On Friday, October 15, 2021, at 6:30 PM, the National Center for Children and Families (NCCF) presents the incredible reclaiming of the strengths of the community through a virtual journey of youth artistry and humanitarian awards. RECLAIMING: The HeART of Community is hosted by 15-year-old emcee Drew Olivia Tillman, a talented, stand-out actress, and singer from Washington, D.C. Drew has found early success in Hollywood acting on TV series including This Is Us and Mixed-ish as well as the Netflix feature Roxanne Roxanne.
Rejoining Ms. Tillman by audience request, is special guest Marcus Johnson, a Billboard-ranked musician and NAACP Image Award nominated jazz keyboardist and pianist. His distinctive funky urban groove music style and chillhop sound will bookend this evening of art and music. New to this year’s gala is Wammie Award winning group, The String Queens (TSQ). Fresh off their success with ESPN for Wimbledon’s global promotional campaign, this a dynamic trio will create a stimulating musical experience that inspires the audience “to love, hope, feel, and imagine.”
RECLAIMING: The HeART of Community will be streamed live nationally with the assistance of NCCF’s media partner Montgomery Community Media (MCM), and Emmy Award winning producer Fran Murphy. This digital broadcast will have you dancing, singing, and inspired by the incredible talent of youth entertainers, all-star lineup and distinguished honorees.
Additional youth acts will round out an evening rich with poetry, song, and dance.
Jory Holmes, an actor, director, host, and personality hailing from Prince George’s County, started off in productions for his church at the age of four. A graduate of the Thomas G. Pullen Performing Arts Academy and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, he now attends Columbia College in Chicago, in pursuit of a BFA in Acting.
Maya McKinney, a sophomore dance major at Montclair State University, hailing from Bowie, is a creative artist with motivation to share her gifts in a way that inspires others. A graduate of Thomas G. Pullen K-8 Arts Focused School, Suitland High School Center for Visual and Performing Arts and a member of the competitive dance companies at Starbound Dance Studio, Dancemakers Inc., and Dance Dimensions, Maya has competed in both regional and national competitions for eight years.
Matthew Crittenden, a 15-year-old dance major and honor student at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, is a native of Upper Marlboro. He began his dancing career at the age of five at The Washington Ballet Southeast Campus and made his first stage appearances under Artistic Director, Septime Weber, in The Nutcracker and Cinderella. Later cast for Debbie Allen’s DC-based stage play, Brothers of the Knight, Matthew currently trains with the Senior Repertory Company and is on the competition team at Dance Dimensions Studio.
Kelvin Dukes, an 11th grader at James Blake High School, from Burtonsville, has always been passionate about the arts. He has performed at the 2020 Montgomery County Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day tribute and was the 2018 vocal winner of a local competition, MoCo’s Got Talent. Most recently he made it to the quarterfinals in Season 15 of America’s Got Talent where his performance of Ain’t No Way by Aretha Franklin impressed Simon Cowell.
Sasa Aakil, an 18-year-old multi-media artist, writer, and the 2021 Montgomery County Youth Poet Laureate, has been active in the DC art community since age 13. A potter, poet, print maker, painter and bassist, her work on the A Man Was Lynched Yesterday Project has been featured in the Washington Post, as well as on WTOP’s COLORS Podcast. She was published in “I Am The Night Sky and Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth” in 2019, and is now pursuing a degree in Fine Arts at Montgomery College with hopes of transferring to an HBCU.
Zoe August, a 16-year-old singer-songwriter and a Montgomery County Youth Poetry Ambassador, is a sophomore at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac. Her first musical release of the year “where happiness hides” was selected as a semifinalist in the International Songwriting Competition out of more than 26,000 entries and she was recently named a rising star by Jewish Rock Radio. Zoe spent the first half of 2021 creating her debut EP.
Lancie Faith Kear, a 19-year-old singer/songwriter, poet, choreographer, and a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, was born and raised in Silver Spring, MD, developing a passion for community service. She has been singing since the age of 3 and is a two-time local Gold Medalist for poetry performance for the ACT-SO NAACP Montgomery County, Maryland Branch.
Noa Kamiya, a rising senior at Walt Whitman High School and a CityDance Conservatory Dancer, has performed at prestigious venues around the Washington DC area. At the age of 6, Noa found her passion for dance at a local studio in Tokyo, Japan. After moving to the United States with her family at age 10, Noa began her pre-Professional training at CityDance where she studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary Ballet, Umfundalai, Sri Lankan, Broadway Jazz, and Hip-Hop.
Lay-T.C. (14) and her brother Marc Anthony (12) were born into a family of musicians and started singing as soon as they were able to walk. Lay-T.C., who recently completed her first music CD (now selling worldwide on Apple Music) continues to write and record music as well as play the violin. Marc Anthony who trains professionally in chorus and saxophone enjoys experimenting with his own sound, and producing professionally for other young artists.
RECLAIMING: The HeART of Community is a free, online community event open to all. Register today at http://www.heartofcommunity.org.