“You never know who you’re saving; you never know what future you’re making possible…” Kelly Corrigan speaking to a packed Fox Theater in Oakland, with 1,615 people in attendance on Saturday night for the 8th annual Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. As per their format, entertainment included both writers and musicians on stage. This year featured musicians Daveed Diggs, The Head and the Heart, and Vocal Rush and writers Michael Lewis, Calvin Trillin, and writer (and event host) Kelly Corrigan. The Oakland School for the Arts Chamber Choir also performed. Notes & Words is an annual benefit concert created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland; the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provides the highest quality medical care to children throughout California. An intimate show, it shared many personal stories and perspectives by way of the personalities on stage as well as video presentations offering real context by showcasing some of the patients of the Children’s Hospital.
What: Notes & Words: Benefit For UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland at Fox Theater
Artist: Daveed Diggs
Artist: The Head and the Heart
Artist: Michael Lewis
Artist: Calvin Trillin
Artist: Kelly Corrigan
Artist: Vocal Rush
Artist: Oakland School for the Arts
Artist (After Party DJ): MC Hammer
Venue: Fox Theater
Where: Oakland, California
When: May 13, 2017
Notes & Words is an annual benefit event featuring music performances and readings, created to support the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland; the Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland provide the highest quality medical care to children throughout California.
About UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland :
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland (formerly Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland) is a premier, not-for-profit medical center for children in Northern California, and is the only hospital in the East Bay 100% devoted to pediatrics. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland affiliated with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco on January 1, 2014. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland is a national leader in many pediatric specialties including cardiology, hematology/oncology, neonatology, neurosurgery, orthopedics, and sports medicine. The hospital is one of only five ACS Pediatric Level I Trauma Centers in the state, and has one of largest pediatric intensive care units in Northern California. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland has 190 licensed beds, over 500 physicians in 43 specialties, more than 2,600 employees, and a consolidated annual operating budget of more than $500 million. UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland is also a leading teaching hospital with an outstanding pediatric residency program and a number of unique pediatric subspecialty fellowship programs.
UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland’s research arm, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI), is internationally known for its basic and clinical research. CHORI is at the forefront of translating research into interventions for treating and preventing human diseases. CHORI has 250 members of its investigative staff, a budget of about $50 million, and is ranked among the nation’s top ten research centers for National Institutes of Health funding to children’s hospitals. For more information, go to www.childrenshospitaloakland.org and www.chori.org.
The event at the Fox Theater raised $1.5 million dollars last year.
Prior to doors opening at Fox Theater at 7:30 for the main event, there was a VIP pre-party set up in a huge tent on 19th Street.
Inside, the floor in front of the stage that would be general admission standing at most shows at the venue was filled with white linen-covered round tables with chairs, as well as stylish tabletop lighting to create a classy atmosphere. Though it was created as a fundraiser, there was still very affordable seating up in the balcony above the stage.
Oakland School for the Arts and Chamber Choir & Vocal Rush
Below is the overview of the Oakland School for the Arts and Chamber Choir from the official Notes & Words site:
By popular demand, we welcome back to the Notes & Words stage our favorite resident performers, The Oakland School for the Arts Chamber Choir. You may remember this talented crew from their incredible performance last year with Chris Martin. Following their collaboration on the Notes & Words stage, the Chamber Choir was invited to perform live with Coldplay at Levi’s Stadium!
Below is the overview of Vocal Rush from the official Notes & Words site:
A national sensation and four-time national champion a cappella ensemble, Vocal Rush will blow you away with their power house vocals and beat-box rhythms. This crew of insanely talented high-schoolers has received numerous accolades in addition to their national championship titles, including a first place win at the Los Angeles A Cappella Festival, and perhaps most notably, a third place win on NBC’s hit a cappella competition show, The Sing-Off.
This incredibly gifted group could have entertained the audience on their own for hours, with a wide-ranging ensemble of individuals with their own unique talents and abilities. They performed a few times throughout the evening and really created a framework that tied everything together. Amazing.
Below is the overview of Kelly Corrigan and her accomplishments from the official Notes & Words site:
You know her as the creative force behind Notes & Words and you love her for her clever, insightful best-selling memoirs The Middle Place, Lift, and Glitter and Glue. Her books deeply resonate with readers with their delicate weave of humor and heartache. When Kelly isn’t traversing the country on book tours, interviewing thought leaders and writers for her KQED radio show, Exactly, or puzzling over the wonders of teenage daughters, you can find her in the neonatal intensive care unit holding preemie infants.
Host and organizer Kelly Corrigan introduced the “Words” element of the event, and read from her new book coming out in January, Tell Me More. She explained that it is a book that revolves around twelve sentences adult life requires, like “I was wrong”, “I don’t know”, and “good enough”. She always brings a lot of warmth to the stage and her passion for the Children’s Hospital is quite inspiring.
Below is the overview of Calvin Trillin and his accomplishments from the official Notes & Words site:
Even though he wrote the book, Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin, we can never have enough of this journalist, humorist, food writer, poet, memoirist and novelist. Although this satirist appeared on Johnny Carson more than 25 times, loves to poke fun of Americana, and is adamant that the average shelf life of a book is “between milk and yogurt,” Calvin Trillin touched our hearts with his tribute to his late wife in About Alice. Remember that feeling when Billy Collins took the stage at Notes & Words in 2013 and stole the show? It’s going to be just like that.
Calvin told an autobiographical story about growing up with his sister, “Suki the Oppressor”, which was super hilarious, with the humor compounded by his somewhat dry delivery. I really enjoyed him and his storytelling ability and skill with which he made us all laugh in a way that came off as effortless.
The Head and the Heart
- Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion)
- Charity Rose Thielen (violin, guitar, vocals)
- Matt Gervais (vocals, guitar, percussion)
- Chris Zasche (bass)
- Kenny Hensley (keyboards)
- Tyler Williams (drums)
Below is the overview of The Head and the Heart from the official Notes & Words site:
This Seattle band’s singles “Lost in My Mind” and “All We Ever Know” hit number one on the Billboard Chart and four more have been in the top ten. They come to N&W in the midst of a massive tour where they will play festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo. Rolling Stone says they “have always been admirably honest about their rustic notions of musicality, celebrating uncluttered craft, homey detail and vérité revelation.” We say they have ramshackle charm and gorgeous harmonies you are going to love.
The Head and the Heart formed in 2009 in Seattle. Their first, self-titled album was self-released and then re-released with newly recorded material by Sub Pop in 2011.
Their second album, Let’s Be Still, came out in 2013 and their latest, Signs of Light, was released last year. Founding front man Josiah Johnson is currently not touring with the band as he resolves addiction issues and is replaced by Thielen’s husband, Matt Gervais.
I have seen the band getting a lot of play and attention more and more in the past month or two, so it would seem that they are on the rise.
I really, really enjoyed their set and would love to see them perform again. A very impressive band with a unique sound with a genuine authenticity that comes through with their music.
Below is the overview of Michael Lewis and his accomplishments from the official Notes & Words site:
East Bay Wunderkind, best-selling non-fiction author, journalist and all around good guy Michael Lewis is known for riveting bestsellers like The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball and Flash Boys. No wonder so many of his amazing works have been turned into Oscar winning films. His newest book, The Undoing Project immediately went to the top all bookselling charts. Lewis is also a frequent contributing editor to Vanity Fair. We love his wit and wry humor which are sure to delight us all on May 13th.
Michael read a short story from his book, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood, in which he shares hilarious anecdotes about this weird world we live in and trying to understand it and navigate around moments of potential embarrassment… he did an excellent job of slowly dissecting his experiences with many laughs along the way. I really enjoyed his reading.
Vocal Rush made another amazing appearance as the night unfolded…
Some of Daveed Diggs’ opening remarks leading into his performance…
Thank you guys so much for donating to a hospital that has meant so much to me and to my family. My mom is here right now, actually. My little brother spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital. He had to have some operations that we could not have afforded without Children’s Hospital. Dr Robin Winokur was my pediatrician. True story. And pretty much everybody in this band and group of friends that I’m bringing out that you’re about to see have interacted with Children’s Hospital, so without further ado, let me bring out all of my insanely talented friends…
- Daveed Diggs (vocals)
- Carla Fernandez-Sota (vocals)
- Rafael Casal (vocals)
- Rashad Carter (bass)
- Samora Pinderhughes (keyboards)
- Chukwudi Hodge (drums)
Below is the overview of Daveed Diggs from the official Notes & Words site:
The actor, rapper, hip hop vocalist and songwriter is a proud Oakland boy who has hit it big in Broadway’s Hamilton, winning a Tony for playing the dual roles of the Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson. He won the 2016 Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his electrifying performance. Diggs is a prolific musician; performing in multiple rap and hip hop groups. He was recently featured in a recurring role on ABC’s Blackish and is currently producing a comedy for that network. You will want to be “in the room where it happened” when this amazing talent wows us at the Fox!
Below is a video of Daveed Diggs visiting UCSF Benioff Oakland patients on 5/12/17.
Daveed Diggs is a Grammy Award winning artist who was born in Oakland. He has an extensive career in both music and theatre.
In music, he is the vocalist for the Los Angeles-based hip hop group clipping. as well as other collaborations and projects.
Daveed and his friends performed some of the songs that they recently created together, and I was impressed with the originality of their sound.
As they finished their main set, they brought many of those who already performed for the night back on stage to do one last song together, with Sierra Williams leading them on guitar and vocals through a cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together”.
When it was all over, Kelly came back on stage to thank all involved and shared that with Daveed’s visit to the Children’s hospital and his own donation, he has become “one of our largest donors ever”.
MC Hammer & After Party
Following the pre-party and the main event, the organizers held an after party in the tent adjacent to the Fox Theater, with DJs including none other than MC Hammer (who performed this duty last year as well).
Using HUSHconcerts technology, only those wearing the special headphones could actually hear the music, so walking in, you see people dancing but hear no music whatsoever! You could change “channels” and switch back and forth between four different DJs.
As with last year, I really can’t recommend enough supporting UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. Be sure to check out their website at: