Artists Who Change the World

by Debbie Monterrey, dcmonterrey@cbs.com

Talent is a wonderful thing. Sharing that talent to help the careers of others is even better. Taking that talent and compassion to better our whole community? Bravo.

Two St. Louisans who make their living in the arts and are also working to make the world around us a better place: Jessica Hentoff and Terry Barber.

Jessica Hentoff (AKA “The Circus Lady”) is the artistic/executive director of Circus Harmony. Terry Barber is Grammy-winning countertenor and founder/executive director of Artists For A Cause.

I’ve written about Jessica a time or two before because she’s shown me first-hand what the magic of circus arts can do for children and how it’s literally changed the lives of some young men who are the first to say, while they’re traveling the world with high-flying careers, that if not for Circus Harmony, they’d likely be a gang shooting/North St. Louis statistic.

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Circus Harmony alumni (and former St. Louis Arches) Melvin Diggs and Terrance Robinson with Jessica Hentoff (Photo courtesy of J Hentoff)

Circus Harmony alumni Melvin Diggs, who grew up in North St. Louis and starts with Cirque du Soleil in December, has often said “Being in Circus Harmony didn’t change my life, it saved my life!”

But the social circus school, which recently came in second on a list of social circus organizations that are changing the world , is not just for at-risk youth. It’s for all children from all backgrounds. In fact, Circus Harmony is possibly one of the most diverse places around.

Support Circus Harmony by attending the 5th annual Juggling Ball at City Museum!

Terry Barber was a full-time member of the Grammy-winning group Chanticleer. He has appeared on albums with musical icons like Chaka Khan, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.

Barber moved to St. Louis from Florida to be closer to family, which was a benefit to our community for two reasons. For one, we now have more opportunities to see Terry perform. And number two, he moved Artists For A Cause here, too. It’s now located in the .Zack Center on Locust in Grand Center.

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Photo courtesy of Terry Barber/Facebook

Check out Terry Barber performing the music of Andrew Lloyd Weber on Nov. 17!

Get a flavor of Terry’s talent here and here.

Barber founded Artists for a Cause in 2009 to give students a chance to develop their skills and to give visual and performing artists a way to give back to their communities (while getting paid–an important distinction since people often want an artist to “donate” their time and talent).

Barber got the idea after losing his mother to cancer. He decided to donate proceeds of his album to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and then decided to help other artists make an impact.

The Artists For A Cause “Dance for Food” program, for example, creates opportunity for hundreds of dancers each season, and raises more than one dollar of food for every dollar spent on the program in order to fight poverty.

Throw some support to these artists and their organizations so they can continue doing the same.

 

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