LEAF Schools & Streets | Building community through song.
LEAF Schools & Streets young singers at the Children First/CIS Learning Center at Pisgah View are celebrating their voices through song with teaching artist, Anastasia Yarbrough. In weekly classes, Anastasia teaches 20 elementary-aged students to express themselves by joining their voices together. Anastasia believes in the positive power of song, “Learning music helps with discipline and working with others. It’s a way to have pride and develop skills in life that you wouldn’t get otherwise.”
Internationally celebrated Jazz/R&B singer Lizz Wright and master percussionist River Guerguerian visited the Learning Center to celebrate Black History Month. They worked with the students on learning “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Lizz also introduced the kids to “Down by the Riverside," a gospel song sung to empower and encourage others. “LEAF is a wonderful bridge to help me get to know facets of the Asheville community better,” noted Lizz. With these talented teaching artists, the Pisgah View Learning Center rang with the sounds of piano, drums, strings and the power of voices.
The students are learning “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in preparation for performing at the LEAF Festival this May. This song is often called "The Black National Anthem.” “It’s important that kids know this song,” Anastasia explains. “It’s a song about uplifting the spirit – remembering as a people what we’ve gone through and the potential of where we can go.” Anastasia chose this song after finding that most of the children were not getting a detailed education about Black History in school. “I thought it was important for kids to find strength in their culture.”
“I think the arts are a very powerful vehicle for not only building community but for really making a just society to happen” explained Anastasia. Her statement reflects LEAF’s mission of using the arts to empower and inspire youth, connect cultures and create community.