‘HeART to Heart’ concert fundraises for music education in South L.A. schools

USC music students share a night of music and art that comes straight from the heart.

USC students are set to host “HeART to Heart Charity Showcase,” a live performance full of music acts, an art showcase and a fundraiser for education programs in local elementary schools.

The event will take place Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:45 p.m. at Ground Zero Performance Cafe. Guests can enjoy live music led by musical artists from the USC Thornton School of Music and admire art displays by creatives from the USC Roski School of Art and Design.

Sunya Ahmed, one of the organizers for the “HeART to Heart Charity Show” said the event grew out of a class at the Thornton School of Music called Music Industry 425: Live Music Production and Promotion.

“We had this group together and we chose our charity...,” Ahmed said. “We all did the different tasks, with legal and booking and management and marketing.”

Ahmed’s group formed Diversity in Music for Everyone Productions and will host the event in partnership with the Thornton Community Project. Proceeds from the show will support TCP’s nonprofit work bringing music education to schools in South Los Angeles.

“We like to have a lot of female singers and a lot of people of color,” Ahmed said. “We just want to be really inclusive like that. And we picked artists that we actually really like their platform.”

Margo Zelle is one of the featured vocalists set to perform at the showcase. She’ll take the stage with Lis Eason and Stuart Crespo, a new ensemble she says formed for the event.

“We love to play together,” said Zelle. She said the group will perform a set of smoothed out R&B soul songs with a jazz/pop influence.

Max Bacani, another musician set on the show at Ground Zero, is eager to perform. His group, billed as Bacani, includes Colin Duffy and Owen Mech — all students at the Viterbi School of Engineering.

“What other school can I be a computer science major and then find the time and find the place to go and do something completely left field of what I’m studying?” Bacani said.

As a spring admit right before the pandemic hit, Bacani said he’s enjoying finally being on campus in person.

“We’ve been having a blast just getting together and rehearsing,” Bacani said. “I think the three of us haven’t played in a couple years time, all together.”

Bacani will play a set of “mellow acoustic tunes that explore honest emotions.” He said he hopes people will come to the show to have fun and enjoy the art and music and being together in person.

“Best case scenario, I just want people to have a good time,” Bacani said. “I think that’s like our mentality, just thinking go out there and we’re having fun, then hopefully other people will have fun too, and just appreciate some good music for a night.”

Zelle has already been using her music to help support TCP by volunteering in the education program for the past year and a half.

The HeART to Heart show is another way to be involved in a cause she’s happy to support, she said.

“The thought of getting to perform and raise money for that sort of community…,” Zelle said. “I’m big on performing, but I’m even bigger on it when it means I’m doing it for something that’s for a good cause.”

Ahmed said the impact of the TCP program comes full circle but starts here on campus.

“A lot of the kids who end up at USC said that they had this program when they were younger, growing up in L.A. and that inspired them to continue music,” said Ahmed.