YO, PUT THE GUN DOWN! (A Hip Hop Symphony)
An Anti-Gun Violence Musical Theater Initiative
This emotional and inspiring Hip Hop Musical takes you into the prison cell of inmate Thelonious Sr., as he tells us his ongoing story about gun violence, while serving a life term for a murder he committed when he was just nineteen. Through spoken word, hip-hop dance, and music, we share in his own son's struggle, choosing between his obligation to be a young father at 17, and the urgent plea from the street life to murder another youth over an escalating Instagram dispute that will play itself out on an unknown street in Philadelphia.
The Chew and Chelten Community Development Corporation's priority is to engage our youth and young adults through the performing arts, culture, and entrepreneurship programs. With this goal in mind, we pursued and obtained a building that will be the future Chew and Chelten CDC Community Arts Center at 5653 Chew Avenue in the East Germantown section of the city. Our goal is to raise funds to fully renovate the arts center building starting next year.
To kick off our fundraising efforts, the Chew and Chelten CDC is partnering with The McClain Foundation to present a special anti-gun violence musical theater performance - YO, PUT THE GUN DOWN! (A Hip Hop Symphony). Our aim is to engage the youth through performing and creative arts and generate a heightened awareness about alternatives to gun violence.
The Founder of The McClain Foundation knows the effect of violence all too well. Oronde McClain was 10 years old on that fatal Monday night in April 2000. A bullet had pierced his skull. Police said that he had been an innocent victim of a drive-by shooting. The shooter was never caught. “He spent ten months at the Children’s Hospital’s Seashore House, had four surgeries, couldn’t walk, talk or move the right side of his body at all,” said Oronde’s mother. “He had to wear a helmet for a year, and he walked around with a limp, and even had to fight kids for teasing him. But look at him now.” Yes, look at him now. Oronde has a remarkable story to share and a message for all individuals who believe violence is the answer. “Someone missed their target and shot me in the head, I could have been your son, brother, cousin, nephew, etc. Put the gun down. There’s other ways to handle conflict.” And to the friends of these gun slingers, “Don’t lose a friend to violence because it only leads to 2 things - death & jail. Play your part, save a friend by speaking up!” Oronde’s passion and energy represents what YO, PUT THE GUN DOWN! (A HIP HOP SYMPHONY) is all about.
The McClain Foundation engages the “Generation Y” Leaders into a positive movement with a purpose in life. We reach them where they are. Our vision is to continue to engage, strengthen communities, help victims to become survivors and empower communities not to be voiceless. Our mission by doing this Symphony is to develop and retain youth interested in the Avenue of the Arts by engaging them in education, advocacy and growth opportunities.
Chew and Chelten CDC was founded in 2019 under fiscal sponsorship of the Federation of Neighborhood Centers (FNC) to advance racial and economic equity in a rapidly gentrifying section of Philadelphia. Our goal is to foster an environment where people of diverse generations, incomes and backgrounds can live together with dignity and fulfillment.