Taking a break from his fast-paced touring schedule, soul artist Aloe Blacc recently spent time with a group of young, talented musicians as part of an enrichment program offered at the Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center (Los Angeles).
Blacc started off his visit by providing singing and songwriting lessons to a cluster of talented young singers. He later joined a separate group of keyboardists, percussionists, vocalists, and saxophone players who gathered to participate in a soulful jam session on board the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus.
Despite being pressed for time, and appearing to be in need of a good nap, Blacc generously shared his thoughts with EURweb regarding the effects of music on a child’s development.
“Music had a tremendous impact on my youth,” Blacc explained. “It allowed me to explore my creativity and expand my imagination. I used it to create my own story.”
“It’s [music] a great community activity. I make a personal effort to find and contribute to organizations that have a foot in the community where kids need resources that will help nurture their abilities and guide them down a path to success. Music is that source.”
As a non-profit entity, The Pullum Center offers quality arts instruction to under-served students in South Los Angeles, and participants are equipped with valuable tools to help them build self-esteem, develop civic responsibility, and excel in the classroom. The program has provided musical training to more than 650 children and young adults, explained Fernando Pullum, who keeps the center’s doors open by collecting donations from various supporters within the community.
“It’s an environment where kids can hone their skills, or discover skills they never knew they had,” added Pullum. “This program, and others like it, are important because they provide structure and purpose to the lives of young people, and it keeps them off the streets. That’s very important to me.”
Despite his difficult childhood growing up on Chicago’s Westside, the city’s toughest neighborhood, Pullum earned his bachelor’s degree in music education and master’s in trumpet performance. He moved to Los Angeles in 1984 to follow his dream of becoming an educator and professional musician. In 2012, he established The Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center, and it has since earned the respect and admiration of several renowned instrumentalists and entertainers.
During the jam session, each participant was given an opportunity to perform in a state-of-the-art recording studio. Surrounded by a small fleet of photographers and journalists, the youngsters received approximately five minutes to display their talents. Naturally, playing in front of a celebrity provided the kids with added motivation to do their best.
“Music has been a good friend to me,” said Blacc as he watched a pint-sized, curly haired third-grader tune the strings of her guitar. “I couldn’t dream of a world without it.”