AngelStreet mentors inner-city girls by providing musical training in communities where it otherwise wouldn’t exist. AngelStreet started in North Memphis at the Oasis Enrichment Center and will soon be expanding to the Graham Heights neighborhood, serving youth who attend STREETS Graham Heights. AngelStreet serves girls ages 8 to 18 in those communities where it seeks to “empower young women to understand their value, discover their purpose, and become creatively equipped to serve the Memphis community as leaders.”
“We have a unique focus being all female,” said Jill Dyson, executive director and founder. “Most centers do a great job attracting males with gym facilities but it’s rare to have something that caters to an all-female environment. We have an all-female team that is trained and passionate about walking beside the girls and creating that environment of healthy adult mentors in their lives.”
It started in 2013 when Dyson was tasked to provide entertainment for a women’s Christmas dinner at Hope Church. The specific request was a children’s choir. Dyson had plenty of connections in music and entertainment, but a children’s choir wasn’t among them. She used connections through previous service at Oasis of Hope in North Memphis to create a children’s choir. Eleven girls performed three songs, one of which was an original.
“It was epic, fun and impactful,” Dyson said about that Christmas program. “The impact was not just on us as participants and the girls performing, but on the audience. They gave the girls a standing ovation.”
Terrian Bass was a high school senior and one of those singers. She stood out, enough to later perform on “The American Idol.” As she builds her own career she continues involvement in AngelStreet as a coach. She’s just one success story from AngelStreet, an organization that looks to step into a growing arts void in many schools. AngelStreet opened its doors in 2014 under the umbrella of Oasis of Hope, a Christian ministry that works in North Memphis.
Dyson calls Bass’ performance on “American Idol” a pivotal moment for the organization’s growth. “That gave us a big platform,” she said. “It gave buzz and excitement for the girls to be a beacon of hope of what they can aspire to and achieve on their own. Terrian was able to use her voice on her audition to say, ‘You do not have to be defined by negative surroundings.’ She was speaking directly about AngelStreet and how these girls can become empowered to succeed.”
Bass has a bright future as a touring musician. She’s just one of the more than 300 girls in less than five years who have walked through the doors at AngelStreet. There are typically between 40 and 60 girls involved at a time, including participating in multiple rehearsals per week and performances.
There is no cost to those girls who participate. That’s made possible through grants, corporate sponsors and individual recurring donations, called Give 11.11 that started in November. It encourages people to contribute $11.11 monthly, $121 monthly or a one-time gift of $1,111. Dyson said the campaign’s success can determine the long-term sustainability of AngelStreet and its potential growth into more neighborhoods. Learn more by visiting angelstreetmemphis.com.
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