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The Opening Doors Interview Series features top national and largely BIPOC talent playing music and discussing issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
The series was created by Alastair Moock and produced by Stacey Babb in collaboration with the Anti-Racism Team of the Melrose Unitarian Universalist Church, which provided funding for guest appearance fees.
Online proceeds are split between guests and an advocacy organization of their choice.
Alastair Moock is a Boston Music Awards-nominated singer-songwriter, a 2013 Grammy nominee for children’s music, and a well-travelled performer, speaker, and educator for all ages. Moock is also a contributor to NPR’s Cognoscenti blog, where one of his pieces speaks to a year of re-examination around allyship, advocacy, and his decision to decline a second Grammy nomination in 2020. Moock was inspired to create Opening Doors by his collaborative educational program with performer Reggie Harris around race, music, and history. The fruitful conversations that he and Reggie have with kids through the program prompted Moock to engage in similar exploration in the adult realm.
January 9, 2022 – Dom Flemons
It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Dom Flemons a national treasure. Co-founder of the world famous Carolina Chocolate Drops, he is a Grammy winner, two-time Emmy nominee, and 2020 United States Artists Fellow.
Since 2014, when members of the Chocolate Drops each went their own way, Dom has evolved into a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, actor, music scholar, and historian in his own right. His latest album, 2018’s ground breaking “Dom Flemons Presents Black Cowboys” peaked at #4 on the Billboard Bluegrass charts and garnered dozens of prizes including a Grammy nomination for Best Folk Album.
Dom shared online donations from this show with the Music Maker Relief Foundation, an organization that supports marginalized artists and promotes young performers carrying on folk traditions.
December 5, 2021 – Briar & Joe Seamons
Musicians who beautifully navigate the wide range of the American musical diaspora together, their work is also deeply steeped in racial equity and education. As teachers for “The Rhapsody Project” — an organization co-founded by Joe with musician Ben Hunter — they bring an anti-racist lens to the exploration of music history, heritage, and culture in classes and camps for kids and adults.
Briar and Joe shared online proceeds from this show with The Rhapsody Project, to support their educational and community-building initiatives.
October 24, 2021 – Kelly Hall-Tompkins
Winner of a Naumburg International Violin Competition Honorarium Prize and featured in the Smithsonian Museum for African-American History, Kelly Hall-Tompkins is a soloist who has been acclaimed by The New York Times as “the versatile violinist who makes the music come alive.”
She was the lead soloist for the Grammy/Tony-nominated 2016 Broadway revival of “Fiddler on the Roof,” an experience which inspired her to develop the first ever solo disc of all new “Fiddler” arrangements, featured in the documentary film “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles.”
Kelly shared online proceeds from this show with Music Kitchen – Food for the Soul, an organization she founded to share the therapeutic power of music with those experiencing homelessness.
September 26, 2021 – Pamela Means
Veteran singer-songwriter and resident Massachusetts badass Pamela Means is an “Out(spoken), Biracial, Independent artist whose ‘kamikaze guitar style’ and punchy provocative songs have worn a hole in two of her acoustic guitars.”
Armed with the razor wit of a stand-up comic, an engaging presence, and elegant poetry, Pamela’s “stark, defiant songs” (The New York Times) set both the status quo and stage afire. Ani DiFranco says, “You groove so deep, I can’t get out. And I wouldn’t want to.”
Pamela shared online proceeds from this show with Arise for Social Justice a poor people’s rights organization based in Springfield, MA which works on issues such as housing, homelessness, criminal and environmental justice, and public health.
May 23, 2021 – Rissi Palmer
Rissi Palmer was recently featured in the New York Times as one of five artists who are “Black, female, and carving out their own path in country music.” She has performed at The White House, the Grand Ole Opry, on Oprah & Friends, and has shared the stage with Taylor Swift, The Eagles, and many more.
She is also the host of “Color Me Country Radio,” a show on Apple Music Country that explores the intersection of race and country music with guests like Darius Rucker, The War and Treaty, Brittney Spencer, and Miko Marks.
Rissi shared online proceeds from this show with the Color Me Country Artist Grant Fund, to support up and coming Americana artists of color.
April 25, 2021 – Dan and Claudia Zanes
Dan Zanes, a co-founder of the seminal Boston-based ‘80s rock band The Del Fuegos, went on to launch a solo career as “the Gold Standard in kid’s music” (NPR). He’s also a co-founder of Constructive White Conversations, an anti-racist white affinity group based in New York.
In 2016, when Dan met Haitian-American jazz vocalist and music therapist, Claudia Eliaza, he not only found a new performing partner, but a new life partner as well. The two now travel the world together, performing for families and continuing to set the bar for the genre.
Dan and Claudia shared online proceeds from this show with the Black Church Food Security Network, an organization which creates sustainable food systems across the United States that are anchored by Black churches working in partnership with Black farmers and small business owners.
March 28, 2021 – Vance Gilbert
Vance Gilbert is a Boston luminary and national folk music legend. He has travelled the world and shared stages with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Shawn Colvin, Arlo Guthrie, and George Carlin (150+ shows).
He is a performer who defies stereotype: “I’m Black, I sing, I play an acoustic guitar, and I don’t play the blues,” he says. Dirty Linen describes him simply as “among the quintessential musical poets.”
Vance shared online proceeds from this show with Food Link, a food security organization on Boston’s North Shore.