Pianist Stephanie Woodford, 18, one of 173 worldwide chosen to attend Grammy Camp

by Lance Burton, Planet Fillmore Communications

Some time ago, I stopped waking up to the morning news on television. What a discouraging way to wake up and get the day started. Invariably, morning after morning, the first 20 minutes of the news show would be about human damage done within the African American community. Shootings typically led the way, followed by statistics on the number of young African American children losing out on education in some way. Shadowed by the heartbreak of another family’s personal loss and grief.

Stephanie-Woodford-w-parents-AME-Zion-Church-0614-by-Lance-Burton-Planet-Fillmore-Commns-web-300x200, Pianist Stephanie Woodford, 18, one of 173 worldwide chosen to attend Grammy Camp, Culture Currents
Stephanie Woodford with her parents at church – Photo: Lance Burton, Planet Fillmore Communications

Local television seemed to relish with glee the chance to show the next punishing blow to the African American social structure. Almost never would we see the positive jewels that adorn the Black community’s social fabric. Planet Fillmore Communications, LLC, was founded out of this dire need to present the better features and stories of the Black community, in a televised way through media and YouTube. There’s no shortage of Black citizen profiles of personal success.

One bright profile of a San Francisco community jewel was recently brought to my attention. Stephanie Woodford is an 18-year-old who grew up in and lives on Fillmore Street with her dad. I knew of Stephanie because she would come to Marcus Book Store with her father as just a child and play on the piano. It was clear she had a talent.

She became so good under the sustaining support of her mom, dad, strength of conviction and community encouragement that one year we had her perform outside Marcus Book Store during the Fillmore Street Jazz Festival. She was a big hit. Stephanie, since, went on to the Conservatory of Music out on 19th Avenue – studying Bach and Beethoven right alongside Miles Davis and John Coltrane. She is currently a student of piano attending St. Ignatius College Preparatory and is about to graduate.

But here is the great news: The arc to Stephanie’s educational success continues. One hundred seventy-three high school students have been selected from around the globe to attend Grammy Camp Los Angeles. This is a marvelous and outstanding chance to gain exposure in the professional music industry.

Stephanie was THE ONE San Francisco student chosen from many to participate. The Grammy Foundation selected talented high school students from 125 U.S. cities and 31 U.S. states and six international students from China, Japan and England to participate in the 10th annual Grammy Camp program.

Grammy Camp Los Angeles offers selected high school students an interactive 10-day residential summer music experience. Focusing on all aspects of commercial music, this unique opportunity provides instruction by industry professionals in an immersive, creative environment with cutting-edge technology in professional facilities.

Stephanie-Woodford-mom-at-piano-0614-by-Lance-Burton-Planet-Fillmore-Commns-web-300x200, Pianist Stephanie Woodford, 18, one of 173 worldwide chosen to attend Grammy Camp, Culture Currents
Stephanie Woodford and her mother at the piano – Photo: Lance Burton, Planet Fillmore Communications

The program features eight music career tracks: audio engineering, electronic music production, music journalism, music business, songwriting, video production, vocal performance and a performance track for bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, and winds and strings.

All tracks culminate in media projects, CD recordings and/or performances. Grammy Camp Los Angeles will be held at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and other professional venues throughout Los Angeles.

This is a magical moment and a giant positive leap into what could be a life changing experience for this young lady. I’m personally very proud of her accomplishment. She has been invited into the National Society of High School Scholars. Well known around the African American community and a member of AME Zion church, Stephanie has performed to the delight of audiences throughout the city.

Now we have one great challenge: Stephanie needs an iPad. This will enable her to remain competitive with other students fortunate enough to afford the cutting edge technology that enables them to take full advantage of this educational opportunity. The price is a little steep and out of the range of Stephanie’s parents on such short notice. Any gift or expression of support would be much appreciated and can be sent directly to Stephanie Woodford, P.O. Box 15475, San Francisco, CA 94115.

Lance Burton, founder of Planet Fillmore Communications, can be reached at planet.fillmore@gmail.com.