An Emmy-winning local jazz singer is committed to ensuring students have the opportunity to pursue pathways in the performing arts, regardless of medium.
Today, 11 years after its inception, an annual summer program still provides musical exposure for all ages, with an opportunity for students to put what they have learned to the test at two public concerts.
Arts correspondent Angel Idowu takes us to the West Loop for “Timeless Gifts: A Musical Revue.”
“It’s a remembrance, a reimagining, a tribute to some of the great iconic pieces of musical theatre, film and television featuring African Americans,” said Joan Collaso, founder of Timeless Gifts. “You will see excerpts from “Sarafina! », « Porgy and Bess », « The Wiz », « Dream Girls », « What’s Love Got To Do With It », a Motown medley… »
Made up of students aged 3 to 24, Timeless Gifts is an association created by Collaso.
“It’s just that outlet,” Collaso says. “Being able to express yourself differently. Being able to be who you really are at some point in your life is very important.
Although the seven-week summer program offers singing and performance lessons, it also emphasizes the importance of working behind the scenes, refining the idea that the performing arts can be practiced at both with passion and in a practical way.
“As you get older, it’s less about fame, and more about earning a living and being realistic about where life is taking us,” says Collaso. “And yes, some people will be stars, but many will make a lot of money.”
News)” height=”1026″ src=”https://news.wttw.com/sites/default/files/styles/full/public/field/image/Timeless_Musical_071822_C2N.jpg?itok=g1KePi3v” title=”Timeless Gifts participants rehearse musical numbers for upcoming performances. (WTTW News)” width=”1824″/>
This commitment to the practicality of the performing arts also extends to the relationships created. Eight-year-old Christian Williams has been with the program for five years and has found a mentor in his percussion teacher, Tony Carpenter.
“He might be the best drumming teacher I’ve ever had,” says Christian.
“As children learn the different parts of instruments correctly, they put them together to create a rhythm,” says percussion teacher Tony Carpenter. “I lean on Christian because he will demonstrate for the other students.”
It is thanks to this understanding of rhythm by learning percussion that Christian was able to apply it in his first solo for musical experience. It wasn’t until Christian joined the program that he realized he even wanted to sing. Collaso says this is just one of many success stories Timeless Gifts has offered.
“Our young people, all they want to do is play music, dance, play the piano and that’s important and they can be successful,” Collaso said. “But those who are on the fence, it’s important that they know there’s a place for them here too.”
You can catch “Timeless Gifts: A Musical Revue” Tuesday nights at 7:30 p.m. at the Epiphany Center for the Arts, 201 S. Ashland Ave.
If you can’t make this show, they’ll have their late summer showcase on August 7th at the DuSable Museum, 740 E.56e Square.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS fund of the artistic correspondent of the DuPage Foundation.