Don't Miss A Beat is on a mission to make sure that no child in Jacksonville, Florida gets left behind. For a decade the organization has worked to combat Jacksonville’s high dropout rate as well as other issues that plague our youth in this city. Utilizing the performing arts, academic enrichment, and civic engagement, Don't Miss A Beat has made positive and measurable impacts on our neighborhoods and communities.
This week we spoke with the entire team to find out more about the origins of Don't Miss A Beat, to learn in detail how far they've come and what they've accomplished since the organization's inception, and to get a glimpse of what the future holds for them.
Ravid Kahalani, the creator and mastermind of Yemen Blues, is a musician on a mission - a mission to unite the world with music across cultural and theological boundaries.
Israeli born with Yemenite parents, Kahalani grew up in a religious home that exposed him to Hasidic and Yemenite music from an early age. Ritual trips to the synagogue with his father left a lasting impression on him. “It was a Yemenite synagogue, a very simple building, and I remember the powerful feelings I had as a child when singing the verses of the prayers. It was always about singing and accurately pronouncing verses in a perfect Arabic accent.” (Times of Israel)
An inherent free spirit, Kahalani broke away from his religion and his childhood home as a teenager to discover his own path and find his own way. He described it as a time of "deep exploration" that eventually led him to hard drugs. It wasn't until the age of 20 that he resolved to turn his life around. “I woke up one day with the understanding that I was going to end up a druggie at the central bus station or dead if I don’t stop now,” (Times of Israel)
From that point on he explored healthier outlets of expression from cooking (he spent seven years as a professional chef), to training in dance, performing in the theater, and singing opera. Throughout it all music was the constant and omnipresent driving force in his life. By the age of 25 he knew music was not only his calling, but his destiny.
Yemen Blues is the result of his life's journey thus far and has a sound and style as unique as he is. Rooted in the traditions of Yemenite singing, Yemen Blues threads West African funk, blues, jazz, and other musical traditions together creating a high-energy, danceable experience for young and old.
Yemen Blues will be performing a free concert here in Jacksonville on December 20th at the Jacksonville Jewish Center at 7pm. We were fortunate enough to get a chance to ask Ravid a few questions for our blog this week and got to know the visionary artist behind the music better.
"Talent is no substitute for preparation." - 10 Questions with Musician and Arts Educator, Rashon Medlock
Rashon Medlock is an unassuming individual. Quiet and reserved, his demeanor doesn't boast the wealth of talent, knowledge, or musical dexterity he possesses. That is, until he picks up his guitar and microphone or takes a seat at his piano. It's then that the magic happens and the shy, gentle giant opens up and lets you into his world.
A musician to his core, Rashon writes, composes, and produces music - when he's not teaching music to exceptional and at risk students all around Jacksonville. He understands the value of giving back, why the arts are not only important but integral to our lives and the development of our youth, and why support in and for the community is the cornerstone of our artistic evolution in Jacksonville and beyond.
Questions? Comments? Submit something for consideration?
Please email Jihan@CulturalCouncil.org