[box]Without positive influences, we become lost, both as individuals and as a society. That’s why our dedicated team searches for stories of people who use their talents to fuel greater confidence, self-esteem and self-worth in others. We look for exquisite examples of individuals who are moving us all towards a society of greater inclusion. The heart of the OMSF mission is to find a cure for hopelessness, and we believe that mentoring can help solve many personal and social issues.

Today, Marissa Ranahan introduces us to a vibrant new artist, Gemini Wired, who wrote this amazing song to stand up to bullying. Haters be gone. Let this song and all the stories we publish inspire you to get involved with mentoring. One simple way is to share the mentoring stories we write each week with all your friends—you never know how a story might inspire someone else. If we feed creative minds, they just might discover solutions to the many problems we face in this world.

—Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Director

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“If you can dream it, you can achieve it. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I listened to people who didn’t want to see me prosper.”

We all have dreams. They might be to inspire, to educate, or simply to do well in this life. At Over My Shoulder, we believe in dreams, and in the unique combination of music and mentorship. Kristian Bryant of Brockton, MA, also known as Gemini Wired, dreamed of being a talented musician; recently, merging that dream with a powerful message has inspired thousands.

When I cought Kristian’s music video, “What Now,” I was entranced by her anti-bullying lyrics. The song’s focus is on overcoming the negativity that’s so often thrown at the younger generation. In her own words, she explains her inspiration behind the video “What Now”:

“I want my ‘What Now’ video to inspire as many people as possible. There are kids who have so much to offer and do not know it because they want to hide their talents or intelligence. I don’t want them to be ashamed anymore. I want them to know people like myself and these organizations have their backs. What now!”

The video, which was posted just a few months ago, in fall 2013, has already exceeded over 30,000 views. “I plan on bringing awareness to bullying through my music but also sharing my message to many kids.” Kristian hopes that the sing will give hope and strength to the victims of bullying. She will be visiting schools in the New England area over the coming year, sharing her video and encouraging children to support one another.

“When young people are busy being positive and supportive, you see less cases of (kids) being bullied. I feel compelled to spread the message.”

So, who are her mentors? She described her family as her “greatest” inspiration, constantly providing Kristian with their support and encouragement. “Everything I do is for them (her family).” She also cited her musical support, the production team Lyve City: “They were kind of that missing piece to my puzzle,” she said.

Kristian has been passionate about music from a young age, when she formed a small, short-lived all-girls group. In college she gained knowledge about “producing music, writing music, and beginning to record my own songs.”

Music with a powerful message has the ability to touch us all. Kristian has done an incredible job of inspiring others through her musical ability. With her talent, she’s spreading a positive message of hope. In her unique song, the essence of music and mentoring come full-circle. With inspirational songs like these, mentorship through music becomes a reality.

At Over My Shoulder, we thank Kristian Bryant for her positive messages through music, and all those who continue to write inspirational pieces for all ears to hear.

Marissa Ranahan, OMSF Team Member

 

[box]So far, 2014 has been an exciting year for the Over My Shoulder Foundation. We discovered some amazing people who have agreed to share a little of their wisdom. We have stumbled upon dynamic examples of how easy mentoring can be—and seen how quickly you can change a life. A few weeks ago OMSF writer Larry Katz snagged an interview with Stanley Roberts, the reporter who reunited international music star Carlos Santana with his homeless former band mate. That story gets bigger every day (watch parts 1, 2, and 3). Last week, I got the opportunity to write a story for the amazing jewelry company, Alex and Ani, whose fantastic mantra is “Inspired by the Wisdom of Ancient Thinkers.”

Today we have an interview with Kim Taylor, who was recently appointed to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington, and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

We hope you’ll be inspired by these stories. Mentoring is a life-force we cannot live without. These positive influences in our lives stop us from becoming disconnected as individuals and as a society. So, in the words of President Barack Obama: “Be the change. Mentor a child.” [/box]

 

James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig © Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

James Taylor and his wife Kim Smedvig Taylor
© Rubenstein, photographer Martyna Borkowski

Kim Taylor received a most unexpected phone call last spring. It came from the White House. And, no, they weren’t trying to reach her rather well-known husband, musician James Taylor.

They were calling to ask her to serve as a member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities alongside the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Anna Wintour, Yo-Yo Ma, Jhumpa Lahiri, Kerry Washington and Secretary of State John Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz.

“It really was a surprise,” Taylor said from her home in the Berkshires. “It was out of the blue. Of course I said yes.”

Taylor expects her new position will offer opportunities to promote arts educations in schools across the United States, a mission, she says, “that’s very near and dear to my heart from all my years at the BSO.” Her relationship with the Boston Symphony Orchestra began 30 years ago, when Taylor worked in the orchestra’s publicity office, and continues today as a trustee and board member.

Taylor still isn’t sure what she will be asked to do as a member of the President’s Committee. She missed her first meeting, but she had an impeccable excuse.

“It was just so frustrating that the meeting was on November 22,” she explained, “the one day James and I had committed to being in Boston to perform at the Kennedy Library. It was a hard decision.”

On that day the Taylors performed at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As she has done for some fifteen years now, Kim added background harmonies to James’s performance. “We sang ‘Close Your Eyes,’ that beautiful lullaby, which we did as a duet, just the two of us.”

Does Taylor, who married in 2001, consider her husband her mentor as a singer?

“Yes,” she said laughing, “without question. I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember, but basically I was classically trained and it is very different to get up and sing in an arena with thousands of people.

“I grew up in a very musical family. My grandmother, who was born in 1891, was a trained opera singer. Her name was Portia Fitzsimons. She was a huge influence on me. She had a beautiful voice. She gave up her career when she had my mother, who also had an incredible voice, but never pursued her career, to have me. I just wish they were still here to see me. Not that I have a great singing career, I don’t mean to imply that. But I’ve been really lucky to be able to experience that. It’s such a wonderful outlet.

“I used to sing in the glee club and school choruses. After I went to work with the BSO, the highpoint of the year for me was if I could sing with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus at Christmas Pops. In fact, I just sang with them last week with Keith Lockhart. It’s the greatest thrill to be onstage with that chorus and that orchestra. So much fun.”

How did she make the jump from singing in a large chorus to performing on tour with James Taylor, one of the preeminent singer/songwriters of our time?

“We started very slowly. James heard me singing around the house or something. Then he was in the studio in New York with Russ Titelman, his producer, and he asked me if I could sing a harmony so he could just hear how it sounded. He tricked me! He didn’t tell me he wanted to use it or I probably would have been really nervous. When Russ said they were going to use it I said, ‘No way, that’s crazy!  Let me re-do it.’ But Russ said, ‘No, it’s great.’

“From there it just evolved. It started with James saying, ‘Why don’t you sing the encore?’—‘Shower the People’ or ‘How Sweet It Is.’ And it was so much fun working with his backup singers, Kate Markowitz and Arnold McCuller. They were so patient. It taught me so much.”

In recent years Taylor has rediscovered another artistic passion: acting.

“I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I acted as a child, in high school, and some in college. It’s something that’s been with me for a long time. But in my years at the BSO I didn’t really have the time to audition. Now my life is different. About four years ago I was able to audition for ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. I went mainly because our children—we have twin boys—they were eight then and they wanted to do it. They were auditioning for Tiny Tim and the young Ebenezer Scrooge.

“Much to my surprise the director asked me to read for Mrs. Cratchit. I was not expecting to audition. I had to do a Cockney accent on the spot. You know the Alastair Sim’s (1951 film) version? I tried to conjure that and much to my surprise, and terror, I was cast as Mrs. Cratchit. And there were 22 shows that year at the Unicorn Theatre in Stockbridge. The next year we moved to the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, which is a beautiful facility, and because it has a greater capacity we could do fewer shows.

“Then the artistic director, Kate McGuire, asked if I wanted to audition for this piece based on one of Edith Wharton’s short stories, ‘Roman Fever.’ We performed that this fall as part of this fall festival in the Berkshires. It was directed by Keira Naughton, the daughter of the actor James Naughton. She was fantastic to work with.”

Taylor did not hesitate when asked if she had an acting mentor in her life.

“Yes. Absolutely. I went to the Albany Academy for Girls. I had an incredible theatre teacher there, Margery Van Aernum. I studied with her from when I was nine to 17. I think it’s a very hard age to work with kids. I think like most kids that age it was difficult to get me to focus. But she treated us like professionals. Like adults. She had very high expectations.”

Without doubt Taylor will bring an unusual combination of experience and perspective to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, whatever her role.

“I’d love to tell you more about it when I find out more about what I’ll be doing,” she said.

And we will look forward to hearing about it.

 

About the author
Former Boston Herald columnist and editor Larry Katz has covered music and the arts for more than 30 years. Visit his website, thekatztapes.comContact him at larry@thekatztapes.com.

 

[box]What do Boston, Grammy award winner Patti Austin, rock stars Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith, nine-time Grammy-winning artist and social activist John Legend, the LA Philharmonic and the Hollywood Bowl have in common? It’s a song called Over My Shoulder.

This little song has become the anthem to a new mentoring coalition weaving together people from all regions in the name of mentoring. Music is the universal language with unique ability to arouse great introspection and activism. It breaks down barriers and brings us all together. As I always quote, Jimi Hendrix once said “If there is something to be changed in the world, then it can only happen through music.”

Read on to find out all there is to know about Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder Patti Austin’s induction into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame this year with some of the top names in music.

-Dawn Carroll, Over My Shoulder Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director[/box]

Patti Austin and her mentoring non-profit, Over My Shoulder Foundation, are getting ready to WOW at the Hollywood Bowl’s 14th Annual Hall of Fame Concert benefiting the LA Philharmonic’s Education Research Program this June. On June 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins will be performing along with this year’s Hall of Fame inductees:

  • Patti Austin
  • John Legend
  • Joe Perry
  • Steven Tyler

What is The Hollywood Bowl?

Do you know the name of the largest outdoor amphitheater in the US? It’s called the Hollywood Bowl and it’s located in Southern California right at the heart of LA’s Hollywood. It’s been home to musicians, conductors, singers, dancers, actors, and composers of the highest caliber performing in their prime since its inception in 1922.

The annual Hall of Fame concert ushers in the beginning of the summer season and honors musical legends with induction every year. This year’s 2013 Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame concert was created and produced by Wayne Baruch and Charles F. Gayton. The deserving inductees include:

If you’re lucky enough to visit the Hollywood Bowl, don’t miss out on the free Hollywood Bowl Museum!

On June 22, 2013 Patti Austin and Over My Shoulder Foundation will dazzle at the Hollywood Bowl’s 14th Annual Hall of Fame Concert.

 

Dawn Carroll and Patti Austin want to show you the power of mentoring through Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Dawn Carroll and Patti Austin want to show you the power of mentoring through Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Patti Austin’s Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Induction

When a performer is inducted into the Hollywood Bowl on the opening night of the season, a great honor is bestowed upon them. Patti will be inducted into the Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame this year along with critically-acclaimed recording artist John Legend and rockers Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of the legendary Boston-based rock group Aerosmith. The induction is a great honor for all who receive it.

Patti isn’t just an incredible Grammy-award winning singing legend, recognized far and wide for her musical talents. She is also an incredible philanthropist. She wouldn’t have gotten to where she is in her musical career without her mentors, who include notable legends in their own right, Quincy Jones and Dinah Washington among others. That’s why Patti gives back through mentoring.

 

How Over My Shoulder Foundation Fits In

One little song called Over My Shoulder has brought the world a little closer and has us all paying close attention to mentoring. The mentoring song was written by Dawn Carroll, Charlie Farren, Brynn Arens and Barry Orms. It was first performed by Patti Austin and her mentee, Lianna Gutierrez as a duet. The message of the song is to mentor, whether older to younger or the other way around – mentoring knows no age.

The video of the Over My Shoulder song caught the Hollywood Bowl producer’s eye – they were thrilled to learn that the person they were considering for this prestigious induction also was committed to Designing the Next Generation through Over My Shoulder Foundation.

Patti continues to mentor young singers like Lianna Gutierrez and Santana Roberts (Patti gave Santana a scholarship at an Over My Shoulder Foundation event at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams showroom in Boston) in addition to selflessly giving countless hours to her mentoring work through Over My Shoulder Foundation. In turn, the other Over My Shoulder Co-Founder, designer Dawn Carroll, is mentoring Patti in the world of design as Patti pursues her dreams of becoming an interior designer. Someday Dawn and Patti might have their own design-centric mentoring TV show but until then, stay tuned.

 

We’re Getting Excited: Over My Shoulder Song to Be Performed at Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame Concert on June 22

It’s a song called Over My Shoulder that has started an international mentoring movement and we’re so excited you’re joining us.

We can’t wait to see what will happen next.

[box]If you like Over My Shoulder Foundation, please SHARE your mentoring stories, consider donating to our non-profit and don’t forget to follow Over My Shoulder Foundation on Facebook too.

Are you a musician who wants to get involved in our mentoring movement? Contact us today! [/box]