The Altadena NAACP Freedom Fund Luncheon, celebrating 30 years of service, brought the Altadena ACT-SO musicians of the past and present together. The program held at the Castaways in Burbank on Sunday June 22, 2014 was a "Salute to the Black Press" and honoring Atty. Joe C. and Ruthie Hopkins with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Paul and Juanita De Vaughn were also honored with a Community Service Award, for their tireless commitment to the community. The afternoon was filled with music from ACT-SO's current gold medal winner as well as national medal winners from the past decade to entertain as well as showcase the talent of the youth in our community.
The current gold medal winner in vocal contemporary is Chelsea Johnson, who sang and deeply affected the listeners with a soulful ballad. She will compete at the National level of ACT-SO representing Altadena in Las Vegas, NV, in conjunction with the National NAACP convention. Chelsea writes her own songs, enjoys acting and over the past year has worked as a musical therapist for the elderly. She was voted Pasadena Idol of 2012. She can be seen at local showcases, contests and private gigs. She has worked with the legendary Grammy Award winning, "A Taste of Honey". In addition to her music she writes a monthly newsletter for the Pasadena Journal centered on youth empowerment. Her love of writing has compelled her to publish her first book, Code of Ethics for Today's Teens. Chelsea recently graduated from California Virtual Academy and has been accepted to UC Berkeley.
The afternoon was punctuated with both soft and lively jazz melodies performed by ACT-SO alumnae. Daniel Richardson, alto saxophone, Michael McTaggart, electric guitar and Jonathan Richards, bass, have received individual gold awards from the Altadena ACT-SO in 2004, 2005 and 2006. They have won national medals for original music composition and classical instrumental in 2005 and 2006. They graduated from the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts. They continued their music careers and graduated from Thornton School of Music at University of University of California Berkeley, Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.
All of these young musicians, having received scholarships, have played together at venues as the Disney Hall, House of Blues, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Catalina's Bar and Grill, the Shrine Auditorium, Essentially Ellington at the Lincoln Center, New York and the Monterrey Jazz Festival and the Playboy Jazz Festival at the Hollywood Bowl. Daniel, Michael and Jonathan have won various awards given by the Dolo Coker foundation; the Pasadena Arts Council award for youth in music, the BEEM Foundation, NAMN (National Association of Negro Musician).
Daniel, Micheal and Jonathan co-produced a jazz benefit concert for the NAACP, featuring jazz artists John Clayton, Barbara Morison, and Dwight Tribble; hosted by KJAZZ 88.1's Jose Rizo.
Daniel was a finalist in jazz instrumental Music Center Spotlight Awards in April of 2006, additionally he received national recognition for best arrangement by Down Beat magazine for an arrangement for a 19 piece big band ensemble. He has toured with saxophonist Bobby Watson and played with Grammy winner Terri Lyne Carrington. In addition he has shared the stage with jazz greats such as Joe Lovano, Greg Osby.
Daniel has performed around the Los Angeles area at Catalina's, the Pasadena Jazz Institute, Spaghettini Grill & Lounge, Harold and Belle's, the Grove, the Langham Hotel as well as Boston locations. He could be heard weekly at the famous jazz club Wally's in Boston.
Jonathan and Daniel are leaders of "Wilberta", a Los Angeles-based six-piece ensemble of emerging artists performing original music drawing from jazz, rock and other genres. Daniel writes the original tunes that the band performs. The band's first EP is in process and is scheduled to be recorded later this year.
Jonathan Richards has pursued studio and film recording opportunities. He recorded with Grammy Winner Bill Cunliffe and his Big Band, featuring vocalist Freeda Payne at Capitol Records. Jonathan also recorded a live show with Bill Cunliffe Big Band at Vitello's in North Hollywood. Both albums are scheduled for release this year. Jonathan has recorded numerous film scores and has appeared playing bass on episodes of various network television shows including "Hart of Dixie", "Gilmore Girls", and "Chuck". Jonathan is a three-year member of The Southeast Symphony and is often contracted to play for other Southern California orchestras. Recently Jonathan toured in North America for five weeks with Grammy Award winning artist Van Hunt.
Michael plays the electric guitar and is gifted in jazz, rock and reggae he has traveled around the United States, playing in New York, Atlanta, and Chicago as well as abroad to The Gibson Room, in London, England.
Allisonne Crawford was a national medalist in Vocal Contemporary for Altadena ACT-SO in 1997. She performs classical, contemporary and sacred style music in our local community, county, and state. Some of her notable performances include the Pasadena Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, Pasadena Black History Gala, Pasadena Police Department Citizens Awards, The Dena Magazine Issue Release Ball at Pasadena City Hall, Lee Archer Jr. Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, LA County Fire Installation Ceremony, Pasadena City College, Bayou Classic Gala, Altadena Baptist Church, and numerous other civic groups, churches, weddings, and retirement homes. She won the Dreamgirls Catch the Dream singing contest in 2011.
Allisonne also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Music Performance and studied abroad at the University of Salzburg, Austria while an undergraduate at Chapman University (Orange, CA); Master of Arts in Educational Counseling and Pupil Personnel Services credential from Azusa Pacific University (Azusa, CA); Master of Arts in Educational Administration and Administrative Services credential from Cal State University, San Bernardino.
Former Assemblymember, Anthony J. Portantino served as the Master of Ceremonies, Jalal Sudan is the president of Altadena NAACP.
[To contact the Altadena NAACP phone (626) 794-7999 or visit: 730 E. Altadena Dr., Altadena, CA.]