Notes from the field: The Kids are alright!!!

It is early June and we are deep in the heart of talent show and spring concert season.  I have been lucky to be at several this week, invited by the event hosts to fulfill several crucial roles, all of them different and all which I did so happily.  One was as a guest judge; one was as a sound guy; and all of them, as an awestruck audience member.

I’d like to share two noteworthy observations with you, one which is a call to action.

1.) I was called the last minute by a wonderful educator, Lynette Ivery, at Finletter Elementary School up in the Olney neighborhood.  She had been recommended to call me because someone at Grover Washington Jr. Middle School said, “Oh, Ambrose, yeah, he has a sound system.”

Lynette is one of the many dedicated teachers who take on the Herculean task of organizing a talent show and just two days before theirs, the school’s sound system blew up.  I get her call and I thank the stars that I was free to go help out, because her performers were so hot, it’s no wonder her sound system blew!

But this situation speaks to a greater need in the community that ArtsRising can potentially help fulfill.  And that is - many schools and civic organizations do not have adequate audio reinforcement to properly honor and champion the very youth they wish to showcase. 

I’ve been to too many youth performances in my lifetime that quite frankly are marred by faulty equipment or lack of training on proper usage.  I believe it is our job to minimize those challenges in order to maximize our youth’s potential.

Our aim in the next few months will be to raise at least $2,500 to purchase a communal portable sound system for the Olney neighborhood.  This system will be stored or housed in the community.  Targeted schools and civic groups will be trained on and have access to its use, so that we, as the adult service providers, may never have to put up technical barriers to our children wanting to express themselves through word and song.

We’d like to hear from you, if you wish to contribute to this cause.

I can be reached at 215-665-1400 ext. 3355 or

2.) It is always humbling to witness young people taking their first fledgling steps to share their talent.  Those that volunteer to do so are a special, generally self-selected group who feel compelled to get on a stage and marshal all their physical and emotive gifts to, at this stage in the game, emulate their pop star heroes in song or dance.  Perhaps a few have developed into creating original works, but by and large, I got to enjoy a panoply of renditions of Beyonce, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Bruno Mars, etc. this week.

It reminded me of when I was a teen in the late 80s and how I wanted to be either Bono or the Edge or both of the band U2 and how that deep association or one might even call “crush” to be your pop hero can propel any aspiring young person to grab that mike and grab that stage to self-actualize their own need for expression.

In the immortal words of a pop/rock icon from another era, Roger Daltrey from The Who – “The kids are alright.”