Local music & art festival to bridge generational gaps

guitar_jump“Music expresses that which cannot be said, and on which it is impossible to remain silent,” said Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables.

The members of the Raise Your Voice Music and Arts Festival planning committee are hopeful an April 30th event will break the silence and unite the community in a constructive way through music, art, and civic engagement. The Festival aims to connect education to music and art and youth to the arts, empowering them to have a voice in the community.

“Raise Your Voice is an initiative in Monessen, in order to give the youth a voice,” said Matt Shorraw, founder of the Raise Your Voice festival and campaign. The festival bridges generational gaps between the youth and older community members through music and art, bringing everyone together for a common purpose.

The festival began in the spring of 2012. The Raise Your Voice Campaign – “the initiative stating the goals of the festival” – was founded the following year to “promote community involvement and revival through music, arts, education, culture, and youth advocacy,” said Shorraw.

The campaign and festival’s origins hail from Monessen Communities That Care (CTC), a research-based youth delinquency prevention program founded in 2001. Proceeds from the festival go toward CTC operations, which include a youth council at Monessen High School as well as other programs.

Raise Your Voice will strive to: Share art, music, and culture with the community, to give the youth a voice for positive change in their community; involve the entire community in positive and constructive activities, and help the work of Monessen Communities That Care (CTC). They will encourage civic engagement through volunteering, educate youth in art, music, and culture, and prepare youth for higher education by providing programs for citizens to be well-rounded individuals.

“This is youth empowerment for community revival,” said Shorraw.

Festival attendees are invited to spend the day enjoying a variety of musical stylings ranging from folk and punk to rock, alternative and pop performed by local bands from the Pittsburgh, Monessen, California, Jeanette, and Washington areas. The Festival will also feature a variety of artisans and crafters as well as food vendors.

The master of ceremonies for the event will be Lisa Lujetic, with music performances by: Sue Gartland, Hear Tonight, Scott and Rosanna, Jonathan Bass, Vertigo, Fry Jones, Gregg Johnson, Michael Chilzer, Microwave Ramen, Ixora, Acapella Stella, Isolated Incident, and The Arcade.

Vendors at the event will include: Tastefully Simple, Jamberry Nails, RP’s BBQ, Pampered Chef,  Crazy Cat Crochet, Unique Designs by Jenn, Sabika Jewelry,  Touch of Hawaii and Amish, Henna by Valarie and Cayla, and Monessen Senior Center.

This year’s event will be held in memory of Taylor Egidi.

The Raise Your Voice Music and Arts Festival will be held on Saturday, April 30 from Noon to 7 p.m. at Monessen City Park Amphitheater, 1918 Grand Boulevard in Monessen. FMI: Matt Shorraw or Karla Spangler at raiseyourvoice.monessen@gmail.com
Story by Aaron Dalzell for Pennsylvania Bridges