By MIYA IWATAKI
A coalition of Japanese American organizations is bringing top artists to headline a concert to benefit children seeking asylum on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 8 p.m. at the Aratani Theatre, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.
“We Got Your Back … Pack” seeks to raise enough funds to purchase 400 backpacks filled with basic necessities such as toothbrushes, soap, blankets, etc. to assist children and their migrant families who are released from detention with no resources.
Proceeds will also be used to assist with shelter and travel, according to Nikkei Progressives, which is leading this effort. NP and partnering organizations in the Japanese American and wider progressive movement oppose the policies of detaining migrants and separating families, while drawing parallels between what is occurring now and the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
“We Got Your Back … Pack” showcases popular artists and performers who support this effort and who understand that art can be used for social justice. Featured artists include The Quetzal Quartet, members of the Grammy-winning Quetzal Band, an exciting group that plays a mix of Mexican and Afro-Cuban rhythms, jazz, R&B, and rock music, supercharged by the dynamic vocals of lead singer and composer Martha Gonzalez.
The band was founded in 1992 by Quetzal Flores, who, with Martha Gonzalez, share a commitment for using art as a tool for social change. Members of the quartet are Quetzal (guitar), Gonzalez (lead vocals, percussion), Juan Perez (bass), and Tylana Enomoto (violin).
Also headlining the concert is the popular TaikoProject, fresh off a successful concert at the Ford Amphitheater in June. The group was conceived by Bryan Yamami in 2000 with the idea of bringing together some of the best young taiko players in North America to create innovative theatrical productions celebrating taiko.
In 2005, TaikoProject became the first American group to win the prestigious Tokyo International Taiko Contest. They’ve performed on TV, in music videos, at major music festivals, and with artists including Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, John Legend, Usher and Quetzal.
Singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc will make a special guest performance at the concert. His powerful fusion of soul, folk, R&B and pop has won a global following. In 2014, his major-label debut album, “Lift Your Spirit,” featured the platinum-selling single “The Man,” and an intensely charged acoustic version of “Wake Me Up” – the massive hit he sang and co-wrote for the late Swedish DJ Avicii, which topped the charts in more than 100 countries. “Lift Your Spirit” won a Grammy nomination.
“When I signed a major-label contract, I recognized the power of having a larger audience, and I promised myself that I’d use my voice for social change,” says Blacc.
The concert will also feature Maya Jupiter, a Mexican-born Australian rapper, songwriter, MC and radio personality. In 2006, she formed the group Foreign Heights with rap artists MC Trey and DJ Nick Toth, releasing an album that gained recognition in Australia. She came to L.A. to further her solo career, and in 2010 released her second album, “Maya Jupiter” with Blacc assisting on recording and Quetzal and Gonzalez co-producing.
Also performing will be Alice Bag, lead singer and co-founder of The Bags, one of the first wave of punk bands to form in the mid-1970’s in L.A., and who hung out at Atomic Café. She has remained musically active, and released her second solo album in 2018.
Pre-show at 7 p.m. in JACCC Plaza.
Benefiting: Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Our Lady of Soledad, Immigrant Defenders Law Center
Tickets for “We Got Your Back … Pack”: $100 VIP, $35 general admission, $20 students/low income
To order, go to: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/10444496
Hard-copy tickets are available from Nikkei Progressives members and some sponsoring organizations.
For more information on the event, including how to become a sponsor, and a partial list of sponsors, go to: