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Concert honoring Donny Hathaway and symposium to focus on mental illness in the Black community

Enhancing awareness of mental health, domestic abuse and trauma in general is the focus of the Coloring Mental Health Collective jazz, neo-soul and gospel concert on Friday, September 9. The concert, which will honor the legacy of legendary performer Donny Hathaway, kicks off a weekend symposium and health fair with the theme of “Healing Community Through the Arts” that will take place on Saturday, September 10. The concert, symposium and health fair will be held at the host church, Third Baptist Church of Chicago, 1551 West 95th Street.

The church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Dr. Alan V. Ragland, will be participating.

The Coloring Mental Health Collective is presenting the weekend events in partnership with the Donny Hathaway Legacy Project in an effort to help bring awareness to mental health issues, wellness, domestic abuse and violence in black and brown communities. The two organizations joined forces along with key partners, sponsors, thought leaders, and music artists. The September 9 “An Evening of Jazz, Neo-Soul and Gospel” concert will honor the music legacy of Chicago’s own Donny Hathaway. The concert begins at 7 pm.

Donny Hathaway was a multitalented, Grammy Award-winning recording artist, songwriter, pianist and singer in the 1970s who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia at the height of his career. His death in 1979 was ruled a suicide.

Donnita Hathaway
Donnita Hathaway

“The Donny Hathaway Legacy Project has been a dream of mine since I was 18 years old,” says the legendary performer’s daughter Donnita Hathaway, founder of the Donny Hathaway Legacy Project. “I have wanted to see my father honored like legends before him for years. I have also longed to see mental health addressed in the Black and creative arts community.  I’m excited that this dream will now be a reality!”  

The focus of the 2nd annual event is to address the mental health conditions of the black and brown communities that are mainly caused by “the pain and suffering due to social injustices.” A portion of proceeds from these events will go towards a fund supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse. 

Among the speakers for the symposium are Rev. Dr. Trina Armstrong, Rev. Samuel Green, Dr. Elizabeth Pierre, Rev. Dr. Angela Cowser, Taurean J. Webb, and Rev. Dr. Lee Butler, a key advisor to the Collective who will give the opening address for mental health plenary. Also participating is Rev. Nicholas Grier, CMHC founder and managing director, who says the 2016 Coloring Mental Health Collective symposium is “about improving the future for black and brown people.” He adds: “Too often grassroots organizers, scholars, clergy, clinicians and musicians have separate conversations [about mental health issues]. The CMHC symposium brings all of these groups together for a remarkable community organizing experience.  We look forward to seeing you there!”

The event’s producer, Andre Dennis, CMHC’s vice president of business development and strategic relations, says for too long African Americans have been silent when it comes to the deep issues surrounding mental health, as well as physical and mental abuse, in our communities. “Now is the time to be vulnerable and open ourselves up to the inner truth that we so often easily hide from,” says Dennis. “Mental illness is an issue that we as families and communities must address rather than dismiss. We all are impacted by mental illness and domestic abuse. We need to bring these issues into the open. What better place to have this event than the great city of Chicago!”

Coloring Mental Health Collective advocates for the mental wellness of Black and Brown people and seeks to “dismantle oppressive ideologies and behaviors that cause emotional suffering.” The collective uses innovation and creativity to foster community dialogue to bring about healing, freedom, and “life-giving relationships.”

To secure press credentials, contact Andre Dennis at 678-592-1946 or email [email protected]. For more information about this event, please log onto




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