Jack Black And Stephen Stills Headline Autism Benefit Concert At The Grove
Jack Black and Stephen Stills headlined the “Autism is Awesome” benefit concert, Tuesday, in support of The Miracle Project—an arts program dedicated
Celebrities in attendance included the kids from HBO’s Emmy-winning documentary “AUTISM: The Musical,” as well as, Ethan Zohn, Jenna Morsaca, Max Burkholder, Ashley Rickards, and Ed Asner. Actress, Holly Robinson Peete, was honored for her dedication to the autism community.
The performance night's was recorded and will air on ABC this fall on “Everyday Health,” a new series from the producers of “The Biggest Loser.” It will provide a message to families with autistic children depicting kids and young adults with autism, and how they have made differences in their communities. The concert was packed with about 500 people. It was great exposure for the Miracle Project.
Miracle kids got the performance of a lifetime by watching Jack Black, Wyatt Isaacs, and Stephen Stills perform. They also received the no “pay to play” treatment when they performed and enjoyed a large attentive audience that encouraged each performer.
It was truly a thrilling night as ten autistic kids, of different ages and ethnicities took the stage. The show opened with a song called “Make Some Music”—an up-tempo, energetic piece. Next, a sweet girl, Lexi, sang a duet with another kid who rapped to a song reminiscent of the hit tune “Airplanes.” This song was excellently produced and delivered. Next, a teenage girl, Talina, sang an energetic piece with background dancers. Right after her was a teenage boy, Kyle, who looked like the younger version of Jack Black. He nicely played a tune on his acoustic guitar, “Not So Easy.” It was a crowd favorite, and it was simple and meaningful. The next performance, a kid came up with his mom, who talked about how much The Miracle Project has helped him. It was a touching story. Immediately, two kids—one rapper, and a singer—hit the stage and performed the song “Malfunction.” It was well received by the audience, as it sounded like a Top 40 tune. Next, teenage guitarist—Scott, performed a rock ballad. At first very quiet, and then Scott blew the audience away with his outstanding vocals at the end. A cello player, with great personality, commanded the audience to quiet down before playing, then waved his hands to signal that he wanted applause. He started playing a beautiful classical piece a capella and was quite good. During the concert, each of the autistic kids gave us what they had for skills, stage presence and devotion to their performance, all of which was moving to see and hear. Each gave new, refined meaning to the term Autism is Awesomism!!
While the audience enjoyed the children enormously, the big moment came when Jack Black, Wyatt Isaacs, and Stephen Stills performed “Sensitive.” It was great, and Black, of course, was his ever-charming self. It was “The School of Rock” all over again. You can watch Black, Stills, and Isaacs in the studio recording this song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6RjS7g-XWo.
The show didn’t end here. For the finale all the kids took the stage and sang a song about world peace. Each of them did their own thing—singing and dancing. It was a great delight to see these kids having fun.
Throughout the show, there were a few technical difficulties, and some of the kids were a bit shy. All of them had different levels of autism, and some were more enthusiastic and performance driven than others. However, seeing these kids show their wonderful talents and share their touching stories was uplifting and something not to be missed. In between each of the songs, Isaacs and Max Burkholder from “Parenthood” performed short skits which were priceless! The two kids included humorous dialogue between themselves, and they had a charming way of introducing the next performing artist. If you can catch a show in the near future, it is encouraged. Don’t forget to watch last night’s performance will be on ABC this fall on “Everyday Health.”
To learn more about The Miracle Project or to attend a concert, visit www.themiracleproject.org. They can also be found on Twitter @autism_miracles. Remember, Autism is Awesomism!
Reach reporter Ruth Bram here.
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