Platinum recording artist, Ruben Studdard, went to the 250,000 square foot Dallas, TX-based Black Academy of Arts & Letters (TBAAL) over two years ago to perform at its annual King concert celebration and fell in love with the non-profit organization. “They treat you really well at The Academy,” says Studdard. “They are the ultimate professionals and they do so much good work keeping kids off the street and getting them involved in music and acting and other things.”
When the 35-year old organization’s youth program lost a couple of the grants keeping it afloat, TBAAL’s founder Curtis King decided to record a live CD to raise money for the youth program.
“I reached out to Ruben and other celebrities who have been through TBAAL and asked them to sing on this live recording,” says King. “Ruben was one of the first people to say he’d do it and we appreciate all he has done to help push the project. In a bad economy the first thing that gets cut is arts funding. However, it’s the plays, concerts, poetry readings and other programming we offer that helps people get through rough times like these. So, we’re thrilled that these artists came together to make a CD that will raise money to keep these programs going for our youth.”
The first radio single from the set is Studdard’s smooth gospel tune “Medicine (For Someone Else)”that is gaining traction at gospel radio stations. “My all time favorite artist is Fred Hammond and I grew up singing gospel,” he says. “The message of the song is a strong one and it’s a message that we all need to hear. We should all be medicine for the other people in our lives.” Studdard recently performed the song on the nationally syndicated “The Tom Joyner Morning Show” and also sang the ballad “Teach Me To Love” on the album. In talking with Studdard about TBAAL and the CD, Joyner said: “A great organization by the way that I’ve supported through the years.”
The majority of the songs on the13-track, “Medicine – Live At The Black Academy of Arts and Letters” (MCG Records/ $13.99 SRLP), were written or co-written by Sam “Shake” Anderson – a bassist who has toured with the likes of Ray Charles and Curtis Mayfield. It was recorded live before an ecstatic, diverse and capacity-crowd at The Black Academy. Backed by the 80-voice Black Academy Choir, the collection also features performances from Jasmine Guy (from “A Different World”), Ann Nesby (former lead singer for The Sounds of Blackness), Yarbrough & Peoples (best known for their 1981 #1 R&B smash “Don’t Stop The Music”) and Tommie Young West who appeared on Bishop T.D. Jakes’ ground-breaking “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” CD. Although, The Black Academy has been a fixture on Dallas’ local arts scene for over three decades, the organization also has a national standing. Its 1987 fundraising CD by Eartha Kitt entitled, “My Way: Musical Tribute To Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” (Caravan of Dreams) sold over 250,000 copies. Visit www.tbaal.org for more information.
Here is a flashback to his duet with Deitrick Haddon- “Love Him Like I Do”