On October 11th, The Anthem was brightened by the presence of Mavis Staples, Norah Jones and Katy Perry. They, and other performers, were highlighting a specific issue, using meditation to ‘Silence the Violence’ in local communities in DC’s Wards 7 and 8.
The benefit concert was organized by the David Lynch Foundation, in collaboration with THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus). The goal was to raise funds to teach the transcendental meditation technique to 10,000 at-risk youth in DC, to help reduce arrests for violence, through in-school and after school programs, churches and community centers.
Since it was a fundraiser, here is a link to donate if you want to help.
The Anthem was filled with cushioned seats on the main floor and in the balconies, for those dressed to impress in suits and dresses.
Although not completely full, there was a good crowd, and over two hours, we got a mix of chats about the cause, videos showing testimonials, and of course, the music.
Jeremy Elliott started off the musical portion with a single song.
Bob Roth, the CEO of the David Lynch Foundation, and Rahsaan Bernard, President of Building Bridges Across the River (which includes THEARC), acted as the hosts, talking throughout the concert, about their respective work, and about the goal to teach 10,000 youth meditation.
The highlight from the music sets was having a chance to see Mavis Staples live. Wow, at age 80, she can still belt out her songs. Still seemingly young and vibrant, belying her age, she sang her heart out over four songs, with The Celebration Gospel Choir in the background, including the first song her father ever taught her, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, a cover of a William MacEwan song. Maybe the highlight of all the songs over the night was the song she recorded with her family, The Staple Singers, “I’ll Take You There”. We were taken there, and it was good.
The main reason this event was on my radar was Norah Jones. It’s been since 2012 (at Wolf Trap) that I saw her perform live. I was a little disappointed at first that it was only a mini-set within a broader event, but if it hadn’t joined, I would have missed the chance to see Mavis and Katy Perry. Norah also performed four songs, and she joked about getting her piano seat just right. She also did a cover, Neil Young’s “Don’t Be Denied”, and ended with one of her staples, “Don’t Know Why”.
Katy Perry can legitimately sing, with an incredibly powerful voice. As the ‘headliner’, she performed five songs and told a few stories about how transcendental meditation had changed her life and made her a better and more focused person. And how Bob Roth was the person that taught her the technique in India about 10 years ago. Katy was also dressed to impress, in a big, white gown (with black polka dots), and she was also backed up by the Choir. The highlights were “Roar” and a mashup of the song “Oh Happy Day”, which led into a fiery rendition of “Firework”. Did I say she can sing?
Overall a good time, and I learned a few things to consider about meditation, which I currently don’t do. Below, find more info on the organizations, as well as the setlists.
THEARC (Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus)
THEARC is part of the wider initiative Building Bridges Across the River (BBAR) and was built in 2005 as a state-of-the-art facility located in DC’s Ward 8. THEARC offers the opportunity for families living east of the Anacostia River to receive world class services directly within the community.
David Lynch Foundation
In 2005, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace began, with the goal that every child anywhere in the world who wanted to learn to meditate could do so. Now, the Foundation is actively teaching TM to adults and children in countries everywhere, including in DC at THEARC.
Transcendental Meditation is a simple technique, which you do for 20 minutes twice a day. Bob Roth was also very forthright that its not a religion or lifestyle, but rather a way to get the mind to experience a calm, peaceful level of awareness. Katy Perry gushed about it, telling the audience that mediation has been the #1 thing to help change her life over the last ten years. Previous research has shown that TM reduces stress, heals PTSD, lowers substance abuse, improves academic performance and graduation rates, and reduces arrests for violent crime.
Just A Little Bit
Don’t Be Denied (Neil Young cover)
I’ve Got To See You Again
Don’t Know Why
The Celebration Gospel Choir
Lean On Me (Kirk Franklin cover)
Mavis Staples (with The Celebration Gospel Choir)
Will The Circle Be Unbroken (William MacEwan cover)
The Weight (The Band cover)
I’ll Take You There (The Staple Singers song)
Chained to the Rhythm
Oh Happy Day/Firework