Former 'American Idol' star to perform at annual music event in Pittsburg
Written by Damin Esper For the Contra Costa Times
PITTSBURG -- Los Medanos College will host its annual Gospel Celebration on Saturday night, with special guest La Toya London, who drew national attention for her 2004 stint on "American Idol."
The concert, a fundraiser for the choral department, will take place on campus at the Recital Hall beginning at 7 p.m.
Los Medanos Gospel Choir Director Silvester Henderson said that with the state facing a major budget crisis, he would like to see not only a big turnout Saturday but also some political pressure from music fans.
"We're just asking people if they feel it is something that is valuable to support us not only by coming but write letters to our local politicians because we're facing a lot of problems with the budget situation," he said. "During budget times, there are generally concerns, especially about the humanities. And music is the humanities. This is our most popular program for our campus and for this district."
Henderson said he has to battle the idea that music is an "extra" that we just can't afford anymore.
"For some reason, there is a misconception that performing arts are not academic," he said. "My daughter performs in a production of 'Wicked.' People don't understand that people who do performing arts have a much more intense life than someone who might be an English major. Music is part of academics.
This is the 17th annual event. Vessels Of Honor will be the featured guests. The group is based in
Pasadena, but it consists mostly of former UC Berkeley students who studied under Henderson when he was a professor there.
Other scheduled performers include the LMC Gospel Choir, Shana Maxwell & Friends, Casey & Erica Pringle, the Praise Fellowship Bible Church's Praise Ensemble, Jeffrey Scott and Kevin Moore.
Henderson said he always tries to have a professional musician at the top of the bill to show his students what they can achieve. London is this year's choice.
She was born in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland, making it onto the third season of "American Idol," where many fans believed she was prematurely eliminated after making the final four. Since then, she has released "Love & Life," which made the top 200 Billboard albums chart, and performed in the play, "The Color Purple."
Henderson said he started the event to bring a diverse community together.
"We're just hoping to find funding and continue it," he said. "It allows the students to showcase their talent; it allows the community to come to the campus, and it allows the students and community to interact with professional musicians."
IF YOU GO
What: Los Medanos College's annual Gospel Celebration
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Los Medanos College, 2700 E. Leland Road, Pittsburg
Tickets: $15 in advance and $17 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the LMC choral department at 925-439-0200 or 925-439-2181, ext. 3249.