A music festival Saturday in Fairview Heights is the brainchild of educators Denise Williams and daughter Andrea Wilson-Vickers.
The duo run the Broadcast Center, a not-for-profit group working with underprivileged youth in the metro-east. The goal of the Y.E.A.H. Music Festival is not only to offer a cultural event for the area, but expose kids to great entertainment and hopefully raise funds.
“We provide educational, artistic and cultural experiences” for kids, said Denise, 64, of the nonprofit center. She is a Fairview Heights alderwoman who is a retired teacher and former St. Louis radio newscaster. Andrea, 42, also of Fairview Heights, has been a teacher in East St. Louis District 189.
It’s always been a dream to do a festival like this in the area.
Linda Lawson, executive producer of Y.E.A.H. Music Festival
Never miss a local story.
The Y.E.A.H. Music Festival, which stands for Youth Empowerment for the Arts and Harmony, is a free event for all ages from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at Moody Longacre Park in Fairview Heights. Eight music artists and groups will take the stage, including headliner Oleta Adams, a soul, jazz and gospel singer and pianist. Other performers include Erin Bode, Andre Delano, Phyllis Talley, Joe Mancuso and Brianna Elise and Gabbii.
“It’s always been a dream to do a festival like this in the area,” said Linda Lawson, the executive producer of the event. “We hope to make it an annual event.”
Food and drink vendors will be on hand and if you don’t want to bring your blanket or lawn chair, reserved seating for $20 is available the day of the festival.
Denise and Andrea started the Broadcast Center, NFP, in 2004. They spend their summers working with about 20 preteens and teens during six- and eight-week sessions. They focus on communication skills, conflict resolution, as well as providing tutoring and mentoring. Parents and guardians are involved as well.
The nonprofit center has purchased used audio and video equipment that is put to use by the students. They work on creative skills, including writing, photography, film-making and editing. Linda, a freelance broadcast journalist who lives in East St. Louis, has taught journal writing.
In 2004, for example, a dozen young people attended the opening of the Bill Clinton Presidential Library in Arkansas, where they filmed and photographed part of the ceremony and interviewed attendees.
Another project, called S.O.S. (Situations, Options and Solutions) is all about everyday life, said Denise.
“Perhaps they’re being bullied, or there’s not enough food to eat or there’s abuse,” she said. “First, they write their story down, then they act it out.”
The students film and edit the performance. Then they talk about how to reach out to the community to solve the problem.
“We hope to have a showing — we have some in the can — but we don’t have the equipment,” Denise added.
She said keeping the nonprofit center going has been a challenge because it doesn’t have a permanent home. For several years, programs were run out of the Jackie Joyner Kersee Center in East St. Louis.
“We have also used my church (St. Luke A.M.E. Church in East St. Louis) during the summer,” she said. “We hope to get our own facility in the near future.”
Just as important is future community involvement, she said.
“It would be nice if we made some money, but we also need board members.”
For more information, contact Denise Williams at 618-310-4861 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
At a glance
Here’s what you need to know about the Y.E.A.H. Music Festival:
- What: Jazz, gospel, soul and secular performances from area artists and music groups. Y.E.A.H. stands for Youth Empowerment for the Arts and Harmony.
- When: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Moody Longacre Park, 525 S. Ruby Lane, Fairview Heights
- Cost: Free. VIP reserved seating is $20 day of event
- Parking: Available at park. Free shuttle from Fairview Heights MetroLink and St. Clair Square beginning at 10:30 a.m.
- Services: Food trucks; soft drinks and adult beverages. No outside food or drink allowed. Bring blankets and lawn chairs.
- Organized by: The Broadcast Center, a not-for-profit in Fairview Heights