Will Kennedy, an alumnus of the Young Musicians Program at Berkeley and currently drummer for the Grammy Award-winning jazz group the Yellowjackets, wants to give something back to the program that helped make his dreams "bigger than I ever imagined."
The Yellowjackets will appear with the Dave Ellis Quintet--tenor saxophonist Dave Ellis participated as an auditor in the Young Musicians summer program--at Zellerbach Hall on Saturday, May 4, at 8 p.m. to kick off the program's 1996 Alumni Benefit Concert Series.
Since 1968, the Young Musicians Program has provided gifted, low-income students from Bay Area elementary and high schools with the opportunity to receive professional training in music.
Kennedy, who has recorded and performed with such recording stars as Lee Ritenour, Herbie Hancock, Diane Schuur and Narada Michael Walden, credits the musicians program with developing his musical potential.
"As a youngster with the opportunity to take music classes at a renowned university, I was slapped with an attitude adjustment," Kennedy recalled. "I realized that it would take discipline and dedication to realize my dream of becoming a professional in the music industry."
Today, many program graduates are among the rising young stars in fields ranging from opera and classical music to jazz, gospel and popular music.
Kennedy, who is currently playing in selected cities throughout the country with the Yellowjackets, has been busy with his other involvements, including appearances at music clinics held in public schools.
He also manages his own company, Kalabash Productions, which enables him to use his songwriting and studio production talents.
Other program graduates who will headline at upcoming benefit concerts include Joshua Redman, Michael Wolff and Benny Green.
Proceeds from the benefit concert series will help secure the program's future.
Tickets for May 4 concert are $14, $24 and $28 and can be purchased in advance at Zellerbach Hall ticket office. Students and senior discounts are available. VIP seating and reception is $50 patron, $100 benefactor.