In Memory of Julio "Cesar" Vaquerano

In Memory of Julio “Cesar” Vaquerano

December 18th was my friend  Julio ’s birthday and like typical birthday celebrations, Julio was surrounded by his loved ones: family, friends and co-workers. We did our best to sing  “feliz cumpleaños” the Spanish version of Happy Birthday,  but producing a beautiful, audible sound while you are sobbing is almost impossible. It was Julio’s 37th birthday and we were at the funeral home paying our last respects and saying our final goodbyes.

I know how this family feels: violent crime brings not just shock, it also infects you with brutal confusion. It’s completely overwhelming, especially when kids are involved – and Julio had four children aged 3-14.

Julio was part of the magical team that created the magnificent marble and granite masterpieces found in so many of my clients beautiful homes. He was also one of the inspiring energies that kept me focused while I created the Over My Shoulder Foundation last year. In so many meaningful ways,  Julio and all the vibrant men who work on my design team, mentored me both professionally and personally while I launched this foundation. I enjoyed many long conversations about the importance of family and the necessity of  balance in life with Julio. I remember one day in particular, sitting outside in a parking lot talking to Julio about his beautiful children, his grandmother and the American Dream. I remember this day so vividly because I was so envious of his contentment – I thought to myself, this is a successful man, this is a man who has it all.

I want to dedicate this blog entry to Julio – Julio was  one of the dazzling mentors found in my exquisite collection. I would also like to take a moment and ask all of you to send your good wishes and prayers to Julio’s family. They will need our continued thoughts and prayers as the mystery surrounding Julio’s death unfolds and is solved.

As we each face the New Year, I ask that each of us adopt some of the mentoring spirit of my friend Julio. Julio was a vibrant man with contagious enthusiasm. He had a smile that could cure any sadness. Let this beautiful memory of him mentor, inspire and influence us all.

Dawn Carroll

Arens and Farren kept studio time productive and always entertaining!

As the self-proclaimed “Oddfather of Rock,” Brynn Arens has been on the pop culture music scene for decades. He has worked with some of the top names in music as a studio guitar player, described by well-known English songwriter and producer Mick Ronson as “one of the best natural guitarist he had heard in years.”

I am very pleased to be a part of the Over My Shoulder Foundation as mentoring was as much of a part of my young life and as it is today. The people involved in this foundation are top notch, and it just makes me proud to be associated with such a great group of individuals. It was an honor to work side-by-side with music legends like Charlie Farren and Patti Austin and closely with song writer Dawn Carroll to create the iconic foundation theme song, “Over My Shoulder.” Dawn Carroll is a tireless trooper and she brings so much positive energy to everything she does that anyone can see this truly is her calling.

Stand tall, be proud, sing it high, sing it loud, I am here and so are you, together we make each other strong! Onward and Upward!

Sincerely,
Brynn Arens

 

 

DNE Publisher Steve Twombly, Grammy Award-winner Patti Austin, rising star Lianna Gutierrez and DNE Editor Gail Ravgiala at Design New England’s Fourth Anniversary Celebration

 

Cumar Inc.’s Controller Carlotta Cubi sits down with Design New England Editor Gail Ravgiala and Publisher Steve Twombly to reflect on mentoring in the design world.

Carlotta Cubi: First of all, congratulations on Design New England’s four year anniversary!

Gail Ravgiala: Thank you! The November celebration at the W Hotel honoring the milestone was the perfect way to mark the occasion. Everyone who attended raved about Grammy-winner Patti Austin and her protégé Lianna Gutierrez singing the song “Over My Shoulder” written by Cumar’s own Dawn Carroll. Combined with the unveiling of the MIDDIES award, it was the event of the year.

Carlotta Cubi: We, here at Cumar, were so honored to be able to design the Mentors In Design (MIDDIES) award for the program recently started at Design New England. For those who aren’t as familiar with the MIDDIES, what was the inspiration for this awards program?

Steve Twombly: Design New England wanted to applaud the Over My Shoulder Foundation for its pioneering spirit and strong mission of mentoring and recognize the generosity shown by established members of the design community. From construction sites to showrooms, from design offices to work rooms, we find there is a sharing not only of knowledge but also of the intangible insights that only the seasoned player can impart to the rookie. Veterans in the design world are incredible assets to promote and encourage future designers.

Carlotta Cubi: It’s been a great year for both Design New England and Cumar, including welcoming designer Dawn Carroll to our talented team. As one of the founders of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, Dawn was instrumental in bringing us all together to support the mission of mentoring. Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, and we look forward to working with Design New England in the future!

Honoring Our Mentors

Patti Austin, beside her OMS co-founder Dawn Carroll and mentee Lianna Gutierrez, receives her honorary award from Cumar’s Carlotta Cubi

At Design New England’s Fourth Anniversary celebration on November 3rd, Over My Shoulder co-founder Patti Austin was given an honorary award for her pursuits in the world of design and her pioneering initiatives in mentoring. Award designer Cumar Inc.’s CFO Carlotta Cubi spoke about her own mentoring experiences and presented Patti with the award.

“Thank you everyone for coming to celebrate Design New England’s 4th anniversary and the spirit of mentoring, with the Over My Shoulder Foundation. I’d like to congratulate Design New England on four years of success in the industry, and thank you for the opportunity [for Cumar] to participate by creating the award.

In the stone world, mentoring is the only way that the special craftsmanship has been able to live on from generation to generation. Growing up as the daughter of a 7th generation stone craftsman whose passion for his work has brought him international recognition was inspiring. In my house, a highlighter and a set of architectural blue prints were how we practiced coloring within the lines. No coloring books, just plans of hotel lobbies, elaborate offices, or luxury residences. When I joined the family business, it became obvious that my dad was mentoring me all along. To you [my father] Ivo, I say thank you from me, the entire team at Cumar, and the countless number of other people in the industry you have mentored over the years.

Lastly I would like to thank Patti [Austin] for starting the foundation, and for demonstrating here tonight with [your mentee] Lianna, the results of a strong mentoring relationship. Patti, for your commitment to the music industry and now the design industry, we would like to present you with the 2010 inaugural MIDDIE award. Congratulations Patti and as we welcome you into the design industry, we wish all the best with your transition from mentor in the music world to mentee in the design world.”

The Giving Season

From CulturalWeekly.com
December 12, 2010 by Adam Leipzig

Some CulturalWeekly.com’s readers create opportunities for others; some are creators themselves. Here are ideas for holiday and New Year’s giving from a few of the people who read this blog – presents your friends and family may love, and gifts you might love to give to yourself in the months ahead.

Over My Shoulder Foundation is a unique arts and entertainment driven project whose goal is to raise awareness of the historical impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross generationally in new media driven ways. It’s an organization that understands that there was a time when mentoring was a given art handed down to generations as part of one’s reason for gaining a skill or just plain old wisdom. CulturalWeekly.com reader Dawn Carroll co-founded the organization, and co-wrote the song Over My Shoulder. Grammy winner and OMS co-founder, Patti Austin, along with her young singing sensation mentee, Lianna Gutierrez, recorded it.

Over My Shoulder co-founder Patti Austin wowed the audience at Boston’s “Holiday Lights,” celebrating the 69th tree lighting ceremony. Ready to celebrate the holiday season, a huge crowd gathered on Boston Common last night. The event featured appearances by the world-famous Radio City Rockettes, “American Idol” contestant Katharine McPhee and the Boston Pops Gospel Choir with Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart. Patti provided a show stopping performance and was thrilled to be able to bring her message of mentoring back to the Boston area.


Maria “TOOFLY” Castillo is a graphic artist whose work has appeared in various books, videos, and magazines such as Graffiti Women, Burning New York, Current TV, MTV Tr3, Trace, YRB, Juxtapoz, and Marie Clair. She also has her own line of t-shirts, designer toys, graffiti bags, art prints, jewelry, and stationary. Coming from humble beginnings in Queens, Toofly’s story illustrates the power mentoring and inspiration can have to shape and motivate people to reach their goals and succeed beyond all expectations.

You note on your website that you were highly influenced by the calligraphy and illustration skills of some exceptional writers as a teen. Who were some of these early inspirations and why were they so motivating to you?

Some of my early inspirations were graffiti writer friends from my neighborhood and from school and other writers whose graffiti letters, tags, and characters I saw on rooftops. Graffiti and illustration fascinated me as a teen because it carried a strong and powerful “rough” but “fluid” energy. I was drawn to it because it’s how I felt at the time.

Your urban arts collective Younity is all about promoting the arts in conjunction with mentoring for young women. Were you afforded any similar opportunities as a child or was there a specific person you viewed as your mentor that helped jump start your passion for art and design?

I grew up with a very creative family, especially my mother. She was always making piñatas, party momentums, or drawings. She was an independent artist throughout most of her life which was how she financially took care of us. She showed me at an early age to be an entrepreneur. During the summer she taught me how to make crafts and sell them on our stoop. I was about 10 years old when I realized I could make things with my hands that people would like and buy. My passion for art and design has been with me since I was a child and I feel my mother and the art programs available to me in school helped me cultivate that passion.

Who, today, do you consider to be your greatest inspiration to create your work?

I feel I carry a strong female energy, and message inside me that wants to shine. I realized it as a child but as I got older, I have come to recognize it, and feel its presence more and more. This is what continues to motivate me, and help create my life’s work around women and women’s issues.

Do you still draw on ideas from your surroundings?

Yes. I continue to draw ideas from various places in my world and state of mind. Everything from how I feel, to the beautiful street art in my city, to fashion and photography, and social issues happening in my community. Inspiration is everywhere and anywhere when I want to tap into it.

What do you think your next move is in the arts/business world?

I have found in the last few years that I want to dive a lot more into community building and education. I have learned so much and have much to share these days. I am in the works to develop my own independent youth program project for girls that will launch in the Spring of 2011.

Now that you have created a strong brand and built the Younity movement, what other ventures are you pursuing?

At this time I would like to continue to make all my ventures strong. Foundations are important for the longevity of the brand. Every year is a chance to learn and introduce a new project depending on where I am at in my life and creative flow. Some ideas make it through and continue to grow but others don’t and so you gotta know when to step away and start something new and fresh. That’s where I am now stirring up something new! For up to date info on my new projects you can visit my blog: www.tooflynyc.com/life

In Tune With Mentoring

Patti Austin with Charlie Farren and Lianna Gutierrez
“I had the pleasure of attending the Design New England Anniversary Celebration in Boston last week to support the Over My Shoulder Foundation. I was so proud to be a member of the songwriting team as I listened to the legendary Patti Austin and her mentee Lianna Gutierrez perform the foundation’s signature song, OVER MY SHOULDER. It was quite gratifying to hear the performance punctuated with audience reaction several times as the lyrics and arrangement clearly touched the room in a way that gave me chills!

Patti Austin’s career and story — famously mentored by the iconic Quincy Jones — is a fitting metaphor for the OMS Foundation, generously passing the torch to a gifted young performer in Lianna Gutierrez.

Mentoring is a gift in equal measure to all parties involved — in many ways it’s a gift to one’s self, and it’s a most important contribution to a next generation that will carry us into the future, and will be charged with facing tomorrow’s challenges.

Kudos to Over My Shoulder co-founder Dawn Carroll for her tireless focus and dedication in kicking off this important organization and movement. I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

– Charlie Farren

Charlie Farren is an accomplished singer, songwriter, and guitarist who first appeared on the music scene in the 1980s after teaming up with Aerosmith’s Joe Perry to create the album The Joe Perry Project. In 1986 Charlie, along with Dave Hull of The Joe Perry Project and John Muzzy, formed FARRENHEIT and released a self-titled debut album on Warner Brothers. Charlie reinvented himself as an artist throughout the 90s and continues to create and release songs today, performing in New England as one of the most original and compelling musical artists to-date (http://www.charliefarren.com/).


Wednesday night’s Design New England Fourth Anniversary celebration was a landmark event for the Over My Shoulder Foundation. As an organization focused on promoting the power of mentoring, Over My Shoulder ‘s influence inspired the creation of Design New England’s Mentors in Design Awards (MIDDIES) which were officially announced at the gala.

On hand for the spectacular celebration was Over My Shoulder co-founder Patti Austin. Patti was presented with an honorary award created by Cumar Inc., praising her achievements in her music mentoring initiatives as well as her involvement with the creation of the MIDDIES. Also performing at the event with mentee Lianna Gutierrez, Patti and Lianna’s rendition of the Over My Shoulder theme song wowed the crowd and was the highlight of the evening.

The event represents a wonderful turning point in the story of the foundation. It provided a coming together of organizations who are committed to and believe in the power of mentoring. Over My Shoulder has its eyes on the future and hopes to promote mentoring through upcoming events.


Having founded the Over My Shoulder Foundation with legendary vocalist Patti Austin, the national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally, mentoring has become an even more prominent part of my daily life. Over the years, Patti and I have begun mentoring each other with Patti helping advance my musical pursuits while I nurtured her interest in the world of design. This newly-found common passion led to Patti’s September 24th flight into Boston for a covert mission. Together with my current company, Cumar Inc., a stone fabrication and stone design business, we had three days to come up with the Mentors in Design Awards (MIDDIES), which would be unveiled at an elegant evening that Design New England is planning for November 3, 2010.

As a Grammy award winner, Patti understands the true impact of an award so I brought her to the Cumar offices to share with my co-workers the dreamlike feeling and the significance behind winning a coveted award like the one we were about to design. In addition, her newly-sparked interest in design made this opportunity ideal for Patti to get involved in. We had to make the award not only visually beautiful but also had to make it convey the importance of the person receiving it, a leader, a influencer who played a major role in the design community as someone’s mentor.

Mentoring seems to follow me wherever I go and is something that happens every minute of every day at Cumar. As one of the most respected and influential stone craftsmen in the country, president Ivo Cubi is also known globally for his ability to find the most unusual stones and is a natural mentor for everyone who works with him. Not only is Over My Shoulder proud to have inspired the MIDDIES, but the Foundation’s chance to work with Cumar, a company that believes so strongly in the impact of mentoring, to help create the award has been incredible. Combining the stone design knowledge of Cumar with the altruistic spirit of Over My Shoulder produced a stunning finished product fitting of the deserving future recipients. – Dawn Carroll

 


The Over My Shoulder Foundation, founded by Dawn Carroll, award-wining stone designer at Cumar, Inc. and Grammy Award winner Patti Austin, is proud to have inspired Design New England Magazine’s Mentors in Design Awards (MIDDIES). The MIDDIES recognize design professionals who share their time, expertise, and wisdom with upcoming generations of designers.

With the goal of raising awareness of the impact that mentoring can have both cross-culturally and cross-generationally, the Over My Shoulder Foundation has garnered tremendous support. From musicians to authors to everyday individuals, the circle of influence the Foundation has attained continues to grow. Now, with the MIDDIES, Over My Shoulder is able to share its passion for peer support and personal growth in the New England design community.

Founder Patti Austin explains, “Our goal is to break down the barriers that separate generations of people and cultures. Through mentoring, we are all increasingly interdependent on each other, rather than independent individuals. And, because of people’s interdependency, the foundation hopes to foster respect, diversity, culture, and individuality.”

Published by Boston Globe Media, Design New England is a high-end furnishings and home design magazine. The official launch of the MIDDIES and start of the nomination process will occur on Wednesday, November 3 at Design New England’s fourth anniversary celebration, an invitation-only gala at the W Hotel and Residences in Boston’s Back Bay. After review, honorees will be announced during January, National Mentoring Month.

With the help of my friend Dawn Carroll, a founder of The Over My Shoulder Foundation, I was inspired to become a part of this movement. Today, I am the still photographer for Over My Shoulder, visually documenting those involved in mentoring- the core focus of the project.

During these photo sessions, I have had the opportunity to hear inspiring stories, stories that underscore the intense impact mentoring can have on a person’s life. Looking at my own children, the oldest being five, I hope that they will continue to have mentors in their lives, to inspire them to reach for greatness and build self-confidence. Teens present another key group that would benefit from mentoring relationships. When I see so many kids without anywhere to go after school, I feel a program like Over My Shoulder takes them off the streets and energizes them to do things that they never thought they were capable of doing. When you think of mentoring, people often think of an older person helping out someone younger but that is not always so. Mentoring is simply about helping those in need, offering guidance to better another’s life.

Over My Shoulder is truly an incredible project. If you have the opportunity to help people in need, why not join us? As someone who believes it is important to get involved with projects that you are passionate about, I am proud to be part of a project with such a selfless, inspirational mission. Who couldn’t use a mentor at some point in their life? We all have qualities and traits that can help people. Taking the time to share these skills with others may ultimately create a better future for them. The best aspect of mentoring is that it is never-ending; those you mentor can take that experience and go on to mentor others and keep the positive spirit of Over My Shoulder going.

Russ Mezikofsky, photographer


To me, a mentor is having a special relationship with someone who shares their knowledge by giving the very best advice to guide you through life. A mentor doesn’t have to be famous, but does have to have a true passion for giving their time and wisdom to a younger person. The younger person just has to be open to listen. I was lucky enough to be the mentee of the incomparable Patti Austin.

As I child, my parents introduced me to every style of music, from the “First Lady of Song” Ella Fitzgerald to the soulful tunes of Earth Wind & Fire to the talented Carol King, sparking my interest early to become a singer one day. I still remember this first time I heard Patti Austin for Ella in the 7th grade and fell in love with the song A Tisket, A Tasket, wishing I could sing just like Patti. One day, I entered a contest and chose that very song though the sheet music was nowhere to be found. Looking on her fan website, I noticed it was her birthday and decided to email her, sending her birthday wishes, telling her I loved jazz and singing, and also asking for the score for A Tisket, A Tasket. To my surprise, her manager wrote back asking for a photo and a demo CD. The next thing I knew, I was on a train with my family to New York City to spend a weekend with Patti Austin! I went to a recording studio and recorded Someone to Watch over Me with her. Patti taught me how to hold myself on stage, how to dress for a performance and she told me to learn, learn, learn! Our time together was magical and it gave me the motivation to pursue my dreams even more. To this day, I can remember every moment shared with her, it was the most amazing experience of my life.

During that same weekend, I also met Ari Meyers, a wonderful person who filmed the entire mentoring experience. A couple of years later, Ari called me to tell me about a new concept she had created called My Purpose Party™. She explained that the concept of My Purpose Party encourages youth to utilize their talents to create their own dream party for a charity. Charity has always been a passion of mine, so I held my first My Purpose Party on October 11, 2009, raising $2000 and 500 pounds of food which was given to the food pantries of Exeter and West Greenwich in Rhode Island. This year I held my Second Annual My Purpose Party on September 25, 2010 for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and Exeter and West Greenwich Food Pantries while promoting farmers through a musical concert. With my goal of raising $10,000, I was thrilled to have Patti perform at the event and enjoyed another wonderful weekend of mentoring and thoughtful advice. I have been so moved by her giving, gracious spirit that I hope one day, I can get the chance to return the favor of mentoring someone myself.

Inspiration is Contagious

At the core of the Over My Shoulder Project, mentoring through music allows individuals to explore a creative outlet enabling them to express themselves and their ideas. Foundations like Over My Shoulder have become increasingly valuable to not only educate aspiring artists but to also act as primary sources for sharing musical interests. When asked by his personal friend, co-founder of Over My Shoulder and songwriter/designer Dawn Carroll, to help with lyrics and melodies for another song specifically for the Over My Shoulder Project, Hal Lebeaux Boudreau was happy to oblige. Today, 53 year old music veteran Boudreau wholeheartedly attributes his rekindled passion for music to Carroll’s infectious positivity, thanking his friend for not only her personal support but her professional confidence in him to include him in such a key project.

“My friend Dawn Carroll called me one day asking me to ‘mentor’ her and help her complete some new songs for her Over My Shoulder Project. Her request had a surprising impact on me personally and before I knew it, I developed an additional eighteen songs for my own first album. Drawing on personal vision as well as Dawn’s writing, Dawn and her Over My Shoulder Project unknowingly set the wheels in motion for a rebirth of my artistic creativity. Although I have worked throughout my life in music, it was not until this project have I been so motivated. I’d like to take a moment to thank my friend and musical colleague Dawn Carroll for re-igniting the fire in me to be creative and write, sing and play my own original music. Without the magical mentoring spirit of Over My Shoulder, I doubt my new album would have happened.” – Hal Lebeaux Boudreau

Dawn and Hal are currently in the studio recording their song “Jet Stream.” Stay tuned and be one of the first to hear this collaboration.

Byline: Grammy winner Patti Austin crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMYS® and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts. She is Patti Austin, whose extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights. Because of how important mentoring has been to Patti throughout her life, she has joined the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

On the way to yet another birthday on August 10th as Patti Austin, I think about how rich my total life has been and the kind of treasure that no amount of money could ever buy. At this time of year I always reflect upon those who mentored me and taught me the life sustaining and life fulfilling lessons that make these birthdays so happy for me.

It all started with my parents. They kept me so well grounded in trying to understand how valuable every bit of life knowledge was that I could squeeze into my little brain—a brain that usually was thinking about how I would be famous like Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis Jr. and Quincy Jones – who all became mentors to me when I was just four years old.

I have done my best to heed their advice about making every minute count towards being a total entertainer and a total human being. That’s why I got so excited when given the opportunity to work with Dawn Carroll who has given birth to the Over My Shoulder Project and its “Mentorology” concepts, of using design, music, stories and entertainment to help people understand the power of mentoring and give them real life examples of how mentoring is an art form that can continually provide enduring “life goodies” to mentor and mentee.

Dawn claims I mentored her for years by example. I had no idea of the positive effect I was having as she made her way to become so successful in her life. Of course, we entertainers have no problem taking credit for anything that builds and repairs our fragile egos. But working with Dawn to bring the “Over My Shoulder” mentoring ideals to life has been yet another life affirming experience for me and I think I will call this August 10th a rebirth-day. After the incredibly influential and positive affect my mentors have had on my life, it is destiny now that I am able to help promote the power of mentoring and I am blessed to be a part of the Over My Shoulder Project.

Watch Patti Austin and Lianna Gutierrez perform Over My Shoulder as part of the Eighth Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute Concert in partnership with New England Conservatory and ABC Affiliate  WCVB-TV.  The live broadcast on January 17th 2011 was syndicated nationally to millions of viewers across the U.S. and re-broadcasted to over 117 countries.

 

Over My Shoulder is a duet written by Dawn Carroll, Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms and sung by Grammy Award Winning singing legend Patti Austin and now 15-year-old singing sensation Lianna Gutierrez. The song is about inspiration, guidance and mentoring. It is about passing the baton to a younger generation.

The real life mentoring effort that exists between Lianna and Patti has ignited a stunning conversation that started in Boston Massachusetts, which is historically known for its big ideas. The conversation is now reaching all over the nation encouraging all people to become a part of the Over My Shoulder Foundation, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

Continue Reading…

 

[box]Grammy winner Patti Austin crosses all musical genres, has made 17 solo albums, and has performed her award-nominated hit songs on the GRAMMYS® and the Oscars. As a performer, songwriter and vocalist she has had a star-studded career that began at the age of four, making her one of the most beloved artists the world over and a mainstay on the Billboard Jazz Albums charts.

She is Patti Austin, whose extraordinary career continues to cross over boundaries and reach new heights. Because of how important mentoring has been to Patti throughout her life, she has joined the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.[/box]

On the way to yet another birthday on August 10th as Patti Austin, I think about how rich my total life has been and the kind of treasure that no amount of money could ever buy. At this time of year I always reflect upon those who mentored me and taught me the life sustaining and life fulfilling lessons that make these birthdays so happy for me.

It all started with my parents. They kept me so well grounded in trying to understand how valuable every bit of life knowledge was that I could squeeze into my little brain—a brain that usually was thinking about how I would be famous like Dinah Washington, Sammy Davis Jr. and Quincy Jones – who all became mentors to me when I was just four years old.

I have done my best to heed their advice about making every minute count towards being a total entertainer and a total human being. That’s why I got so excited when given the opportunity to work with Dawn Carroll who has given birth to the Over My Shoulder Project and its “Mentorology” concepts, of using design, music, stories and entertainment to help people understand the power of mentoring and give them real life examples of how mentoring is an art form that can continually provide enduring “life goodies” to mentor and mentee.

Dawn claims I mentored her for years by example. I had no idea of the positive effect I was having as she made her way to become so successful in her life. Of course, we entertainers have no problem taking credit for anything that builds and repairs our fragile egos. But working with Dawn to bring the “Over My Shoulder” mentoring ideals to life has been yet another life affirming experience for me and I think I will call this August 10th a rebirth-day. After the incredibly influential and positive affect my mentors have had on my life, it is destiny now that I am able to help promote the power of mentoring and I am blessed to be a part of the Over My Shoulder Project.

 

[box]Songwriter/Designer Dawn Carroll wrote the song Over My Shoulder with Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. It was first sung as a duet sung by Grammy Award winning singing legend Patti Austin and the then 13-year old Lianna Gutierrez who is generating an amazing buzz as a protégé and mentee of Patti Austin. Dawn is leading the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.[/box]

Many people why I created the Over My Shoulder Project, so here is my story. It is one of hope, courage and transformation. If you are inspired by my story I believe that you will continue to be inspired if you get involved in the Over My Shoulder Project with me, GRAMMY® Award winning singing legend Patti Austin, American television writer and producer Norman Lear and countless others who believe in the power of music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

Continue Reading…

 

Lianna Gutierrez is a 15-year old singer of Filipina descent who is generating an amazing buzz as a protégé and mentee of Patti Austin. She sings the duet Over My Shoulder with Patti Austin; the songs lyric written by Dawn Carroll about hope, courage and transformation that has become the anthem of the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.

A Mentor. Something that every girl my age wants but doesn’t speak about. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they don’t want to admit it or maybe they’re embarrassed to ask for advice. Having Patti Austin as my mentor has helped me not only with my singing, but as a person. She told me to always stay humble and never change. Seeing her in the studio helped me see who she really was; funny, humble, and extremely down-to-earth. Recording Over My Shoulder was a really thrilling experience. I got more comfortable in the studio and actually got to know Patti. One thing that I learned: once she enters a room, there will be non-stop laughter. We had a blast! Laughing and joking around, it got so bad that we had to stop ourselves mentally and get back into focus mode.

Continue Reading…

Byline: Andrew Shapter is a filmmaker, photographer and screenwriter. Andrew has been involved in the arts since began to collect cameras and experiment with lighting at the age of 12. After graduating from college in 1992, Shapter quickly began career as a professional photographer specializing in music and fashion photography. After working non-stop for nearly 15 years in the photography market, Shapter turned his attention to his very first passion, filmmaking. His first effort, the critically acclaimed 2006 documentary Before the Music Dies (featuring Dave Matthews, Eric Clapton, Erykah Badu, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt, Questlove and many other prominent musicians) was a hit with music fans worldwide. His follow-up film HAPPINESS IS is an exploration of the truths and myths of “the pursuit of happiness” in America, touring the U.S. in 2010. Because of his passion for mentoring and music, Andrew will get more involved in the Over My Shoulder Project in the future.

When I was just six years old, I came home from school alone while my parents were away working long hours. Every afternoon, like so many children still do, I turned on the TV and got lost for three hours a day. It was my virtual babysitter. I watched re-runs of sitcom classics like Good Times and Three’s Company, although hardly shows that a 6 year-old kid could relate to.

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[box] Songwriter/Designer Dawn Carroll wrote the song Over My Shoulder with Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. It was first sung as a duet sung by Grammy Award winning singing legend Patti Austin and the then 13-year old Lianna Gutierrez who is generating an amazing buzz as a protégé and mentee of Patti Austin. Dawn is leading the Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally.[/box]

As designers we recognize potential the second we enter a new space. With confidence we understand exactly what we can make a room…become. “What do you see that I can be?” is what a spiritless space will ask us. “What am I missing that will make me be complete?” is the question it begs us to answer. I’ve come to understand the many similarities between a designer and a mentor.

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Byline: The Over My Shoulder Project is a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally. It is led by songwriter/designer Dawn Carroll and endorsed by American television writer and producer Norman Lear and Grammy Award winning singing legend Patti Austin. The Over My Shoulder Project is on a fast track to growth, waiting on approval on application for 501(c)(3) status as a charitable organization and actively seeking out partnerships with individuals who want to use their talents to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring, or “Mentorology,” the art of mentoring.

The Over My Shoulder Project, a national mentoring initiative that uses music to raise awareness about the impact of mentoring both cross-culturally and cross-generationally, was inspired by the unique relationship between Grammy Award winning singer Patti Austin and respected songwriter/designer Dawn Carroll. When Boston-based integrated marketing communications firm Laidlaw Group was added to the mix, the Over My Shoulder Project was on its way to becoming a nationally recognized advocate for the power of mentoring.

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Today we are pleased to present an exclusive Over My Shoulder Foundation interview with the two talented ladies from the UK who run the L Project, an anti-LGBT bullying campaign. This interview touches on a hot topic. Bullying. There is too much of it and not enough mentors speaking out against it.

Georgey Payne and Sofia Antonia Milone are currently promoting the release of the hit single “It Does Get Better” to raise awareness about the effects of LGBT bullying, to give hope to those suffering from it, and to raise money to help combat it.

We love the slogan on the L Project Facebook Page, “Because you don’t have to be a minority to support equality and reject discrimination.”

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us. At Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF), our mentoring organization uses the Jimi Hendrix quote “If there is something to be changed in this world…then it can only be done through music”. “It Does Get Better” is proof that music CAN change the world – its impact is much more than you’d anticipated, and you got Seventeen of the UK’s leading lesbian music artists appear on the track. How did you do it?

Sofia – Put simply, a lot of hard work and determination, coupled with passion and talent. Essentially the kernel of the first project all came from Georgey and the song she penned. The artists were approached, a recording studio was found at a great special rate, and then we had to convince some sponsors to fund it.

The creative part was the easiest in many ways, because every participant was a consummate professional. No time was wasted, and within a weekend the music and vocals were recorded.

By far the hardest part was marketing the project pre-release. What really helped with that was having a professional campaign and a great product, but what actually propelled us was the resulting backing from the gay press and some amazing online social media pages.

As people became aware of us they passed on the message, and trust was built with those big online pages like Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook. Nothing beats a personal recommendation. Once the press and related people became interested we secretly let them hear the song, and they too knew we had a great product, and so the sharing continued.

We also had exclusive pre-release listening days for all those who had joined the L Project Facebook page, it made them feel a real part of the project – and I’m confident that it was hearing the song that drove them all to share us like mad. Social Media has truly been the method of this campaign.

Sofia Antonia Milone
Sofia Antonia Milone, Photography by Katie Lamb

Can you talk a little about how you’ve noticed your music become a change-making catalyst? Is there fan feedback that really made an impact, or a time when you had your a-ha moment of realization that what you created was making the world a better place?

Sofia – We knew the message of the song would unite people, but it was only after its release when people came pouring to the page, that we started seeing just how personally affecting the song, and the supportive project page environment, was to people.

We started receiving fanmail, and each and every person had a significant story to tell. Some are very hard to read, but all of them end well in that they tell us that the song has renewed their strength, and given them the boost they needed when times were hard.

Music and words are certainly powerful, but I think it’s giving people a place to come and feel included after they’ve heard our message, a place where they can share things, even if that is just a page on Facebook, that has become just as important. And that place is molded by those who frequent it.

Georgey, you wrote “It Does Get Better” in an attempt to cheer up a young friend who had confided in you that he had been the subject of homophobic bullying in school. The attempt has cheered up many, and inspired us all. How did the idea for the song come to you? What was your inspiration?

Georgey – The idea for the song was born simply because I wanted to cheer my friend up, make him feel happy about being gay and not feel like it was something he needed to fear. Because when you’re being beaten up all the time as he was, I can imagine that being gay quickly becomes something you learn to dislike about yourself.

The tune for the song was buzzing around in my head, and when I write it’s always the music and feel of the song that comes first. So when I got in from work that day I started on it straight away. It took me about an hour from start to finish. Whilst I was writing I changed the second verse to appeal to the whole LGBT community, hoping to empower them to feel good about being LGBT as well.

Georgey Payne
Georgey Payne

And how about the L Project. That grew out of the song? Can you tell us about that process?

Sofia – It quickly became clear that the attention we had garnered for the song was greater than we thought possible, and we had a choice: Either The L Project was just about this song, or it was something bigger.

Georgey and I are highly driven people, and this caught us at a time when we both really wanted to get our teeth into something. Georgey did that by getting the ball rolling, I did it by joining it full force, and together we decided that we make a great team.

We barely see one another, but the internet has allowed us to create a campaign bigger and better than anything either of us could have dreamed. Why leave it there? So many people were asking ‘what next?’ that we had ask ourselves the same thing. The answer to that question is as boundless as this project hopes to be.

Another project, new charities to donate to, more artists to gather, and fantastically supportive community to help us move forward. That’s what this project is, the community that has stood behind it. The fact that they’re not merely fans, they have somehow been empowered, they have taken our song and shared it with the world, shouted about it everywhere. The L Project stopped being about just one song almost as soon as the song came out.

Instead it started being about a community filled with like-minded individuals, from all over the globe. It started inspiring people. And in turn, we too have been inspired.

 

At OMSF, we stake our foundations on our concept of Mentorology (the art and science of mentoring). Mentoring can move us all toward a society of greater inclusion, integrity and value. Mentoring also helps us get across messages that might otherwise go unheard. Can you tell us what mentoring is to you? And how it has affected your life?

Sofia – This idea, or concept, of mentoring is new to me. Obviously I understand what a mentor is, but it is not something I have consciously taken note of before. I have had many inspiring people in my life, people I have looked up to, who have undoubtedly guided my moral compass. Most of those people have been family members, most notably my mother who is sadly no longer with us.

I can’t honestly say as an adult I have anyone I would term a ‘mentor’ specifically, I am driven and supported by my peers and colleagues. I think in this respect we are all mentors to one another.


Are you currently a mentor? If not, do you have plans in the future to become a mentor yourself?

Sofia – I suppose the idea of a ‘mentor’ is not dissimilar to that of a ‘role model’ (a term I’m more familiar with personally) and if it means to be a good person, doing good things, to give advice, information and support when it is requested, and maybe instill hope or inspiration in others, then I’d say that’s exactly what I try to do and be on a daily basis.

I would also say that being a ‘mentor’ to an individual is not something you can decide to become, rather individuals decide to treat you as their mentor. I merely hope that what I do, and what I achieve in life is something people can aspire to. If I can help them, of course I will. And I think on a larger scale, that’s what The L Project is about – setting a good example, and encouraging others to do the same.

Thank you, again, Georgey and Sofia for the time you took to talk with us about the L Project, your music, and your experiences of Mentorology.

You’re welcome, we wish you lots of luck!

Sofia Antonia Milone (L) and Georgey Payne (R)
Sofia Antonia Milone (L) and Georgey Payne (R). Photography by Katie Lamb.

With Designer Denise Hajjar

 

 

Today we are pleased to present an exclusive Over My Shoulder Foundation interview with Denise Hajjar, Boston-based fashion designer, philanthropist and Designer-in-Residence atFairmont Copley Plaza Hotel. Fashion New England calls Denise “a favorite of the chic ladies in downtown Boston”. Denise was gracious enough to lend her talents to a benefit fashion show for the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston earlier this year in April. Here she reveals her inspirations, mentors and ideas about mentorology – the art and science of mentoring.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder

 

Hi Denise. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today about mentoring, fashion and inspiration. You’ve certainly made a name for yourself, especially in Boston. What drives you to accomplish all that you have accomplished in the world of fashion and design?

My drive came from the fact I was given a talent from my grandmother who was a designer and taught me how to sew. Also believe it or not all the years of classical ballet training. I trained for 12 years 7 days a week as I thought I would be a dancer. This I feel is what gave me the discipline I needed to do what I do now. In the ballet world there is no room for wasting time. I had to grow up very fast and be very focused. I truly love what I do every day. And for that fact I always want to do better and be better. I get great joy in making women look and feel beautiful.

 

Denise Hajjar - Mentor, Designer, Fashion IconDenise Hajjar – Mentor, Designer, Fashion Icon

 

We love how early influences mold us into the people we are today. Do you credit certain individuals as mentors who have helped you really take advantage of the key qualities you picked up early on from your ballet practice and your grandmother?

I have several people who have helped me greatly and I still can go to. First, always my family and closest friends who never give up on me and are my main support in the good and bad times. Chuck Albert, who was the manager of Bonwit Tellers back in the 80′s. I sold to four Bonwit stores back then. VG Di Geronimo who owned a boutique on Newbury Street called Adornments Creative Clothing. I got to sell my pieces and it just grew from there. Today I would have to say Jon Crellin who was, at the time, the general manager of this Fairmont. He asked me to be their “designer-in-residence” 6 years ago! The rest is history. It has opened so many doors being here. Also I have to say, Amalie Canna, this incredible women whose knowledge of clothing construction is amazing. Whenever I am stuck on something I go to her. I am still learning after 30 years. So blessed to have her in my life!

 

On your website you write that your designs are a “reflection of the world…a combination of strength, sensitivity and imagination”. Strength, sensitivity and imagination are qualities that we think make mentors effective and successful. Can you think of some other qualities that befit an effective and successful mentor?

Well one must never forget who they are and where they started. Because at a moment’s notice, it can all be taken away. You must love what you do, almost to a fault. You have to want to keep learning from everyone around you. Helping along the way only will make you better at what you do, because you have to constantly be thinking outside the box. You never know who you will inspire OR who will inspire you!!!!

At Over My Shoulder Foundation (OMSF), we are convinced about the truth of our favorite Jimi Hendrix quote “If there is something to be changed in this world…then it can only be done through music”. Are you inspired by any music in particular? Do you listen to music when you work?

I ALWAYS listen to music, all kinds of music. It helps my creative juices going along with my fabrics that I work with. I think music and beautiful fabrics go hand in hand

How about you? Have you found yourself mentoring others? We’re thinking about Big Dreams Start Small benefit event for St. Jude’s Hospital and your philosophy “Giving back should be the rule, not the exception”. In these instances, do you think of yourself as a mentor?

I always have believed in mentoring. I have done it for so many years now. I get so excited when I see a student from the past or a young person who shadowed me come to me years later to say how I inspired them, how I motivated them to do what they went on to do. Or how a parent will come up to me to tell me their child was changed by what they saw and did when they were with me. You don’t realize the impact you make at the time.

Now let’s talk about the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston fashion show. How did the idea for the benefit fashion show come about? What made you decide to do it?

Well it’s not so much helping “Big Sisters” as it is helping women whether young or grown. To give them motivation and confidence to be or to do whatever you want. Not everyone has the support or skills in the beginning given to them like I did. So it is our job to give them a little help in getting started. In the fall I do my show for “Dress for Success”. This helps women who want to get back on their own. DFS helps them in many ways including providing job interview clothes.

 

Do you have any advice for youngsters out there yearning for a fashion career?

Advice? Be willing to do your due-diligence and work hard, very hard. Fashion and the world of design is not about making a lot of money BUT the love of doing your craft well. In this field we have to think the glass is half full always! Do not give up if you REALLY believe you are good and know you have something to offer. Go to school and take the classes needed to understand what you are going to do. Do internships. Volunteer to help out at shows or fashion events. Be happy at what you decide to do. If not, you will fail for sure.

 

Denise, thanks again for talking with us at Over My Shoulder Foundation about your fashion career and mentoring. It’s really clear that you LOVE what you do – and that is an inspiration to us all. We look forward to seeing what great things you’re going to do next!!!

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This picture is from the village of Ndonyo Nasipa in Samburuland, Kenya. Voss Foundation partnered with Milgis Trust to provide clean water to the village. After the tribe blessed the water, you were the first to turn on the tap. What were you thinking at that moment?