Nothing makes us prouder at West Music than learning about educators who dedicate their lives to musical development. We love hearing from our customers about their students' accomplishments, and finding out new ways to enrich people's lives with the power of music. One such individual is music director Sundiata Kata, who on October 20th, 2011, received the great honor of being dedicated with the Sundiata Kata Music Center from the San Diego Center for Children. The Center allows for more children and teens to participate in beneficial music activities. The expansion was helped in part by a $45,000 grant that was presented by the San Diego Women’s Foundation earlier this year.
The ribbon cutting event included performances by children and teens at The Center, including solo pieces and dance routines. San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders attended and presented a city proclamation commemorating October 20th, 2011 as "Sundiata Kata Day" in San Diego. A representative from Supervisor Ron Roberts’ office also served a proclamation honoring this day as "Sundiata Kata Day" in San Diego County. Additionally, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf commented on how many lives Kata had positively influenced throughout the past four decades.
Brad Perry of KUSI San Diego interviewing Sundiata Kata
Music Director Sundiata Kata has worked at the San Diego Center for Children for more than 42 years and has harnessed the power of music and rhythm to help Center students adopt new ways of dealing with their anger, emotions and suffering. The powerful inspiration of music is changing the lives of children at the San Diego Center for Children, restoring trust and hope in children who have suffered abuse, trauma, or have severe emotional and behavioral problems. Through music, these children are coping with their pain and aggressions.
The musical activities help reduce stress and were developed to be a creative outlet for the challenging emotions that the children process on a daily basis. Through the San Diego Center for Children’s hands-on music program, children and adolescents can express themselves and sense feelings of accomplishment. Kata sees more than 100 students each week, having them participate in drum circles and choir. He and his staff provide jazz and rock music lessons, and teach students express creatively what they've seen in their lives through an apt musical form: the blues.
About the Sundiata Kata Music Center
The Sundiata Kata Music Center has created a safe environment for musical expression at the San Diego Center for Children. Sundiata believes that music promotes healing and wellness in everyone. When children apply any of the arts to their lives, they have the power to transcend all cultural barriers that can open dialogs for communication and healing for the world's most troubled children and youth.
Sundiata Kata works with students
The Children’s Learning Academy is on the grounds of the San Diego Center for Children. The music programs provide musical instruction for all the students who attend classes such as our school choir “Kids With a Song,” African Drum Ensemble, ukulele, guitar, audio recording classes using Pro Tools 10, “Blues Thursday” and open mic talent jam, voice lesions, improvisational music, recreational music making, and drama. The Sundiata Kata Music Center also provides musical services for the after school Wellness Program, new hire orientation using HealthRhythms as a tool for helping children of trauma, the adolescent protocol teen girls program, and for all agency staff and administration to experience HealthRhythms.
For more information, visit their website at www.centerforchildren.org.
About Sundiata Kata
Sundiata grew up in a musical family. His mother was a Jazz/Gospel singer and people were always around playing music, singing, or listening to music. When he was five, his kindergarten class asked him to sing the Lords Prayer for graduation.
As Sundiata grew older, his mother would play the piano and while he would sing at church service. He attended East High school, where he sang in the school choir, played piano in a Jazz Trio, and had a group that sang soul music in the vein of The Temptations. Between the ages of 12 and 18, he was the lead singer in a church quartet called the “Monarchs”.
While living in Columbus, Ohio as a child, Sundiata loved to drum, and would play on coffee cans, oatmeal boxes and pretty much anything that produced a good sound. He was enthralled with how the sound of drumming would echo off the walls of the apartments and fill the open areas across the court in Poindexter Village. Those fond memories from his childhood continue to inspire him to this day.
Before moving to San Diego in 1969, Sundiata was playing piano and learning Afro Cuban drum rhythms. He would sit in and jam with different local bands in the area who were in the Jazz and Latin music scene. In 1977, he traveled to West Africa before returning later and studying and playing with several traditional West African Dance Companies. His first job in San Diego was with the San Diego Children’s Home where he was hired as a Child Development Counselor. Mrs.Tolliver, a friendly lady from Trinidad who worked at the Service Center, took it upon herself to find the right job for him. She asked what type of work he was interested in, to which he replied that he wanted to continue working with young people. His response came from his experience working with troubled inner city youth in Columbus prior to moving to San Diego.
According to Sundiata, his teaching lives by a simple mantra: "it’s not about you, it’s about the children." We here at West Music applaud your contributions and efforts to the musical well-being of children, and we look forward to hearing more about your work in the future!