CAPTION: Emmy-award winning jazz vocalist and founder of Timeless Gifts, Joan Collaso, is surrounded by young artists who are part of the program that seeks to provide mentoring and performance opportunities for students (Photo, Timeless Gifts).
World-class professional artists and aspiring young singers and musicians will perform duets during the annual concert and fundraiser for the Timeless Gifts Performing Arts program on Sunday, Dec. 10.
Seeking to help fill the void left by the removal of the performing arts in many public schools, Timeless Gifts’ founder, Chicago native Joan Collaso, an accomplished Emmy award-winning, international vocalist, started the youth performing arts program in 2011.
“We are helping to fill the void for aspiring young performers who no longer have the outlet of performing arts in their schools,” Collaso said. “But just as important, we are creating a historical legacy in Chicago by contributing to the next generation of performers.”
The concept of Timeless Gifts was to provide mentorship by pairing professional musicians with aspiring young performers.
“It was called Timeless Gifts because the gift we thought would be through the mentoring they’d receive for this little bit of time rehearsing for the performance would last them forever,” said Collaso.
It started out as a Christmas duets concert in 2010 and turned into a seven-week performing arts summer camp in 2011 where students ages 3-24 learned music, stage presence, script writing, drama, dance and music. Since its founding in 2011, Timeless Gifts has worked with more than 500 students in its summer camps.
Youth from all over the Chicagoland area audition for the group’s summer program, which culminates in a professionally produced performance. The group also stages an annual duets concert of Christmas and holiday music which has featured performances from Chicago legends such as Jerry “Ice Man” Butler and gospel artists Walt Whitman and Darius Brooks. At the holiday concert, students perform with their teachers and mentors.
This year, 45 students will perform along with professionals such as tap dancer Bril Barrett. Jazz vocalist Bobbi Wilsyn will be honored by Timeless Gifts during the concert with the 2023 Legacy Award. Isaiah Robinson will be the special guest vocalist.
The holiday concert is also a fundraiser for the program to keep the summer camp affordable so more children can attend.
Many of the students who started with the program have gone on to college to major in the arts and have returned to be teachers in the summer camp.
“What’s going on in the media with our youth every day shows why what we do is important,” Collaso said. “Our children are successful because we care.”
Tickets for the concerts can be bought at timelessgifts.org
For More Information
When: Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023 at 4:30 p.m.
Where: Reva & David Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St., Chicago, IL 60637
Who: Timeless Gifts Youth Arts Program Students
Joan Collaso, Director and Founder
Rayzine Collaso, Assistant Director and vocalist
Bobbi Wilsyn, jazz vocalist, educator, 2023 Timeless Gifts’ Legacy Award winner
Nora Williams, violinist
Janae King, dancer
Bril Barrett, tap dancer
Isaiah Robinson, special guest vocalist
Larry Hanks, music director and pianist
What: Timeless Gifts’ 14th Annual Duets Mentoring Concert