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Albina Music Trust


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Includes 12-pg booklet.

On May 2, 1982 the Youthsound Choir and Stage Band performed at Portland’s Jefferson High School. With youth ranging from elementary through high school, this 100-voice mass choir under the direction of Ken Berry was poised to sing an array of uptempo spirituals. Their backing big band contained a who’s who of Albina’s adult musicians interspersed with youth. The feeling in the air was electric. An audience of 1,500 had awaited this moment - along with the city’s fire marshall, insisting that maximum capacity had been reached.

The story of Youthsound is the story of resilience, mentorship, and mutual aid. According to band mentor Ronnye Harrison, “We didn’t wait around for the city or anyone else because we knew no one was coming. We just needed a place to rehearse that was safe for the kids and where their families felt safe.”

This is also the story of The World Arts Foundation. Youthsound is one of many programs that comprise WAF’s legacy. Later evolving into the Cultural Recreation Band and then the American Music Program, Youthsound marks the beginning of a legacy that has produced musicians such as Esperanza Spaulding, Charlie Brown III, and Domo Branch.

True to AMT’s release format, this vinyl package contains a 12-page booklet featuring archival photography and a detailed oral history of the group - executive produced by Ken Berry, and with design and art direction by Brian Mumford and Bobby Smith respectively. Originally broadcast on community radio and cable access, the recording by Thomas Robinson and Evan Shales (The Wipers, The Rats) has been masterfully preserved by Gus Elg from a variety of source tapes. The backing band here is heavy, featuring members of nearly every band released in AMT’s catalog - not to mention members of Pleasure, the pianist Janice Scroggins, and the Ghanaian master drummer Obo Addy.

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