WATERBURY, CT | As multi-instrumentalist, Rock N' Roll aficionado, and Region native Crystal Taliefero gazed into the crowd of 3,000 youth at the legendary Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT, her message was clear-"Don't be afraid to fail, but most importantly don't be afraid to succeed."
Taliefero and her team hosted a daylong workshop/mentoring event, coined "Crystal's Journey With The Arts," that paired students with industry professionals that culminated into a live performance as the finale.
"I was blown away by the talent of these individuals today," said Taliefero. "I'm the one supposed to be here inspiring them."
Dozens of students from Waterbury Public Schools performed including W.A.M.S. Drum Line, Wilby High School Glee Club and Drum Line, Crosby High School Chorale, Wallace Middle School Drum Line and Dance Team, NEMS and Washington School.
Also performing solos in front of a panel of judges scored on marketability, delivery, stage performance and overall performance were Nera Cambrelene, Miciah Hohman, Gina Chan, Devonte Hughes, Elias Ocasio, Tyler Marshall, Dallas Swain, Nykesha Olen, Jayda Benjamin and Reysha Padilla.
“This was food for the soul,” said Christina Cavaliere-Gearheart. “Seeing the faces of these kids was empowering. This performance truly lifted me up.”
Waterbury music teacher and drum transcriptionist Ray Santovasi coordinated the event. Santovasi has written drum parts for a myriad of stars including those on Justin Beiber’s “Believe” tour.
“It’s about the kids,” said Santovasi. “The Palace Theater has hosted some incredible acts here like ZZ Top, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and KISS over the years. This place is historical and these kids are very lucky for this opportunity."
Waterbury Mayor Neil O'Leary presented the key to the city to Taliefero and thanked her for taking the time from her demanding schedule for the students of his town.
“This is a great opportunity for all of us,” said O’Leary. “Let’s do this thing every week!”
Taliefero has lived a dream career for decades touring with Billy Joel since 1989 and also more legendary icons such as Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Faith Hill and Bob Seger to name a few. In 2008, "Rolling Stone Magazine" hailed Crystal Taliefero as 125-plus People, Places and Things Ruling the Rock N’ Roll Universe.
Playing in some of the most prestigious venues of all-time such as Yankee Stadium, Madison Square Garden, Shea Stadium, Wrigley Field and the New Orleans Jazz Show, Taliefero has been part of monumental performances. Some of which include 9/11 Concert for New York and the Hurricane Sandy Benefit, which have had a huge world-wide effect raising millions for those in need.
“This is just what I do. I love to give back,” said Taliefero. “I’m here right now doing my thing because someone gave to me. They gave me the support and encouragement to make it in this challenging industry. I absolutely love what I do and I want these kids to know it takes work but they can do it too.”