[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.

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