Sunday, February 6, 2011

Exceptional Artistic South Florida Goodwill Musicians Captivate Audiences

The Spirit of Goodwill Band

Photo: Miami Florida Goodwill

The film "For Once In My Life" premiered on February 1st, on PBS Independent Lens

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 6, 2011

Miami, Florida - On Tuesday, an incredible true inspiring accomplishment, the Spirit of Goodwill Band from Miami "For Once In My Life" film premiere was aired by PBS Independent Lens. The film is awesome and show cased a 29 member talented group with severe disabilities and mentally challenged. The band members are autistic, blind, and live with cerebral palsy, behavioral disorders, down syndrome and other disabilities.
The group has recorded an 13 song classic CD, which includes a second CD about the production.
On Saturday, one of the aired screen presentations was viewed on MPTV 10.1 in the Milwaukee metropolitan area. The film is based on the compelling account of the band's 12 week preparation leading up to their first June 22, 2008 major show at the Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. The performance captured the audience of more than 1,000 people, including mayors from 440 cities, their families. The film captivated their concert as a testament, that they are accomplished musicians. The band is directed by Javier Peña, the music program director who says, it's the first band of its kind in the country. Peña was hired in 1996.
In late 2007, filmmakers Jim Bigham and Mark Moorman collaborated with Goodwill's CEO Dennis Pastrana, music director Peña, and marketing executive, Lourdes Little, to launch a film that would be seen across America, and spotlight the abilities, rather than disabilities of the Spirit of Goodwill bandmembers. (Jim Bigham, Facebook)
The film "For Once In My Life" won the IDA/Music Documentry Award after it was released on March 2010 and the Audience Award Winner of the SXSW Film Festival 2010.
In July 2010, several band members were invited to the White House in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Disabilities Act 1991. In 1998, the band performed at the annual "Talent Show" held by the City of Miami Parks and Recreation Program for Persons with Disabilities. This was their first public performance. They were awarded First Prize. It also marked a turning point for the future development of the group, according to the Goodwill in South Florida.
Some of the members in the band includes Terry Wigfall, who is blind and is the lead singer that also plays a saxophone. Dennis Benitez another singer, Christian Acosta, who is blind and autistic, but plays the piano and Nancy Spagnolo, a Soprano with a New York accent. Their combine extraordinary abilities and musical talent has made it possible for them to shine as stars among stars as respected musicians in the U.S. and have overcome stereotypes while gaining international acknowledgement for their musical abilities and performances.
The Goodwill website indicates, because of the special people who are involved in the Goodwill music program, the training process requires even more time, dedication and patience. The group is divided into four categories: the vocalists, keyboards, rhythm section, and brass. The music instructors work on a one-to-one basis to assist each participant to learn at their own pace, taking into account their special needs. Instructors write the music scores customized for each participant. Most of them have learned to read music, others memorize it, while others rely on hand cues to be able to perform. Once everyone knows their individual part in a song, the process of assembling a song begins. The final success depends on: practice, practice, and more practice.
Band participants work in Goodwill jobs receiving training and employment services designed to help them achieve a level of development in which they can be placed in competitive community employment and become self supporting and independent. While working at Goodwill, they get paid on the basis of their productivity. Goodwill continues their pay while they attend music classes and band performances.
The musical experience has had a profound impact on the participants' lives helping them develop new skills, confidence, independent living skills, together with an enormous feeling of accomplishment and pride from the joy and satisfaction of making music. Thanks to this program, they have overcome many barriers in their social life, learning to see themselves as productive citizens and valuable individuals and have inspired many people with their talents.
The support from their parents and family members have positively inspired these accomplished musicians to continue developing their talents, according to Miami's Goodwill music program website.
A must see unique and talented band when ever in your area. 
Film program was produced by Big Blue Box Productions, Inc.

For Once In My Life Film Cast (In Order of Appearance)

Javier Pena, Terry Wigfall Melissa Cason, David Benitez, Jary Pulgarin, Juan Pulgarin, Christian Acosta, Sam Collins, Nancy Spagnolo and Godwin Lee.
Other Spirit of Goodwill Band players include, Omar Rodriguez, Victor Pegorar, Lisa Velasquez, Anthony Locke, Rodrigo Gamboa, Rita Roberts, Leonardo Sanchez, Carlos Alvarez, Alejandro Rivera, Henry Machado, Celina Peguerro, Alex Perez, Walter Anderson, Ellen Brant, Andrew Haines, Rosanel Maldonado, Patrick Mckoy, and Denise Stroud.

A film clip of the For Once In My Life documentry and the Spirit of Goodwill Band from Miami:

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