Award-winning feature film Take Me To The River, non-profit organization Music Unites, acclaimed artists Frayser Boy and William Bell, and the Compton Unified School District partnered to host a music-filled event to teach and inspire inner-city students through the power of music on Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at Martin Luther King Elementary and the Compton High School Auditorium in Compton, California.

Revolving around director Martin Shore’s latest film, Take Me To The River, which celebrates the musical influence of Memphis in the face of pervasive discrimination and segregation, the event kicked off at the Martin Luther King Elementary school, where sixth-grade students participated in a songwriting workshop led by Shore, Music Unites’ Kirk Sells, STAX Records legend William Bell, and Academy Award winner Frayser Boy. Students embarked on an exciting “rap battle” and presented their creations to their classmates, teachers and music mentors. The songwriting session also included a Q&A on the guests’ experiences in the music industry.

The event continued at the Compton High School Auditorium with special performances by 21 Martin Luther King Elementary school sixth-grade students, who performed “BaBa Blues,” “Bossa Nova” and “Cage Full O’Blues.” Thanks to the support of the district’s superintendent and board of trustees, the evening also featured a special screening of Take Me To The River for students, parents and teachers, and a Q&A session with Shore, Bell and Frayser Boy.

“Take Me to the River is a must-see experience that transcends and bridges generation gaps. As an educator, I was deeply moved by the juxtaposition of the struggle of STAX recording studio and the struggle experienced by those embroiled in the Civil Rights Movement. I was further stricken by the influence of the musicians/artists from the Memphis area and the history brought about by their experiences. Their imparting of that knowledge to contemporary artists and novices was truly philanthropic. Compton High School students, staff and administration loved this film!,” said Principal of Operations at Compton High School, Doi Johnson.

Music Unites first collaborated with Shore at The Apollo, where the Music Unites Pepsi PS 153 Choir and Youth Choir performed in honor of the film. This Los Angeles community-wide educational initiative is meant to empower youth through music by having students watch the film and participate in the musical experience through special performances and educational panels with renowned talent.

“We are excited to have kicked off an exciting partnership with the Compton Unified School District and Martin Shore that will allow us to continue expanding and impacting more students across the community. Our Music Unites Pepsi PS 153 Choir had the privilege to perform at the Apollo launch event, and we wanted to continue collaborating and educating students about the film and importance of the power of music in their daily lives. We are fortunate to have so many artists and the district behind our mission and vision, and hope to take this across the country,” said Music Unites Founder, Michelle Edgar.

Take Me To The River is an award-winning feature film that celebrates the musical influence of Memphis in the face of pervasive discrimination and segregation. The film brings multiple generations of award-winning Memphis and Mississippi Delta musicians together, following them through the creative process of recording a historic new album, to re-imagine the utopia of racial, gender and generational collaboration of Memphis in its heyday. Shore partnered with Berklee College of Music to develop a curriculum based on his film, and in February 2015 kicked off the Take Me To The River Education Initiative at the world famous Apollo Theater, where the Music Unites Pepsi PS 153 Choir offered the world premiere arrangement of “Wish I Had Answered” by George Russell, Jr. and Renese King.

Music Unites is a national charity with the mission to raise academic and lifetime achievement for at-risk public school students through the support and creation of unique music education partnerships and programs.

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