Meet Valerie Naranjo
She has been a percussionist for NBC’s Saturday Night Live Band for almost 20 years and has worked on Broadway’s The Lion King musical. Now, composer, vocalist and percussionist, Valerie Naranjo, will regale the city with stories of her experiences and expose them to the African Gyle or mallet instrument. An initiative of the Leap (Leadership Engagement in Artistic Performances) Foundation, that exposes children to alternative frameworks of learning through dance, music and art, Naranjo will address the students of Bala Vidya Mandir on March 22, between 9 am and 10 pm. There is also another show at 4 pm at the Theosophical Society. Both shows are open to all. The foundation, spearheaded by Srinivas Krishnan and mentored by AR Rahman, has touched the lives of over a hundred children who, before they underwent the pro- gramme, had no musical training. “The students have already been exposed to an array of coaches from around India, as well as Dr Paschal and Zelma Badu-Younge from Ghana, Jamey Haddad (percussionist who works with virtuoso Paul Simon) from Oberlin Conservatory, and several alumni/faculty from AR Rahman’s KM Conservatory,” said Pattamadai Suresh, who has decades of experience in social outreach initiatives.
Suresh, and other members of the LEAP initiative, including Debbie Thiagarajan, Srinivas Krishnan, Shvetha Jaishankar, K Kalyanasundaram, Bhairavi Jani, Atma Iyer, and Baskar Subramanian, all come from diverse backgrounds with years of expertise in their chosen areas. “It is this broad comprehension and assimilation of multiple characteristics that allow the student community to adapt in every life situation,” said Shvetha Jaishankar, who has worn many hats in fields such as fashion, food and literature.