Art

Terrance Kelly, Brother Ben Lead Creative Arts Classes for Elders at West Oakland Senior Center

The Emmy Award-winning conductor and choir director Terrance Kelly leads a special choir class focused on gospel, jazz, blues and world music alongside Paul Daniels of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the St. Columba Church.

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Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, leads “Straight Outta Oakland,” one of the new classes offered by Stagebridge and held at the West Oakland Senior Center. Photo courtesy of Stagebridge
Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, leads “Straight Outta Oakland,” one of the new classes offered by Stagebridge and held at the West Oakland Senior Center. Photo courtesy of Stagebridge

By Julius Rea

Stagebridge and the West Oakland Senior Center have partnered to offer two incredible classes to be held at the West Oakland Senior Center (WOSC), starting this month. Created for elders, these opportunities will bring out the joy in celebrating Black culture and Oakland history.

The Emmy Award-winning conductor and choir director Terrance Kelly leads a special choir class focused on gospel, jazz, blues and world music alongside Paul Daniels of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and the St. Columba Church.

Inviting both introductory singers and experienced vocalists, “The Community’s Choir” offers a special chance to work with these two Oakland-based musical voices. Also, students are not required to learn to read sheet music. This class will be held Fridays, 1 – 2 p.m. at WOSC.

In 2005, Kelly received the Local Heroes Award from KQED Television for his directorship of the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir and was also honored at the Gospel Music Awards. In 2013, he was awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award. He currently serves as Minister of Magnification at Oakland’s Imani Community Church.

Ben Tucker, a.k.a. Brother Ben, will teach “Straight Outta Oakland,” a class inspired by the history and culture of West Oakland. He will lead students in developing a showcase of five-minute stories. Focused on telling personal narratives in a clear, concise manner, this class will be a bridge to mapping and crafting one-of-a-kind journeys. The class will be held Tuesdays, 1 – 2 p.m. at WOSC at 1724 Adeline St., Oakland, CA 94607.

A retired University of California administrator, Tucker has been a community-focused storyteller for several years while taking classes at Stagebridge. He has performed at the San Francisco and Berkeley Marsh Theaters, Oakland Main and San Francisco Bayview libraries, and many senior centers and schools. Brother Ben is also a singer and author.

Students who are registered members of the West Oakland Senior Center will be offered the classes for free. Those who are not members can register today at www.stagebridge.org. For more information on these classes, call the West Oakland Senior Center directly at (510) 238-7016.

Julius Rea is the director of marketing and communications for Stagebridge.

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Activism

Giving Machines Come to Oakland’s Temple Hill in ‘Light the World With Love’ Event

The Giving Machines are vending machines that, rather than dispensing drinks or potato chips, dispense love, hope and support to those in need. Three Giving Machines are available at Oakland Temple Hill through Jan. 3. These machines allow all to purchase a gift for one of six humanitarian organizations. Simply pick a particular gift such as a chicken for a family overseas or warm clothing for a local need, then use a debit or credit card to pay for the tax-deductible charitable donation.

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From left to right, Elder Jay D. Pimentel and Elder Steven C. Merrell of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Linda Ashcraft Hudak, CEO of George Mark Children’s House; Candace K. Andersen, Contra Costa County Supervisor and MC of the launch event; S.F. 49ers offensive tackle Corbin Kaufusi; daughter of Sheng Thao with Sheng Thao, Oakland’s District 4 Councilmember; Bobby Miller, director of Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program; Christine Dillman, associate director of Tri-Valley Haven; ECAP founder Nellie Hannon; and Bruce Bird of JustServe. Photo by Kourtney Jex Jarvis.
From left to right, Elder Jay D. Pimentel and Elder Steven C. Merrell of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Linda Ashcraft Hudak, CEO of George Mark Children’s House; Candace K. Andersen, Contra Costa County Supervisor and MC of the launch event; S.F. 49ers offensive tackle Corbin Kaufusi; daughter of Sheng Thao with Sheng Thao, Oakland’s District 4 Councilmember; Bobby Miller, director of Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program; Christine Dillman, associate director of Tri-Valley Haven; ECAP founder Nellie Hannon; and Bruce Bird of JustServe. Photo by Kourtney Jex Jarvis.

By Post Staff

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Oakland City Council President Sheng Thao and Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor President Candace Andersen were joined by San Francisco 49er offensive lineman Corbin Kafusi to launch Giving Machines on Oakland Temple Hill.

The Giving Machines are vending machines that, rather than dispensing drinks or potato chips, dispense love, hope and support to those in need. Three Giving Machines are available at Oakland Temple Hill through Jan. 3.

These machines allow all to purchase a gift for one of six humanitarian organizations. Simply pick a particular gift such as a chicken for a family overseas or warm clothing for a local need, then use a debit or credit card to pay for the tax-deductible charitable donation.

Participating nonprofits include three local and three global organizations. Tri-Valley Haven, the George Mark Children’s House (George Mark) and Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP) serve adults and children in the Bay Area while UNICEF, Church World Service (CWS Global) and Water Aid address humanitarian crises around the world.

Councilmember Thao told those assembled, “It truly allows for thousands of people to come and actually touch the lives of so many people around the world.” She and her daughter helped heft the huge scissors to cut the ribbon.

All administrative costs of the machines, from construction to installation to operation and even the credit card fees are covered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. “100% of all donations collected will be delivered to the nonprofits displayed in the Giving Machines,” Jay Pimentel, a spokesman for the Church, said.

The annual Temple Hill Christmas Lights and Days of Christmas Concert Series run concurrently with the Giving Machines. The Lights, Concerts and Giving Machines are all part of the Church’s 2021 worldwide campaign to Light the World with Love. Oakland Temple Hill is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., 4780 Lincoln Avenue in Oakland. All are invited to come and enjoy the decorated grounds and to see if there are charities in the Giving Machines they would like to support.

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Activism

‘Chapter 510’ Opens Youth Writing and Publishing Center in Swan’s Market

Located in the heart of Swan’s Market, the center’s walls and ceilings are covered with bold painted letters and designs. Chapter 510 also has a retail store where you can purchase a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words, ‘Poetry is Power,’ in addition to beautifully designed books, posters, and notebooks.

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The entrance of Chapter 510's new space in Swan's Market in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Chapter 510.
The entrance of Chapter 510's new space in Swan's Market in Oakland. Photo courtesy of Chapter 510.

By Irena Knight

There was a celebration last weekend at 546 9th St., Chapter 510’s new home. Also known as the Dept. of Make Believe, the space offers free writing workshops, bookmaking, and publishing opportunities for young people of color.

Located in the heart of Swan’s Market, the center’s walls and ceilings are covered with bold painted letters and designs. Chapter 510 also has a retail store where you can purchase a sweatshirt emblazoned with the words, ‘Poetry is Power,’ in addition to beautifully designed books, posters, and notebooks.

During the pandemic, Chapter 510, like many others, conducted online classes. Chapter 510’s teaching artists currently conduct programs at several Oakland schools including Franklin Elementary, Westlake Middle, MetWest High School and more.

In 2013, Janet Heller founded the center with Tavia Stewart to provide space for Black, Brown and queer youth to write and share their stories. The new space will allow Chapter 510 to expand their current programs, and in the future, offer podcasting and bookmaking.

At their opening weekend, Heller said, “Students of color need a space emotionally and physically where they can be supported by adults of color to write, edit, and publish.”

She emphasized that such a space has to be beautiful: “Light, air, and color is essential for creativity.”

The organization’s budget for 2021/ 2022 is $850,000 and the goal, according to their website, is to grow to $1.2 million by 2022/2023. To date, the center has raised $1.1 million. Heller said the center is supported by government, foundation, and institutional giving.

Think about buying your holiday gifts at the center’s retail store and supporting programs for youth of color. For more information, go to www.chapter510.org or call (510) 469-0108.

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