"We gotta rise up and shine
Rise up and shine
We are the dream that Dr. King had in mind
All of us stand together
Now is the time
Everyone counts — we are the 99!"
— Melanie DeMore
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Melanie DeMore will take your breath away. Warm, generous, and passionate, she is one of those rare people you meet in life whom you know you will never forget. She also happens to be a phenomenally talented singer, composer, and vocal activist with a once-in-a-generation voice. I met her at a screening of films by queer women of color. Melanie was the subject of one of those films, and before the seven minute film had ended I knew I wanted her to be part of the Oakland Neighborhood Project. For more than 20 years, she has worked introducing music to the youth of Oakland, and in so doing has touched the lives of thousands of our youth and helped to shape our future for the better. She has performed in such hallowed places as Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and has appeared at international folk music festivals from Europe to Cuba to New Zealand. She has shared the stage with some truly remarkable individuals, including Gloria Steinem, Odetta, Pete Seeger, Judy Collins, and Ed Asner. If you are interested in learning more about her and listening to her music (and you should be), you can visit her website. This picture was taken on the roof of her building in the Oakland's Clinton neighborhood.