Celebrate the Arts with Luis Rodriguez and Alberta Adams
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
“Art is the heart's explosion on the world. There is probably no more powerful force for change in this uncertain and crisis-ridden world than young people and their art. It is the consciousness of the world breaking away from the strangle grip of an archaic social order. ” — Poet Luis Rodriguez
Join us at YDL-Whittaker for a Celebration of the Arts on Thursday, March 31 starting at 6 pm. We’re offering an array of activities for all ages on this extraordinary evening. At 8 pm, catch award-winning poet, activist, and best-selling author (Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A.) Luis Rodriguez reading from his work that highlights the power of art as a force for change. Detroit’s undisputed Queen of the Blues, Alberta Adams, will be belting out the blues courtesy of the Jazz Foundation of America at 7 pm. Community Records L3C will be on hand helping kids and teens in workshops create and compose their own songs beginning at 6 pm. Our Celebration of the Arts is free and open to the public. This is an evening you will not want to miss. Bring the family!
Luis Rodriguez is convinced that a writer can change the world. Indeed it is through education and the power of words that Rodriguez saw his own way out of poverty and despair in the barrio of East LA and successfully broke free from the years of violence and desperation he spent as an active gang member. Achieving success as an award-winning Chicano poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more — until his young son joined a gang himself. Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in the bestseller Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., a vivid memoir that explores the motivation of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. Always Running earned a Carl Sandburg Literary Award and was designated a New York Times Notable Book; it has also been named by the American Library Association as one of the nation’s 100 most censored books.
Rodriguez is also known for helping start a number of prominent organizations — such as Chicago’s Guild Complex, one of the largest literary arts organizations in the Midwest; Rock a Mole (rhymes with guacamole) Productions which produces music and art festivals, CDs and film; and Youth Struggling for Survival, a Chicago-based non-profit community group working with gang and non-gang youth. In addition, he is one of the founders of the small poetry publishing house Tia Chucha Press, as well as Tia Chucha's Café & Centro Cultural—a bookstore, coffee shop, art gallery, performance space, and workshop center in Los Angeles.
An accomplished poet, Luis Rodriguez is the author of several collections of poetry, his latest being My Nature is Hunger: New and Selected Poems 1989-2004 (Curbstone Press). His poetry has won a Poetry Center Book Award and a PEN/Josephine Miles Literary Award among others. His books for children, America Is Her Name and It Doesn't Have To Be This Way: A Barrio Story, published in both English and Spanish, have won several awards including a Patterson Young Adult Book Award and a Parent’s Choice Book Award. Luis Rodriguez is also the author of Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Violent Times and a novel, Music of the Mill. Luis Rodriguez’s honors include a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Lannan Fellowship for Poetry, a Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, a California Arts Council fellowship and several Illinois Arts Council fellowships. He was one of 50 leaders worldwide selected as “Unsung Heroes of Compassion,” presented by the Dalai Lama. Rodriguez is currently working on a new memoir, titled It Calls You Back: An Odyssey through Love, Addictions, Revolution, and Healing due in 2011.
Luis Rodriguez conducts workshops, readings, and talks in prisons, juvenile detention facilities, universities, public and private schools, and homeless shelters. He addresses the complex but vital issues of race, class, gender, and personal rage through dialogue, story, poetry, and art.
Alberta Adams, born Roberta Louise Osborne, is a Detroit blues and jump blues singer born in Indianapolis, Indiana sometime in the early 1920s. She was raised in Detroit, Michigan by a relative, and got her break in the 1940s performing in a club on Hastings Street amidst other artists like John Lee Hooker.
Soon after, she landed a contract with Chess Records and recorded alongside Red Saunders for the label. She found herself touring with the likes of Duke Ellington, Eddie Vinson, and Louis Jordan, to name a few. Her solo career really did not lift off the ground until the 1990s, when she landed a contract with the now defunct Cannonball Records and recorded two albums for them, 1999’s “Born With the Blues” and 2000’s ”Say Baby Say.” In 2004, she recorded “I’m on the Move,” for the Eastlawn Records label. Her third record with Eastlawn, “Detroit Is My Home,” features collaborations with pianists Mark “Mr. B” Braun, Al Hill (Bette LaVette), and Ann Rabson (Saffire). Despite her advanced age, Alberta continues to tour. She has been the undisputed Queen of the Blues in Detroit for many decades.
Community Records L3C(CR L3C) is a social mission organization that builds local community, inspiring and creating relationships by bringing together diverse populations through collaborative participation in music and music education. “Knowing of Community Records' remarkable reputation for the work they do with the kids and teens in our community, the [Ypsilanti District] Library jumped at the chance to collaborate with them...on the Third Annual Ypsilanti Songwriting Festival. Community Records' contributions to the success of that festival were invaluable. They brought a fresh perspective to the festival through their focus on youth and their emphasis on diversity and collective creativity. It is our goal to continue this very rewarding collaboration with them throughout the future….,” Lori Kunkel-Coryell, Assistant Director, Ypsilanti District Library.