June 22, 2008
J.D. Steele & Shangilia
Musician J.D. Steele performed at the PUSH Conference this year. He and his siblings started performing together as children, forming that other singing family group from Gary, Indiana.
Since then, J.D. has performed with The Steeles all over the world, and his talents as a composer, arranger and vocal artist have earned him recording contracts, awards, commissions for musicals, operas, movies and commercial jingles.
On stage, he is quietly charismatic in a zen-like way, meaning he exudes passion but is completely in his own body, controlled, relaxed and calling us all to do nothing but smile and fall into his music.
Steele's most recent project is with Shangilia, a 200 kid orphanage in Nairobi, where he has led the group in performances at the Kennedy Center and toured Tanzania, the U.S. and Greece.
It started when twenty-three children gave their first public performance at Nairobi 's National Theatre in July 1994. The occasion was the visit to Kenya of four members of the United Nation's Committee of Ten (established to monitor the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). The children's exuberant performance culminated in the building of a human pyramid from the top of which Kamau, wearing filthy tattered clothing, proclaimed the Rights of the Child.
As their site says, "the show is designed to expose and sensitize society to the rising predicament of those young lives lost on the street, sniffing glue, picking pockets and exposed to prostitution. Besides raising funds for the children's plight, performances have proved that the performing arts are effective to both rehabilitate the child in gaining self-confidence and worth, as well as demonstrate the potential of all children."
We learn about his experiences with the children through humorous stories, slides and song. Being involved with such an amazing life-changing organization, its no wonder that Steele looked rejuvenated and joyous as he sang African songs to the PUSH audience.
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