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Maestro “Papa C.” Curtis knows the power music has to bring people together.
For years, Curtis and his family — his wife, Nola, and five children, Zahara, Nile, Isis, Kiki and Phoenix — have entertained the Bay Area as the locally renowned band The Curtis Family C-notes, mesmerizing audiences with a wholesome, genre-bending sound of jazz, blues, funk, R&B, folk and gospel music. They’ve performed at events both spectacular — such as a halftime show for the Golden State Warriors this past February — and historic, including the inaugurations of San Francisco Mayor London Breed and California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis.
And now, they’re using their musical talents for good. This Monday, July 27, the family band will take their show on the road (literally) as they team up with Mother Brown’s Dining Room, a San Francisco-based food bank and shelter, to bring food, music and “good vibes” to residents of the Bayview district. As volunteers drive around the district to deliver food, the Curtis family will tag along in their own vehicle, transforming neighborhoods into an impromptu stage.
“We will be handing out food and singing to brighten and lighten their load,” said Curtis. “This is music for the people, food for the people.”
With the pandemic surging, a worsening economic downturn and expanded unemployment benefits set to end soon, the demand for food support has never been greater. Since shelter-in-place orders were announced, Mother Brown’s has delivered around 400 boxes of food each week to residents in the Bayview district, including seniors stuck at home and the homeless community. And with one of the highest homeless populations in the city, the crisis is only growing more dire in the district, the organization’s CEO, Gwendolyn Westbrook, explained.
“The needs here are very high in this community,” said Westbrook, adding that the hunger crisis was already getting worse before the pandemic arrived. “We have youth homeless, adult homeless, people living in the streets [who can’t feed themselves].”
The Curtis family are no strangers to community service, having previously performed for Mother Brown’s in 2019. Shelter-in-place hasn’t stopped them from giving back: Every Monday night at 7 p.m., San Francisco’s “First Family of Song” has performed via Facebook Live, playing a mix of original and cover songs, and providing a much-needed musical respite for viewers around the world. And just this past Friday, they released a new single, “Black Lives Matter (POWER to the People),” with half of the song’s proceeds going to support the Black Lives Matter Global Network.
“Music is so very, very important to our existence. Even the birds sing,” said Curtis. “Music is just as important as it is to breathe, as it is to have food for nourishment. We need to have our spirits nourished.”
The mobile performance and food delivery will take place on Monday, July 27, starting at 1 p.m. from 2111 Jennings St., San Francisco. Learn more and catch the family’s latest performances at thecurtisfamilycnotes.com.