Oldies but Goodies Party
Benefit for the Kool Kids Foundation
Saturday, Oct. 21, 8 p.m.
Montclair Women’s Club,
82 Union St.
https://tinyurl.com/yctaflny, or call 973-771-6624
By GWEN OREL
She was uptown and he was downtown. Downtown Jersey City, that is.
Sakinah Bell and her husband, Robert “Kool” Bell, of Kool & the Gang, met and fell in love in Jersey City when both were 14 years old. They met at a roller rink, Sakinah said.
The mission of their Kool Kids Foundation is to bring music to inner city students who wouldn’t get it otherwise.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, the Kool Kids Foundation is holding its first party/fundraiser, Oldies but Goodies.
With more funds, the foundation will be able to offer scholarships and instruments to the kids.
The Foundation has been holding “boot camps,” that is, intensive music instruction in the schools, for a few years, said Sakinah in the office of Dream Stars, her talent competition company, on Church Street. Music celebrities attend to speak to the teens and give them business advice.
Dream Stars presents an annual talent competition with young people, she said, and the Kool Kids Foundation boot camps and activities help them find that talent.
DREAMS DO COME TRUE
On the wall of Sakinah’s office are platinum and gold records achieved by Kool & the Gang, and pictures of Kool with other
“I was inspired by my wife” to start the foundation, Robert Bell said by phone, calling in from Amsterdam, where he is touring. “Music helped me. It kept me off the streets. Music is not in the schools anymore.”
Sakinah explained that Kool was from the projects, the son of a single mother. Her own parents were together, and her family foundation was strong. She was one of eight children, and has two sons.
She said, “I always had an open heart for children.”
One son, Hakim Bell, is in the music business, like his father. Sakinah said, “This is a way we can give back to the community.
“They’ve removed performing arts from the schools. The kids don’t have a prayer.”
Music gives teens a way to focus, she said. Having teens focus on music is a way of offering something “other than gang members to be a shining light.”
The celebrities who come to offer advice about breaking in to the business, about marketing, about branding, can be that light for them.
“I would like to do field trips, and get them out of their neighborhood,” she continued. The Kool Kids Foundation has worked with children in schools around New Jersey, including East Orange and Jersey City.
Music, Sakinah said, “gives them hope. It allows them to dream. Some of them say, ‘I don’t know what dreaming is.’ Dreams do come true.”
MIKE AND IKE
Sakinah is a fashion designer, not a singer. Perhaps that is one reason she’s particularly excited about creating costumes for the party, which guests are encouraged to wear period costume to.
“I bought myself an Afro wig,” she said with a laugh. “I made bell-bottoms. I’m going to find my platforms.”
The music at Oldies but Goodies will be from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.
And celebrities may show up.
Sakinah knows Gloria Gaynor well, and may come to the party, she said.
And the party will have a period atmosphere as well as period music: Sakinah bought “old time” candy, including Bazooka bubblegum, Good & Plenty, Mike and Ike.
It’s BYOB, but on the other hand, there will be Mary Janes.
Kool & the Gang had a string of hits in the ’60s and ’70s, including “Jungle Boogie” (1969) and “Ladies’ Night” (1979), and the band continued to have success in the 1980s, with “Joanna” (1983), and the double platinum album “Emergency” (1984).
But if you know one Kool & the Gang song, it’s probably the number one single “Celebration” (1980), with its chorus “Celebrate good times, come on!”
It gets played at a lot of weddings and graduation parties.
And the Oldies but Goodies party, Sakinah said, will be a celebration too.