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Singer Teaches History Of Black Music To A New Generation

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) Faye Carol has shared the stage with legends: James Brown, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye.. even Ray Charles. But for decades, she's also been inspiring children to love and learn about the music she's so passionate about.

"Because I want them to know about Duke Ellington, I want them to know about Count Basie, I want them to know about Ella Fitzgerald, I want them to know where Ray Charles came from!" she explained.

Carol says she was born to sing. It's a notion that dawned on her as a young girl in Mississippi, when her grandmother would take her to the beauty salon.

"And you get under the hair dryer, you couldn't tell you were singing loud," she remembered. "Because the hair dryer was so loud... whenever I come up from under the hair dryer all the adults would be given me money!"

For nearly 20 years, Carol ran an after-school music program called "Music in the Community" that taught thousands of East Bay children, helping them understand how modern stars trace their heritage back through music history.

"Actually, if you like Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson liked James Brown. James Brown liked Count Basie. And we could just keep going back like that and then we listen like that," she said.

Now, through a grant from the City of Oakland's Cultural Funding Program, some 600 middle school children attend her "Black Music Through The Ages" concert at Yoshi's in Oakland.

Joe Warner has been playing piano alongside Carol for the past six years.

"She lives it and does it everyday," Warner said. "She goes out to the schools in West Oakland, East Oakland, Pittsburgh, Berkeley, and connects with the students who really need to hear what she has to offer."

Carol says she feeds off the children's energy, and the fact that kids she's taught are now bringing their own students to listen and learn.

"So this music will live on in infamy. It will just go on and on and on as it should. And it will grow and grow and grow, as it should," she said.

So for teaching the history of black music to children in the Bay Area, this week's Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Faye Carol.

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