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From Soprano to Bass: An OIGC Intern's Journey

Hello! My name is Dan Ankenman, and it is my great honor and blessing to be serving as an intern for OIGC this summer. I just finished my junior year at Brigham Young University where I am studying Commercial Music. OIGC has opened my heart and mind and given me so many opportunities to grow and reach out to others. I am elated to help OIGC and its members in any way I can as they seek both to attain musical excellence and their timely and overarching mission of unity in diversity. 

 Dan on a trip to New Orleans earlier this summer.

Dan on a trip to New Orleans earlier this summer.

My association with OIGC began over 10 years ago when I joined what was then the Oakland Interfaith Youth Gospel Choir. It was life changing for me as a young teenager to see the power our music had to touch those around us and to unify us so completely in the common purpose of bringing light and joy. Our differences in terms of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation or any other quality that might have otherwise separated us instead only increased the power of the message we brought of rejoicing in our common humanity and the power of love between people. I have seen that this pure love and power to profoundly impact communities for good is the very heart and soul of OIGC. I am deeply indebted and grateful to Terrance Kelly, not only for helping me to transition from my beginnings in the choir as a preadolescent soprano to now being a bass but for helping me see how music can bring love, peace, and understanding whenever and wherever the parties are willing. 

 Dan performing with the Oakland Interfaith Youth Gospel Choir

Dan performing with the Oakland Interfaith Youth Gospel Choir

 The OIYGC Tenor section

The OIYGC Tenor section

This internship has come at a very special time for me. It was wonderful to serve as a production assistant for OIGC’s concerts with the phenomenal Norwegian Choir SKRUK. This was a meeting of two worlds for me in a unique way as I lived in Norway for two years serving as a missionary for the LDS church after graduating from high school. These concerts showcased an eclectic set of hymns and spiritual music. The versatility and virtuosity of both choirs was astounding, but what stood out to me was what I felt as I saw dozens of people who many may see as different be united in song. 

I am excited for the opportunities that are in store for OIGC and for me throughout the rest of the summer. With the bulk of the summer performance and rehearsal schedule behind us, I will continue to hold regular hours at OIGC’s offices where I will assist with day-to-day operations as well as with cataloging the choir’s repertoire. I am grateful to be able to help OIGC in accomplishing its mission of making a joyful noise and bringing people together in love. My love and best wishes to all of you. 

Dan

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Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Community Engagement Program Awarded California Arts Council “Local Impact” Grant

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Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Community Engagement Program Awarded California Arts Council “Local Impact” Grant

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir's Community Engagement Program Awarded California Arts Council “Local Impact” Grant

State funds support arts projects in California’s historically marginalized communities

The California Arts Council announced its plans to award $16,200 to the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir as part of its Local Impact program.

The Local Impact program provides support for community-driven arts project for small and mid-sized arts organizations. The program fosters equity, access, and opportunity for historically marginalized communities by cultivating community participation in art making, learning, and exposure.

Projects provide access to arts participation and representation of and by the community identified in the application. Historically marginalized communities include specific ethnic and tribal groups, LGBTQ+, individuals with disabilities, low-income and rural communities, and immigrant and refugee communities.

OIGC typically performs more than thirty times each year, delivering a musical experience to institutionalized and underserved audiences at venues such as the Mercy Retirement Home and the Crossroads Homeless Shelter; serving the general public with free admission events such as the City Center Holiday Concert and Oakland Tree Lighting; and appearing at most major Oakland events, like the annual Art & Soul Festival.

The Choir remains on call for the community in times of need and assists other nonprofit organizations through performances at events such as the Break Bread Concert with Oakland East Bay Symphony, Living Jazz’s MLK Jr. Tribute at Oakland’s Scottish Rite Center, and Allen Temple AIDS Ministry. OIGC has performed at benefits for the Jewish Music Festival, Black History Month events, and the Alameda County Food Bank.

OIGC is one of 133 grantees across California chosen for the Local Impact program. The award was featured as part of a larger announcement from the California Arts Council.

“The Local Impact grant program strikes at the heart of the issue of access and equity in the arts,” said Nashormeh Lindo, California Arts Council. “OIGC’s project is crucial to help arts and culture opportunities reach California’s marginalized communities, and to promote the unique creative expressions within that community.”

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To view a complete listing of all Local Impact grantees, visit http://arts.ca.gov/programs/files/FY1718_ProjectDescriptions_LI.pdf.

 

About CA Arts:

The mission of the California Arts Council, a state agency, is to advance California through the arts and creativity. The Council is committed to building public will and resources for the arts; fostering accessible arts initiatives that reflect contributions from all of California's diverse populations; serving as a thought leader and champion for the arts; and providing effective and relevant programs and services.

Members of the California Arts Council include: Chair Nashormeh Lindo, Vice Chair Larry Baza, Phoebe Beasley, Christopher Coppola, Juan Devis, Kathleen Gallegos, Jaime Galli, Donn K. Harris, Louise McGuinness, Steven Oliver, and Rosalind Wyman. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov.

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OIGC and SKRUK: "Roots from the West"

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir joins Norwegian Choir SKRUK for a four-concert West Coast tour:

“Roots from the West"

The unexpected partnership between Bay Area’s own Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, and SKRUK, hailing from Norway, came to life in 2015 at the Molde International Jazz Festival.

SKRUK, founded in 1973, consists of 50 singers from all parts of Norway. Its members meet four to five times a year and boast a varied repertoire, influenced by Norwegian folk music, spirituals, world music, and jazz. The choir has released more than 20 records and has performed on several continents.

This synergistic collaboration, under the name "Røtter" (meaning: "Roots"), is based around the fact that despite cultural differences in upbringing, culture, and behavior between the American and Norwegian west-coasts, we have common spiritual roots.

As the collaboration culminates in a week-long tour, audiences can expect to experience OIGC’s exquisite harmonies and stirring gospel repertoire alongside SKRUK’s groundbreaking and award-winning Scandinavian choral music.

The concerts will alternate between the choirs singing individually and together. The last is set to be a truly exciting unison. As SKRUK’s founding director of over 40 years, Per Oddvar Hildre (known as Prots) says, the collaboration is "a new musical latte". Whatever your taste, this "latte" is something that all audiences can enjoy.

 

Use code OIGCNEWS for $3 off tickets!

Code valid only through Thursday June 14th

CONCERT DATES:

Saturday - June 30 - 7pm
Lesher Center for the Arts
1601 Civic Drive
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

Sunday - July 1 - 4pm
Allen Temple Baptist Church
8501 International Blvd.
Oakland, CA 94621

Monday - July 2 - 7pm
Arts Under the Spire
First Presbyterian Church
2619 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

Tuesday - July 3 - 6pm and 8pm
Napa Methodist Church
625 Randolph Street
Napa, CA 94559

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OIYC Senior, Saaniyah Tomlinson: An Essay

 The Tomlinson family from left: OIYC alum Aliah, mother Leatrice, Saaniyah, and OIYC member Niara 

The Tomlinson family from left: OIYC alum Aliah, mother Leatrice, Saaniyah, and OIYC member Niara 

Growing up, my Mom gave us two jobs: be a good student and be a good person. She worked her jobs and took care of us so that we could do our "jobs" and grow up to take care of ourselves and others. College has always been in my future, but so is service to the people. I like to learn and I am excited to be in a place where I can explore and grow. I want to major in Political Science so I help be an advocate for those without power. In these times of political turmoil, it is important to have advocates on Capitol hill, state government, and local government. With a college education, I will be better equipped to teach others and uplift my community.

Three personal attributes that will aid in achieving these goals are: knowing how to build relationships, having initiative, and knowing how to ask for help. I’m proud of the choices I’ve made in keeping good friends, losing bad ones, and being a team player. I can figure out how to work with people to get projects done and to create a strong support system while I am away from home.

Initiative will help me be proactive with assignments. I had to develop this skill by learning the hard way in 9th grade. Older friends have told me how hard college work is when you wait to prepare for a test or write a paper. Knowing how to start early and get things done will help me succeed.

As much as I think I am prepared for college, I know that there will be times that I need help. I used to think that asking for help meant that I wasn’t as good as other people. Now I know that everybody has something they need help with. I know how to ask for help when I need it.

Half of my life has been a part of OIGC and OIYC. First my mother made me attend [OIGC] concerts, then I attended my sister’s [OIYC] rehearsals, then I became a member. Although I started in OIYC because of mother, I stayed and grew up in OIYC because of me. OIYC has contributed to my growth and development of educational goals and my identity as a whole.

When I was 11, I was shy (around people I did not know), nervous in front of crowds, and not always confident. In OIYC, I was pushed to go outside of my comfort zone even though it frightened me. I learned to be comfortable in front of hundreds of people, whether I was singing a solo or hosting a concert. I learned how to push myself, which translated to how I dealt with school and life in general.

 Saaniyah directing the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir to sing for their hosts during their trip to Hawaii (Feb 2017)

Saaniyah directing the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir to sing for their hosts during their trip to Hawaii (Feb 2017)

The biggest way OIYC contributed to my growth is teaching me how to be a leader. When my [older] sister left the choir, it felt like we had lost our ringleader. She was the one who took over when Terrance wasn’t there and helped us with our singing. When she went off to college, there was a hole left. I did not want to take her place. I did not want to become “Aliah #2”, but then I realized that me being a leader was not trying to be like my sister. Me being a leader was me being ME. I started to direct more, sing solos, host choir concerts and help fellow choir members. I took on the role that had been left behind, and this really taught me how to lead. It helped me give presentations at school. It taught me how to work with different personalities. It taught me how to get people quiet so that we can work on our music. Most importantly, it taught me how to be a good role model for the young kids around me.

OIYC has also helped me develop educationally, because it taught me how to sacrifice for the good of my growth. I have missed many parties and hangouts with friends because of choir. However, this isn’t all bad. I learned how to prioritize my commitment to my singing and my section that depends on me. This translated to my education because I learned how to prioritize getting work done over giving into the urges to go out when I had an important deadline.

OIYC also taught me how to push through hard times. When there were only 6-7 kids in the choir, I felt like there was no point in being there. But then, I would look at Terrance and see that if he was not going to give up on us, then I wouldn’t either. This perseverance has helped me reach my educational goals. There have been many times when I felt like I would never understand a math concept and wanted to give up, but I thought of that exact moment. I remembered that when things are tough, the only way to go is up. That perseverance was instilled in me though Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir, and I am forever grateful for those lessons.

 



OIYC Senior Sending and End of Year Concert

 

SATURDAY - JUNE 2 - 5pm
COST: FREE

Donations to Support the Youth Choir will be accepted

Imani Community Church
3300 MacArthur Blvd
Oakland, CA

Come celebrate our Graduates with us while listening to OIYC sing joyously. There will also be FANTASTIC food for purchase and a bake sale benefiting the Youth Choir.

Recipients of the Riley West Scholarship, available only to OIYC Youth, will be presented along with a bon voyage ceremony for our Seniors this year:

Saaniyah Tomlinson, Jacob Martin, and Victoria Smith.

 

 
I’m over the moon proud of Oakland Interfaith Choir youth and Alumni.

This Class of 2018 are attending:
Bethune Cookman University
Howard University
Skidmore

In addition, degrees received by previous alumni this year:
UNLV – Doctorate
San Diego State - Bachelor
UC Berkeley - Bachelor
UC Davis - Bachelor
USC - Bachelor
Harvard - Masters program enrollment
— Terrance Kelly
 

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OIGC Intern Blog Part III: A Fond Farewell

It’s hard to believe that my time as intern and administrative assistant with the organization is coming to a close. This summer felt too short to accomplish all of the projects I had planned for myself and to deepen the friendships with choir family members that I hoped to forge. Honestly, my only wish is that I could have stayed longer, learning new skills and spending more time getting to know individual members of this big, beautiful family.  

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OIGC Intern Blog Part I: Laying the Groundwork

Hi there! I’m Thea Miller, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I’m overjoyed to be serving OIGC as the organization’s first intern! I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work for and with OIGC this summer. I associate myself strongly with the organization’s mission; I believe in the power of music to bring many people together regardless of differences. I am excited to do my part to advance this mission over the summer, and to meet and learn from wonderful people along the way!

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WE ARE OAKLAND! - Briget Boyle

Photo Credit: Maria Long

Briget Boyle - Office Manager, OIGC

"Oakland is changing in a variety of ways. Some good and some not so good. I have enjoyed seeing artists and locals really stand up for the Oakland culture. I feel like Oakland Pride has become more palpable as new energy is coming into the city. This city is always surprising me. It is beautiful and gritty. It is very authentic and holds space for so many different kinds of people. I joined Kitka in Oakland, met my fiancé in Oakland. Got mugged in Oakland, made the best friend I could ask for in Oakland, had my album release show in Oakland, found my home in Oakland!"
#weareoakland #2016HolidayConcert #oaklandloveit
 #bartable #oigc

The OIGC 2016 Holiday Concert is on
Saturday, Dec 3, 7pm! http://www.oigc.org/holiday-concert/#weareoakland for more info

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WE ARE OAKLAND! - Heather Figueroa

Photo Credit: Isa S. Chu

Heather Figueroa - Soprano, Choir Council Co-President, Gospel Choir

#lifechangeroftheyear -- Ms. Figueroa's commitment to educating students, support of a positive atmosphere in her school, and leadership towards making education a meaningful, collaborative, everlasting experience for students make her a LifeChanger. High moral and ethical standards are embedded in her inclusive and unselfish work in the service of children.
read more at: https://lifechangeroftheyear.com/heather-figueroa/
#weareoakland #2016HolidayConcert #oaklandloveit
 #bartable #oigc

The OIGC 2016 Holiday Concert is on
Saturday, Dec 3, 7pm! http://www.oigc.org/holiday-concert/#weareoakland for more info

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We Are Oakland! Lisa Chow

Photo Credit: Maria Long

Lisa Chow - Alto, Community Choir

"Beside OIGC, Malonga Center for the Arts is one of my favorite organizations. This is a historic center for dance, especially of the African diaspora in the U.S. It reflects the diversity, the openness to all ages, races, ethnicities to learn to dance the various traditional dances from Africa and the African Diaspora. We are the only place in the U.S. that has such a wide scope with master dancers and musicians to teach us authentically from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, and the U.S."
#weareoakland #oaklandloveit #2016holidayconcert

The OIGC 2016 Holiday Concert is on
Saturday, Dec 3, 7pm! http://www.oigc.org/holiday-concert/#weareoakland for more info
 — with Lisa Chow.

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We are Oakland! Barbara Ann Davis

Photo Credit: Maria Long

Barbara Ann Davis - Alto, Gospel Choir

"I have so many wonderful memories of Oakland. You could go all over the city (safely) there were no territory restrictions, we swam at all the high school pools and just had a great time. In the summer time you could see kites flying all around the city. And, for July 4th it was so much fun to see entire families walking [to Lake Merritt] with picnic baskets in hand to lounge on the grass while the children played on the Octopus sculpture (still there) waiting for darkness to set and the firework to begin. Oakland was, and is still a beautiful city. The Jewel of the City, Lake Merritt still reigns, and the regal Paramount is still functioning as they did when I was a child. The beautiful Fox Theater was renovated (along with the Roxie Theater which now serve multiple business and educational endeavors. Obviously, I could go on and on and still have only covered the tip of the iceberg so I will stop here. Do I love Oakland? Obviously!"
#weareoakland #oaklandloveit #2016holidayconcert#oigc

The OIGC 2016 Holiday Concert is on
Saturday, Dec 3, 7pm! http://www.oigc.org/holiday-concert/#weareoakland for more info

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