*This article was published in the EPA Today website September 2015.*
Positivity, wonderful art, and the smell of coffee dominated the atmosphere at Cafe Zoe. The small coffee shop was filled to the brim with supporters of the event, Into the Eyes of East Palo Alto, which took place there on August 28, 2015. The project premiere featured the music, illustrations, photography, and more of eleven of East Palo Alto’s very own Youth Action Team.
The MC for the evening was Isaiah Phillips who charmed the audience with his own vocal talent. His positive outlook on life was captivating. Before singing one of his songs, dedicated to his mother who passed away earlier this year, he asked the audience not say “aww.” Instead, he asked that everyone stay positive and happy.
Performances included the works of Freddy Lopez, a local rapper, who had people in the audience bobbing their heads to the rhythm of his music; Mele Teu, a talented singer/songwriter who harmonized elegantly with her sisters on stage; and poetry by Kalamu Chache, who had everyone chanting her name.
The artists’ work was displayed along the walls of the café. Guests were invited to listen to the artists’ self-narrated stories that were available via tablets at each station.
Later in the evening, Isaiah Phillips made an important announcement: land has officially been purchased to start building a youth center. The plan is to have it ready in the next three years. The center will provide opportunities for East Palo Alto’s youth to explore their own artistic talents.
The artists’ audio portraits can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/1hP0kiN. Their art work will continue to be displayed for another month at Café Zoe, which is located at 1929 Menalto Avenue in Menlo Park.