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WATTS : Free Concert Has Anti-Gang Message

August 08, 1993|SANDRA HERNANDEZ

Terrance Quaites didn't need a limousine to drive him the short distance from his home to the Watts Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club, where he performed along with other members of Coming of Age at a free concert. Instead, Quaites walked.

"I used to come here all the time and play ball," Quaites, 17, said during the show, which carried an anti-gang message. "Your neighborhood embraces you and teaches you the ropes. And the Boys Club was a place to chill out when I was growing up."

More than 500 of the club's 1,100 members attended the free afternoon concert Wednesday.

Just listening to singers such as Coming of Age and Delano was something out of the ordinary for Jackie Lewis, 11. "They're here 'cause they're from South-Central and they can tell people you don't have to be in a gang. You can get together and rap instead," he said.

The first of the annual concerts was in 1983 after club director Roy W. Roberts contacted Lee Bailey Communications Inc., the publishers of RadioScope magazine, about helping local youths. "There were a lot of concerts around town, and most of the kids around here couldn't afford to go," Roberts said. "So I started trying to get people to get a concert going here. This is the best way to get to kids, because these (artists) are the people they hear every day on the radio."

For most of the 15 performers who took part in the concert, including actor Tyrin Turner, who starred in the film "Menace II Society," the show was a chance to talk to their neighbors.

"People make it seem like South-Central only has crime, but there's crime everywhere," said Turner, who attended Crenshaw High School and still lives in the area. "There are a lot of good things that come out of here, and maybe my being here will help somebody. I don't expect it to change everybody, but it might give somebody hope, let them know that people make it out of here."

Said Quaites: "We want to show these kids that brothers like us that came up the same way they did made it, and the hood isn't all bad."

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