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Take 6 headlining Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music & Arts fundraiser

Patrice Rushen to be honored with Center’s 2023 Make Them Hear You Award

Scott Haas
Take 6 headlining Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music & Arts fundraiser
Take 6 PHOTO: John Abbott

The Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music & Arts is holding its annual “Make Them Hear You” fundraiser Sunday, Feb. 26 at 6 p.m. at Berklee Performance Center in the Back Bay. A $250 donation to Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music & Arts offers front-section VIP seating and an exclusive champagne after-party and a meet-and-greet with Take 6 and Patrice Rushen (after the show at Berklee Performance Center) at Rochambeau restaurant, 900 Boylston St. 

Hosted by Dr. Emmett G. Price III, dean of Africana studies at Berklee College of Music, the event will feature a performance by the a cappella group Take 6 and will honor singer, pianist and composer Patrice Rushen with the Center’s 2023 Make Them Hear You Award. The evening is focused on providing future artistic resources for Boston’s youth.

Singer, pianist and composer Patrice Rushen will be honored with the 2023 Make Them Hear You Award. PHOTO: BOBBY HOLLAND

Now heading into its 21st year, the Roxbury-based Hamilton-Garrett Center for Music and Arts was established by Charles Street AME Church congregation members Ruth Hamilton and Elta Garrett to foster youth who are eager to learn about Black musical traditions. Executive Director Gerami Groover-Flores was one of its initial students. Now, she is leading the school into a more active role in the community. 

“Our real focus is expanding in a variety of ways,” Groover-Flores tells the Banner. “We want to increase enrollment in our classes among youth in the Boston area and create opportunities for community engagement. We have the all-girls chorus ensemble and the school’s drumline. We have also developed a collaboration with the Center of Africana Studies at Berklee College of Music.”

Take 6, performing the evening’s concert, has won numerous Grammy awards for Best Contemporary Soul Gospel Album, Best Jazz Vocal Performance and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals; the latter award came about for the group’s work with Stevie Wonder on his recording, “Love’s in Need of Love Today.” Take 6 is now made up of Claude V. McKnight III, Mark Kibble, David Thomas, Joel Kibble, Khristian Dentley and Alvin Chea.

“Being artists who have remained on the forefront of music for many years, Take 6 knows success doesn’t just happen in a vacuum or by accident. We are only here because someone took the time to help us,” says Chea. “And because we were helped, we now look for ways to pull up our future leaders and pioneers. When we heard that the Hamilton-Garrett Music and Arts Center was holding a benefit, it was only natural that we’d want to step up. Their organization is committed to the development of Boston’s next generation of innovative artists through the celebration and preservation of Black music. Celebrating love and music to secure a cultural legacy is what we’re both about. Take 6 is all in.”

Rushen, the evening’s honoree, is no stranger to Boston, having been given an honorary doctorate at Berklee in 2005, where she taught and mentored students. Among her students was Groover-Flores.

“Patrice took me under her wing when I was a student at Berklee as an undergraduate studying contemporary writing and production,” Groover-Flores says. “I developed a strong relationship with her as a Black female mentor. That relationship gave me confidence I have today.”

Rushen is currently chair of popular music at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and serves as ambassador of artistry in education at Berklee. Renowned for her work as a composer and pianist, she has demonstrated an ongoing ability to educate and encourage emerging musicians.

“Students can benefit from the commingling of the music industry,” Rushen tells the Banner. “Everyone has to be aware of the contexts in the industry, to develop awareness of the varying expertise and to recognize that we all connected in the work as artists. To understand, for example, that being a better bass player affects the whole. The biggest challenge is understanding how each area  of the industry affects what we do as individual musicians.”

One avenue the Hamilton-Garrett Center is taking to inculcate Rushen’s philosophy and its own aims as a community center for young musicians is to partner with Berklee College of Music. The fundraiser serves to help make the combined goals fiscally possible.

“We aim to be a very community-based organization,” Groover-Flores says, “[and] to include Berklee’s Africana studies program’s mission statement of expanding African American musical traditions. We see ourselves as a bridge between community and academic halls.”

Tickets to the fundraising event are priced at $32.50, $42.50, $52.50 and $100 and are on sale online at www.etix.com,