Celebrity Chef Alexander Smalls headlined the “Harlem Down South,” brunch and book signing event benefitting Don’t Miss a Beat (DMAB), a local non-profit with a mission to blend music, art, academic achievement and civic engagement to inspire youth in the Riverside, Brooklyn and Woodstock communities. At the event, Smalls signed his newly released book, “Between Harlem and Heaven,” an homage to the food and cultural significance of Harlem and the Afro-Asian Diaspora. Smalls also assisted in the kitchen with cooks from South Kitchen to prepare and share some of his recipes for the brunch.
Smalls was invited to Jacksonville by DMAB’s artistic director, Ulysses Owens, Jr. Owens is a graduate of the Douglas Anderson School for the Performing Arts and is a multi-Grammy award-winning jazz percussionist. Both have a passion for uplifting and educating kids through the arts, especially in underserved neighborhoods. Smalls serves on the board of the Harlem School of the Arts, while Owens founded DMAB in 2008 with his family.
DMAB programs create a continuum of services for youth and the community, and are an arts-based, non-profit organization that focuses on the “whole child” through mentorship. DMAB curriculum promotes a dual focus on arts and academic achievement and host programs during the year that target these areas. Students services also includes a Music and Arts Summer Camp; The Academy of the Arts which offers artistic instruction in the areas of strings, woodwind and brass, dance, voice and visual arts; and the After-School Program which provides tutoring, homework and academic assistance to any student, VPK-12th grade, Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. An August 2014 highlight was when students embarked on a journey of a lifetime from Jacksonville International Airport to Paris, France as part of DMAB’s “3 Notes for Hope” cross-cultural exchange program allowing children to learn about cultures both inside and outside of the U.S. Shown at the fundraising event with a copy of their autographed copy of the book “Harlem Down South,” (L -R) Dr. Shirley Jones, P. Renee Rolfs, Chef Smalls, Beverly Harvey and Chiquita Rivers. Sarah Hedden/DMAB Photo