Blog: Willie Mae Rock Camp's 'Rhythm and Soul'
Since 2004, the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls has been empowering the lives of young girls by encouraging them to be mentored, to develop intellectually, and to mature creatively through the use of music. Over the years the non-profit organization has evolved from a week long summer Rock Camp for Girls from ages 8 to 18 to also include a three day music and mentoring seminar for adult women called the Ladies Rock Camp and a year round community music and mentoring center in Brooklyn called the Willie Mae Music Lab. Tuesday night, the Willie Mae Rock Camp partnered with some of New York City’s highest profile chefs to host “Rhythm & Soul: A Celebrity Chef Tasting Event” at the posh Loft at Tribeca Grill. The two plus hour event would feature an evening of live music, dancing, drinks, and food samples all to help raise funds for these young women.
“Rhythm & Soul” kicked off with a special half hour cocktail reception and meet and greet with the chefs for VIP ticketholders. Guests schmoozed with the likes of Chef Aaron Sanchez (The Next Iron Chef) and wife Ife Sanchez Mora (singer/songwriter), Chef Chris Santos (The Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex), Chef Amanda Freitag (fmr. The Harrison), Chef Maneet Chauhan (The Next Iron Chef), and representatives of Chef Geoffrey Zakarian (The Lambs Club, The National), each of whom prepared a signature dish on the spot. Attendees were also encouraged to kick in some more by way of raffle prizes which included a Gibson guitar, brunches for four, and a weekend getaway to Vermont, all of which (sadly) eluded us.
Once the evening was in full swing, the chic Loft was completely filled by excited guests in the shadows of a projected slide show revealing much of the charitable work being done by the folks at the Rock Camp. Bartenders also graciously donated their time pouring drinks both basic and intricate to the thirsty bunch- it was a celebration after all. And while the Chefs may have been the drawing card to the event (Chef Freitag’s ‘Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese’ was our favorite), not once did the energetic evening lose sight of the many girls and women that benefit from the Camp’s existence. The highlight of “Rhythm & Soul” came as four young girls each donned instruments and performed an originally penned song to the delight of the many onlookers on hand. ‘Full Moon,’ as they were called absolutely overwhelmed the astonished crowd, exhibiting just some of what they learned as campers in this live setting.
Following some welcoming speeches by members of the Rock Camp’s board, comedian and drag king performer Murray Hill, and by Chef Sanchez, who is indelibly intertwined with the Camp, the evening turned into an all out dance party, with nary an empty spot on the floor for non-moving feet. The lively and exuberant dance floor was a simple metaphor of the effects that music seems to have on all of us and watching women young and old happily busting a move together in unison allowed us a poignant moment to take a step back and appreciate the efforts and the benefits of the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. And the important role that they play in the lives of these young women.
To learn more about the Willie Mae Rock Camp For Girls, check out williemaerockcamp.org.
- Jane Van Arsdale