Funding for guest artists provided by the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church Anti-Racism Team.
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Opening Doors: Race, Conversation, and Song
Opening Doors is a music and interview series hosted by Alastair Moock and presented in collaboration with the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church Anti-Racism Team. The series features top national and largely BIPOC talent playing music and discussing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Guest musicians are paid a guarantee by the church and, additionally, split online donations with an advocacy/charity organization of their choice. Shows stream live on Facebook and YouTube.
Sunday, February 6 – SaulPaul & 123 Andrés
Leading lights on the national family music scene, SaulPaul and 123 Andrés (Andrés Salguero and Christina Sanabria) are helping to change the public perception of what music for kids looks and sounds like. SaulPaul is singer-songwriter, rapper, inspirational speaker, and social entrepreneur who speaks and sings from the heart. His TEDx Talks about his origin story and winding life path are required listening for kids and parents everywhere. Andrés and Christina won a Latin Grammy for Best Children’s Album in 2016 and have just been nominated for a general Grammy in the same category. Both acts, along with Alastair and ten other musicians, are co-founders of Family Music Forward, a racial equity collective which has challenged and changed the genre of family music substantially over the last two years.
Alastair Moock is a Boston Music Awards-nominated singer-songwriter, a 2013 Grammy nominee for children’s music, and a well-travelled performer, speaker, and educator for all ages. Moock is also a contributor to NPR’s Cognoscenti blog, where one of his pieces speaks to a year of re-examination around allyship, advocacy, and his decision to decline a second Grammy nomination in 2020. Moock was inspired to create Opening Doors by his collaborative educational program with performer Reggie Harris around race, music, and history. The fruitful conversations that he and Reggie have with kids through the program prompted Moock to engage in similar exploration in the adult realm.
January 9, 2022 – Dom Flemons
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Dom Flemons a national treasure. Co-founder of the world famous Carolina Chocolate Drops (with Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson), Dom is a Grammy winner, two-time Emmy nominee, and 2020 United States Artists Fellow. Since 2014, when members of the Chocolate Drops each went their own way, Dom has evolved into a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, music scholar, and historian in his own right. He is considered an expert on the banjo, guitar, harmonica, jug, percussion, quills, fife and rhythm bones, and is one of the country’s foremost practitioners of early American music. His latest album, 2018’s ground breaking “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts and garnered dozens of prizes including a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album. Dom will be splitting online donations for this show with the Music Maker Relief Foundation.
December 5, 2021 – Briar & Joe Seamons
Seattle-based musical and life partners Briar and Joe Seamons have been making big and much needed waves in the Northwest territory for years. Musicians who beautifully navigate the wide range of the American musical diaspora together, their work is also deeply steeped in racial equity and education. As teachers for The Rhapsody Project — an organization co-founded by Joe with musician Ben Hunter — they bring an anti-racist lens to the exploration of music history, heritage, and culture in classes and camps for kids and adults. Half of the online proceeds from this show will go to support the educational and community-building initiatives of The Rhapsody Project.
October 24, 2021 – Kelly Hall-Tompkins
Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the Smithsonian Museum for African-American History, Kelly Hall-Tompkins is a soloist who has been acclaimed by The New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive.” She was the lead soloist for the Grammy/Tony-nominated 2016 Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” an experience which inspired her to develop the first ever solo disc of all new “Fiddler” arrangements, featured in the documentary film “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.” A pioneer of social justice causes in the classical community, Kelly will donate half of the online proceeds of her show to Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul, an organization she founded to share the therapeutic power of music with those experiencing homelessness. Music Kitchen commissioned and will present the World Premiere of Forgotten Voices at Carnegie Hall on March 31st.
September 26, 2021 – Pamela Means
Veteran singer-songwriter and resident Massachusetts badass Pamela Means is an “Out(spoken), Biracial, Independent artist whose ‘kamikaze guitar style’ and punchy provocative songs have worn a hole in two of her acoustic guitars.” Armed with the razor wit of a stand-up comic, an engaging presence, and elegant poetry, Pamela’s “stark, defiant songs” (The New York Times) set both the status quo and stage afire. Ani DiFranco says, “You groove so deep, I can’t get out. And I wouldn’t want to.” Alastair and Pamela cut their teeth together on the Boston folk circuit in the late 1990s, so this opening show of the season will be a fun exercise in looking backward and forward at the same time! Pamela will donate half of the online proceeds of her show to Arise for Social Justice a poor people’s rights organization based in Springfield, MA which works on issues such as housing, homelessness, criminal and environmental justice, and public health.
May 23, 2021 – Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer was recently featured in the New York Times as one of five artists who are “Black, female, and carving out their own path in country music.” She has performed at The White House, the Grand Ole Opry, on Oprah & Friends, and has shared the stage with Taylor Swift, The Eagles, and many more. She is also the host of “Color Me Country Radio,” a show on Apple Music Country that explores the intersection of race and country music with guests like Darius Rucker, The War and Treaty, Brittney Spencer, and Miko Marks. Rissi will donate half of the online proceeds of her show to the Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund.
April 25, 2021 – Dan + Claudia Zanes
Dan Zanes, a co-founder of the seminal Boston-based ‘80s rock band The Del Fuegos, went on to launch a solo career as “the Gold Standard in kid’s music” (NPR). He’s also a co-founder of Constructive White Conversations, an anti-racist White affinity group based in New York. In 2016, when Dan met Haitian-American jazz vocalist and music therapist, Claudia Eliaza, he not only found a new performing partner, but a new life partner as well. The two now travel the world together, performing for families and continuing to set the bar for the genre. The Zanes will donate half of the online proceeds of their show to the Black Church Food Security Network.
March 28, 2021 – Vance Gilbert
Vance Gilbert is a Boston luminary and national folk music legend. He has travelled the world and shared stages with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Shawn Colvin, Arlo Guthrie, and George Carlin (150+ shows), is a performer who defies stereotype: “I’m Black, I sing, I play an acoustic guitar, and I don’t play the blues,” he says. Dirty Linen describes him simply as “among the quintessential musical poets.” When they’re not performing, Vance and Moock are known to haunt Boston-area tennis courts together, lumbering around and frightening other players. Vance will donate half of the online proceeds of his show to Food Link, a food security organization on Boston’s North Shore.