Sunday, May 13, 2018

CMC to Honor 96-Year-Old Activist Songwriter

Marcus Shelby leading the CMC Teen Jazz Orchestra (photograph by Nico Hend, courtesy of CMC)

Marcus Shelby is currently planning a concert at the Community Music Center (CMC) to honor African-American activist and songwriter Betty Reid Soskin. At the age of 96, Soskin is America’s oldest park ranger and has a long-standing reputation for speaking about segregation and civil rights. Since the Sixties, she has been writing songs, which are poetic reflections on her experiences as a mixed-race woman confronting segregation at work and in the East Bay housing market. She has personal old tapes of this music, but she was never recorded commercially.

Shelby has been working with the CMC Teen Jazz Orchestra, and he has been preparing arrangements of Soskin’s music for them to perform. This month they will bring their results to a one-hour performance. Vocals will be provided by local jazz artist Jamie Zimmer.

This performance will take place in the CMC Concert Hall, which is located in the Mission at 544 Capp Street, between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue and between 20th Street and 21st Street. The performance will begin at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22. There will be no charge for admission.

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