Public Advocate with Shirley Graves

Narada Michael Walden, Merry Alberigi, and Kara Connors speak with Shirley Graves on Novato Community TV Channel 26

Narada Michael Walden presents:“Let the Sunshine In”, a benefit concert

 


Sting headlines benefit concert

For the past seven years, Marin Grammy winner Narada Michael Walden has been music director of Sting’s annual Rainforest Foundation benefit concert at Carnegie Hall in New York. Now Sting is repaying the favor.

Sting headlines a Memorial Day benefit concert at Davies Symphony Hall for Christopher Rodriguez, the 12-year-old Oakland boy who was shot by a stray bullet and paralyzed from the waist down while taking piano lessons last year. The show also will raise funds for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music scholarship fund.

Presented by the Narada Michael Walden Foundation, the “Let the Sunshine In” concert also features the Dead’s Bob Weir, the Supremes’ Mary Wilson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. of the Fifth Dimension, David Grisman, Earl Klugh, Shanice Wilson and a host of local stars.

The performers will be accompanied by an orchestra of students from the San Francisco Conservatory, under the direction of faculty member Michael Morgan, who is also music director of the Oakland East Bay Symphony.

“Our foundation wants to help children with music especially, so this was right up our alley,” Walden said, referring to the Christopher Rodriguez tragedy. “I already did one benefit at Yoshi’s for Christopher, but now I want to do the big one. And this is the big one.”

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Narada Michael Walden Lets the Sunshine In

Brace yourself, San Francisco. It’s been a long time since our city has seen this many showstoppers together in one room. The lineup for Memorial Day’s Let the Sunshine In benefit concert reads like a who’s who of the music industry—StingBob Weir, The Supremes’ Mary Wilson, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. of The Fifth Dimension, Earl Klugh, David Grisman, Shanice Wilson, Tevin Campbell, Lisa Fisher, Jeanie Tracy, Ralphe Armstrong, Dale “Satchmo” Powers, the Narada Michael Walden Band and many more. 

A tribute to Christopher Rodriguez (the boy who was paralyzed from the waist down after being hit by a stray bullet while at a piano lesson in Oakland), this special show supporting the SF Conservatory of Music’s scholarship fund and other Bay Area music education programs is all thanks to one very talented man—the legendary producer and musician, Narada Michael Walden

We sat down with the Grammy and Emmy Award winner after a free preview concert in Justin Herman Plaza to talk about queens, causes and the upcoming concert. 

I hear you’re sometimes referred to as “Mozart” Walden. How do you live out this lofty title? 
Oh honey, that’s just something a very dear friend of mine once said. We all have a gift and God’s faith … we just pray that we can make our dreams come true. 

You’ve worked with some of the hottest names in the industry—from Aretha to Mariah—what made them choose you as their producer? 
It started when Clive Davis asked me if I wanted to work with Dionne Warwick. And then he asked me about Aretha. So I called Aretha. And then Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Jeff Beck, Whitney Houston, Mariah. It’s all about the stories. I listen to them talk and we make music out of their stories. All those great divas—they come on strong to you and you really just have to back down and open yourself to them. Give ‘em whatever they need—a massage, flowers, time. All this to get the hit.

Who’s the biggest diva of them all? 
There is a queen … Aretha. Queen of soul. She became the best because she broke the mold and walked both sides of soul. 

You’ve won multliple Grammys and have been named one of the Top 10 Producers of all time. Now you’re focusing on your own music. What made you move from behind the scenes to the front line?
Since 1976, I’ve made about 11, 12 solo albums, but you know, they weren’t as big as the other people so I just tried to keep a balance between my own music and the work I was producing. 

It’s not just about fame for you. Your musical agenda stretches into philanthropy as well. Tell me about your foundation.
I never felt famous. To me, Sting is famous. For me, it’s all about giving back and keeping music alive for generations to come. That’s what the foundation is all about.  

What made you want to do this show for a boy in Oakland?
The story of what happened to Chris just stuck with me. I’m dead set against the violence that we’re allowing in this country. What happened to Chris is so unfortunate. He was doing a good thing and I want to support that.

Tell us what to expect from the show.

A lovefest. That’s why all these great names in music are coming out for this. It’s about the love, trust and favors for friends. They know it will always be classy when we work together. We brought in the SF Conservatory. They’re hurting and I wanted to help and I thought how wonderful it would be to bring in these aspiring musicians and have them play right next to the classics. It’s the chance of a lifetime for them.

What’s next?

Carlos Santana. We have a trio called the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and we’re making a three-cd set. The Father, which is more majestic, the Son, which is more adventurous and the Holy Ghost, which is about the woman—sensual and sexual.

You’re originally from Michigan. What drew you to settle in our fair city?
The rarified air. I heard that there was magic in the air here in San Francisco …

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Concert held for kid shot at piano lessons

SAN FRANCISCO — The musician Sting headlines a concert next week in San Francisco that will benefit a young boy who was the victim of a senseless crime. The concert is being put together by award-winning musician and producer Narada Michael Walden, who’s from the Bay Area.

The hit “Freeway of Love,” written by Marin’s Narada Michael Walden. He’s the platinum album producer of Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, more. He has just formed a new band with Carlos Santana. He’s also writing a symphony and his autobiography. On Wednesday there was a preview of Monday’s concert for Christopher Rodriguez.

“Being 11-years-old, taking your piano lesson, and you’re paralyzed by a stray bullet. It touched all of our hearts,” says Walden.

Christopher Rodriguez was sitting at a piano when the bullet struck him. Narada is a big supporter of music education. The concert is called “Let the Sunshine In.” The stars and this band meant to inspire compassion for young musicians.

“Helpfully they’re inspired to take it further. Music helps with every part of our lives — our hearts, our minds, our souls, all of us,” says Walden.

He’s lined up a showcase of performers, Fifth Dimension, Mary Wilson, Earl Klugh, Bob Weir and Sting. Walden flew to Italy to ask Sting to do the show.

The show also raises scholarships for the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Two students sat in on the band on Wednesday. Minna Choi, a student, has created her own orchestra and says music is like playing a game.

“It’s like a nerdy way of playing basketball for people who don’t know how to play sports. You just get a bunch of people together and play together,” says Choi.

Philip Brezina, a Conservatory student, doesn’t look like your typical violin player.

“I’m a soccer player at heart. You can’t let playing violin hold you back. A lot of people don’t want to hurt their hands and stuff like that. That’s no good,” says Brezina.

They’re stoked for Monday’s event at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, which Narada calls a celebration.

www.naradamichaelwalden.com

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Let the Sunshine In benefits shooting victim

Narada Michael Walden has a simple reason for organizing an all-star benefit concert for Christopher Rodriguez, the 12-year-old Oakland boy who was paralyzed from the waist down after a stray bullet struck him during a piano lesson near his home last year. “I like doing good,” said the Grammy-winning producer at his San Rafael studio, Tarpan.

Best known for his work with the likes of Whitney Houston and Aretha Franklin, Walden said meeting the Rodriguez family at an earlier benefit concert at Yoshi’s inspired not only a friendship with Christopher but also the desire to do more. “Him being a musician, trying to do the right thing,” Walden said. “My heart went out to it.”

On Monday, the Narada Michael Walden Foundation will present Let the Sunshine In at Davies Symphony Hall, an event that features performances by Sting, Bob Weir, the Supremes‘ Mary WilsonMarilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. of the Fifth Dimension, and several other well-known and up-and-coming musicians. Proceeds also benefit theSan Francisco Conservatory of Music, whose students will accompany some of the headliners.

Sting, who has hosted Walden at seven Rainforest Foundation Benefit concerts in New York, said he didn’t hesitate to sign on. “It is our hope and desire to see everyone there for a resounding heartfelt evening of community spirit for one of our own,” the singer said. “It is my wish that we stand strong for gun control so that these tragic accidents do not continue to happen in our future.”

Walden just hopes the evening brings a little light to Christopher. “I hope he gets inspiration and a boatload of new supporters and friendship to help him through his life,” he said.

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