African Renewal: Music Greats Team With Development Experts

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[International News: African Renewal]

An evening with Jazz greats and international heroes was held at B.B. King’s Restaurant and Grill for the recent release of "Promises Made," a Jazz CD.

All proceeds will go to Millennium Promise, a non-profit organization dedicated to the commitment of confronting poverty in Africa. Honored at the event were: the late Academy Award winning singer-songwriter, Issac Hayes, for his humanitarian work across Africa.

Guest included Jeffrey D. Sachs, the economist and president and co-founder of Millennium Promise, John W. McArthur, chief executive officer of Millennium Promise, entrepreneur Norbert Simmons, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Kirk Whalum, Tony Award winner and Grammy-nominated Melba Moore, Chuck Mitchell, Vice President of Jazz and Adult Music at Koch Records and Issac Hayes’ daughter Veronica Hayes and son, Darius Caston.

Promises Made features Kirk Whalum, renowned Japanese pianist Takana Miyamoto, Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Take 6, veteran music producer George Duke and guitarist Earl Klugh.

“At the time, we didn’t know anything about Millennium Promise but the music led us to that obviously and when we found out about the organization and its goals – we were very happy to get involved,” said Chuck Mitchell, vice president of Koch Records, and adds about the serendipitous route of Promises Made. “It’s number five on the billboard contemporary Jazz chart the first week out. That’s very rare!”

In conjunction with Koch records and Norbert Simmons, Millennium Promise has also partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Consumer Capital Partners (CCP), KPMG LLC, Nika Water, Nitro Group, Tyson Foods and Simmons Family Foundations.

“Millennium Promise is a partnership of working with partners from around the world in the arts, businesses, in cities around the America to help Africans gain productivity to lift them selves out of poverty once and for all,” said Jeffrey Sachs, Economist and president and co-founder of Millennium Promise. “More and more of the African leaders are saying, let’s take this to a national scale, let’s take this to continental scale, and we see a true mobilization forming that is absolutely thrilling.”

Millennium Promise goals are based on the premise that by working together, they can, in this generation, end extreme poverty, hunger and preventable diseases by implementing a holistic approach, which is to work within an impoverished community by providing mosquito nets, anti-malaria medicines and other basic tools to improve the health and economics within a community.

“They are not on the ladder of economic growth. They are not on the ladder of upward mobility. They are not on any rung of the ladder. In fact, they are going backwards - further and further away from being able to access the ladder because of disease,” said saxophonist Kirk Whalum, “because of malaria, because of the lack of simple, simple things like mosquito nets,” he said and added, “It’s empowering, even for people, who in this country, who are poor, who are struggling.”

“We talk about AIDS medication and it’s down to 50 cents a day, but there are people who don’t make 50 cents a day, and if they did, they would spend it on something to eat,” said Norbert Simmons, philanthropists who visited East Africa and South Africa. “It’s poverty that’s beyond anything that we could possibly imagine.”
Issac Hayes had a similar experience when he visited Ghana for the first time and saw for himself the urgent need to do something.

“He had an experience that changed his life,” said Veronica Hayes, daughter of Issac Hayes, who is going to Ghana in November for her father’s ceremonial burial as a king. “He felt as though, in his spirit that he had come home – come full circle,” she said and added, “The children are learning and achieving the things that daddy’s foundation has stated in its mission…It’s about Africa. It’s about helping people in Africa.”

The Issac Hayes Foundation has established a 8,000 square foot educational facility in Ghana and the foundation mission is to promote “literacy music education, nutritional education, and innovative programs that raise self-esteem among the underprivileged and teach young people how to study,” as quoted by Issac Hayes.

“It’s a wonderful event because of what it is doing and also, it’s great because it keeps the music alive,” said Jeff Foxx, co-host of the morning show at 98.7 KISS-FM, who hosted a show with Issac Hayes on the same station. “The music is alive and it’s keeping people alive – like sprouting seeds over the land through sound - It’s amazing!”

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