City Recognizes Children of Willie Stewart's Rhythms of Africa Show

FORT LAUDERDALE (March 15, 2012) – The City of Lauderdale Lakes recognized the student performers of Lauderdale Lakes Educational Complex with an Award of Appreciation for their cultural contributions to the community through the Rhythms of Africa : Music Around the World performance, which took place October 15, 2011 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

The award, presented during Black History month, by the city’s Mayor, Barrington Russell and Commissioners, highlighted the importance of diversity and cultural celebration. Mayor Russell, who attended the sold out performance in October 2011, recalled the stirring performance of the students and performers, and encouraged the children to stay involved in music, a positive and educational activity.

Rhythms of Africa: Music Around the World was presented by Willie Stewart’s Embrace Music Foundation. The concert featured at-risk youth from Lauderdale Lakes Educational Complex’s Smart School Charter Middle and Eagle Charter Academy who gained inspiration and confidence working alongside more than a dozen professional musicians. This free concert described the movement of ancient rhythms sprung from the souls of vibrant cultures and carried from Africa to the Caribbean, South America and the New World. Under the direction of Willie Stewart, who played percussion for 23 years with the legendary band Third World, the theatrical, inspirational and educational production united the entire community in a stirring celebration of music alongside 30 musicians.

Willie believes in sharing the power of the Arts with children and which allows them to discover who they are and how they impact the world in which they live. Willie notes, “I have seen many times how children’s lives are changed, turned around for the good, when they’re given a chance. It isn’t me, it’s the music. Only music can do this.” Sixty students, ages 13- 16, underwent 6 weeks of rigorous world class instruction provided by Willie at no cost, as a part of the educational complex’s afterschool program.

This project received The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge Grant of $25,000 in November 2010 and the support of kind sponsors including the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson P.A, MoneyGram, Law Office of Shapiro, Fishman & Gache, Grace Foods USA, Bank Atlantic, City of Fort Lauderdale, Steady Image, Inc. Seaboard Marine, Air Jamaica (Caribbean Airlines), National Endowment for the Arts, Broward Cultural Division, Jamaica Tourist Board and many other generous donors.

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The show was presented by the Embrace Music Foundation, whose mission is to restore, preserve, and fortify the impact of music — education, appreciation, and performance — in schools and communities, and to amplify its role in the development of children and families.

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