THIS weekend, take a trip down to The Big Easy by way of Abercorn Street.
For their annual fundraiser, The Savannah Children’s Choir has partnered with MusicFile Productions to curate an evening of great music, good beer, and goodwill.
It’s been six months since Jared Hall took the reins as Savannah Children’s Choir Managing Director and “A Night in New Orleans!” is one of his many fresh initiatives.
As former director of the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, Operations & Venue Coordinator for Savannah Stopover, founder of Thursday Night Opry and Trinity Sanctuary Concerts, a member of Velvet Caravan, and all-around active do-gooder and piano shredder, Hall’s earned a reputation for getting things done in creative and engaging ways. In an effort to engage younger patrons and create a more diverse audience, Hall turned to MusicFile Productions, Savannah Stopover parent company, to make Thursday night an evening to remember.
“Kayne and Peter are excellent at bringing not just the best talent but the best upcoming talent,” Hall says. “For this event, that’s the focus: an upcoming, really cool act that could draw in a younger crowd for this type of fundraiser.”
Past fundraiser themes have followed the “A Night in ___” theme, such as last year’s “A Night at the Opera.” With “A Night in New Orleans!” Hall was interesting in finding a headliner that captured the sound of the city but wasn’t afraid to buck tradition a little bit.
“We could have gotten somebody like a zydeco group, something more traditional, but we wanted to get a super-hip, upcoming act,” he says. “Of course, MusicFile was a perfect fit.”
The MusicFile team suggested New Breed Brass Band, a funk, rock, jazz, and hip-hop fusion group with second line brass band swagger. The band made its street debut in November 2013 and continues to rise, opening for Dr. John, The Fray, and more.
“They jumped out right away,” Hall remembers.
Local soul/funk/rock/hip-hop band Ambrose will open the night.
“They’re going to be amazing,” gushes Hall. “I’m so glad they have the opportunity and the chance to hang out with [New Breed Brass Band] and everything.”
All this fun and revelry is for an excellent cause.
“Some of the funds raised through the event go toward scholarships for children who can’t afford to come through Children’s Choir,” Hall shares. “We don’t want that to be the reason they don’t get these opportunities.”
Cash will also go toward the Choir’s travel fund.
“Travel is a part of the mission,” says Hall. “Last year, they went to Ireland and Asheville, and this year, the younger and older groups are performing down at Disney World. There’s also a service element; we get them involved in community service. They sing at retirement homes throughout the year, and in Orlando, they’ll get to rock ‘n’ roll at Disney, have fun on the rides, then Sunday, we’ll go sing at a retirement home.”
The Savannah Children’s Choir has proven to be a hugely positive aspect in the lives of many local youths.
“We have students from all economic and social backgrounds,” Hall says. “We work hard to be intentionally diverse—that’s not just in your ethnicity, but also in social upbringing. Right now, 99 percent of the students who come through Children’s Choir end up graduating college.”
As Managing Director, Hall hopes to see continued growth for the choir.
“I would like to take on new projects and do more integration with other genres and other guest artists,” says Hall.
The organization recently had prolific songwriter Jim Papoulis, who’s worked with the likes of Faith Hill and Snoop Dogg, as an artist-in-residence. Papoulis started with a basic lesson framework and engaged the students, encouraging them to talk about what was going on in their lives, what they were struggling with, and what was positive around them. Together, they threw out words for inspiration, learned about song structure, and, by the end of the session, created a special “thank you” song.
“They did it for WTOC as a thank you to the first responders and linemen in the hurricane,” Hall explains. “That was a cool way we could utilize his songwriting: as a tool for the kids to say thanks for things.”
Hall reminds that the Children’s Choir is always looking for enthusiastic volunteers for their office and at their yearly summer camp, where counselors, music teachers, and mentors are needed. The nonprofit also offers internships.
“A Night in New Orleans!” is a special fundraising opportunity thanks to its reasonable $25 price point. Those who are able to donate more might be interested in the VIP ticket, a $150 experience that includes a gourmet wine and food dinner at Smith Brothers (shrimp gumbo and beignets are on the menu, and rumor has it New Breed Brass Band may second line through the room).
“There are so many opportunities out there,” Hall says. “There are lots of things the community can do to help out in a nonfinancial way. But in a financial way, come to the show! The more people we get there, the more money we raise.”