FALL 2021 CONCERT WITH MAVIS STAPLES AND SPECIAL GUEST AMY HELM
Thank you to our concert sponsors.
Music and social justice are inextricably linked in American history, and on October 19 at Washington, DC’s Lincoln Theatre, the two converged once more for JusticeAid’s fall concert featuring Mavis Staples and special guest Amy Helm. JusticeAid’s fall campaign and proceeds from the Concert exceeded our goal to raise an additional $100K for the Police Accountability/Community Empowerment program of Neighborhood Defender Service. Together with the success of donor support for JusticeAid’s virtual Roger Glasper concert in May 2021, this year JusticeAid’s grants to NDS PACE totaled $421,242!
Event photos by Evy Mages Photography and Day 1 Pictures. Concert Program
Prior to the concert, JusticeAid hosted an author talk at Busboys and Poets with Georgetown Law Professor Kristin Henning about her new book The Rage of Innocence: How America Criminalizes Black Youth. The conversation, moderated by Professor Angela J. Davis, focused on race and the juvenile legal system—a subject aligned with JusticeAid’s 2021 theme. Watch a video of the event.
“Racism and discrimination distort normal adolescent behaviors into crime and deviance among Black youth and deny them the grace and tolerance that society extends to their peers.”
Next stop, the Lincoln Theatre, where an exuberant Steve Milliken, JusticeAid co-founder and CEO, welcomed the audience for an evening of celebration, together again at last!
Spoken word lyricist Paine the Poet encouraged us to open our eyes and ears to police misconduct and other social injustices felt by marginalized individuals.
Grammy-winning artist Amy Helm took the stage with her all-star band. Helm is known for her powerful vocals and eclectic range of Americana roots music (soul, rock, gospel, rock, blues) and played several instruments showcasing her mastery of these musical styles. “Breathing” and “Cotton and Cain” (just submitted for a Grammy!) from her recent album, The Flood Leaves Behind, energized the crowd, as did Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” a moving tribute to the artist’s late father and drummer Levon Helm, who covered the song in the early 90s on the Band’s album, Jericho.
“It’s this special, mysterious, and kind of unknowable thing that happens in a live performance. It’s the same for a musician as it is for an audience member. Something enters the room and connects all the dots. The vibrational impact is just a wonderful thing.”
JusticeAid Board President Kim Duckett Coaxum recognized Executive Director Rick Jones and colleagues from NDS PACE and thanked sponsors.
Mavis Staples needs no introduction. The Blues and Rock ‘n Roll Hall Fame icon has spent her entire career championing justice with a repertoire of songs carrying powerful messages for social change. With her deep vocal range and unfailing charm, she simply lit up the house. Fans in the audience called out to her; one presented her with a bouquet of flowers.
“I’ve been “taking you there” for 70 years and I ain’t tired yet!”
Accompanied by lead guitarist/musical director Rick Holmstrom and the vocal harmonies of Donny Gerrard and Saundra Williams, Mavis delivered well-known protest songs from her years with the Staples Singers and more hits from her solo career.
Fans were treated to “Come go with me,” “Respect Yourself,” “Slippery People” (Talking Heads), and “Brothers and Sisters,” a 2019 collaboration with Ben Harper. “For What It’s Worth,” a Stephen Stills song about disrespect and abuse of youth by police on 1960s Sunset Strip, was among the evening’s highlights, as was the feel-good hit finale, “I’ll Take You There.”
If you were in the Lincoln Theatre, thank you for your energy and for clapping and dancing along with Mavis and Amy and their bands. Your support will help NDS, which has been so effective in Harlem and Detroit, expand its new PACE program to protect the civil rights of individuals and communities harmed by racist policing.
Amy and Mavis are great friends and clearly enjoyed participating in a fundraiser for an important cause. Stay tuned for their June 2022 European tour!