Sharon Katz & The Peace Train provided sounds from far off South Africa during the first of seven free concerts at Pastorius Park hosted by the Chestnut Hill Community Association with the help of the Chestnut Hill Community Fund and Chestnut Hill Hospital.
This concert series has been going on for 64 years.
“It brings a really big sense of community because everyone comes out. We have a big selection of performers, so there’s something for everyone,” CHCA social division vice president Julie Byrne said.
The lively sounds of Sharon Katz & The Peace Train struck a responsive chord with the persons attending the concert who started out clapping to the music under a bright sky and ending the night dancing next to Katz with the stage and decorative lights providing the only illumination.
In the midst of the music, the group managed to remind the audience of the harsh and dehumanizing South African government under racially segregated system of apartheid .
Katz, a native of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, began organizing a group of multi-ethnic musicians in 1992 two years after the release of imprisoned anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela, who later became president of that nation.
“There was a great need to unite people because the whole country was divided by the apartheid government,” Katz said.
Katz uses her music to spread the message of peace and unity to audiences around the world. She also started a school in South Africa and supports the Good Hope Community Center in Mama Mary which includes an orphanage.
The philanthropy of Katz has rubbed off on 14-year-old Emma Lambert of Chestnut Hill. Lambert and 13-year-old Dona Lisciotto run a program called DressEs with Love (the D is for Dona and the E is for Emma). The girls collect pillowcases, fabric remnants and button down shirts from the community and sew dresses for the orphans that Katz works with.
Lambert and Lisciotto are working toward earning a Girl Scout Silver Award, a prestigious award given for service projects. So far, Lambert is excited about the program’s progress. “Tonight we got so many volunteers to help with sewing and donating fabric,” Lambert said. “We really need anything someone will give us, even if it’s a small piece of fabric.”
Lambert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.