SJSA Alumni Take Stage on January 4 for First Event in 2013 Concert Series

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Don’t miss the chance to hear some of the most talented and accomplished St. John School of the Arts alumni back at their old stomping grounds on Saturday, January 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the arts school.

The SJSA Alumni Concert is the first event of the Sis Frank Concert Series — which consists of five concerts — and is sure to kick off the season with a bang.

The concert will feature some of the original members of Steel Unlimited, the youth steel pan band which launched SJSA in the first place, explained the school’s executive director Kim Wild.

“We have to remember that the school started because of the success of Steel Unlimited, which was the youth pan orchestra back in the 1970s,” said Wild. “That band had Lynell and Tony Callwood, Earl Thomas and Phillip ‘Grasshopper’ Pickering. Sis Frank was the manager and Rudy Wells was the director of Steel Unlimited.”

That first Love City youth steel band was known at the “pride and joy of St. John” and played at venues from Disneyland to Lincoln Center. Out of Steel Unlimited’s success grew the concept to create SJSA and through private donations, land was acquired in 1981. A decade later, thanks to mostly volunteer labor, the art school building was completed.

Since then, SJSA has been offering music and dance classes both private and in-school, hosting concerts and more for the youth and adults of St. John. Over those years, many of the school’s alumni have gone onto successful careers in the arts. January 4 is an opportunity for some of those distinguished alumni to take to the very stage where those careers first began.

“We have been thinking about doing an alumni concert for some time,” said Wild. “When we brought back the Sis Frank Concert Series we decided to add an alumni concert and started putting the word out. I had so many great responses that I decided to go ahead and put the show together.”

The night will feature original Steel Unlimited members Tony Callwood, Lynell Callwood and Phillip “Grasshopper” Pickering, who will perform both with the pan orchestra and with his hugely popular St. John reggae band Inner Visions.

Also scheduled to perform at the SJSA Alumni Concert are singers Evanna Chinnery and Sage Buchalter, Jazz saxophonist Jonte Samuel, panist Eric Provost and dancer Savannah Lyons.

Additional alumni who had hoped to take part, like Victor Provost, had scheduling conflicts and could not attend, Wild explained.

SJSA is also hoping to be able to contact more former students through the alumni concert, Wild added.

“There are so many other alumni out there that I haven’t been able to get in touch with,” she said. “I’m hoping through this that we’ll connect with more alumni and get them involved in future events.”

Wild would love to hear from anyone with information about former SJSA students, she explained.

“We would love to share updates on our former students at the alumni concert,” said Wild.

Tickets for the five concert Sis Frank Concert Series are $125. The other concerts in the series are Benjamin Beilman on February 11, Shel on March 6, Trio Arbos on March 14, and the SJSA Faculty Concert on April 15.
Tickets for just the January 4 SJSA Alumni Concert are $30 and can be purchased on the school’s website at www.stjohnschoolofthearts.org. or at the school.

SJSA officials expect this concert to sell out, so attendees are asked to buy their tickets in advance. To share information about former SJSA students, call Wild at 779-4322.