Straight Outta Crenshaw
Iris Stevenson (Story & Video)
I'll never forget how much fun we had with Iris and her choir students at Crenshaw High School -- located right smack-dab in the middle of South Central Los Angeles, one of the roughest neighborhoods in America. Iris grew up in the projects of Buffalo, New York and music afforded her a better life so she wanted to give back. When Iris first started at Crenshaw, she realized that she could offer her students just about everything that the gangs could. She could offer them something to belong to, a sense of power, a feeling of accomplishment, a framework within which to compete and a chance to be heard. Iris knew that her students just wanted the same thing that everyone wants -- a chance to be somebody. Against all odds, the Crenshaw High School Choir has become an award-winning and internationally distinguished choir, and Iris and her students have travelled the world sharing their amazing music. They have played for presidents and world leaders, and were even the inspiration for the movie, Sister Act 2. Iris has become a world-renowned music teacher and has had many offers and opportunities to do other things, but she chooses to stay and teach at Crenshaw High.
Photo, Iris Stevenson & the Crenshaw High School Choir. Choral Director Magazine; Video excerpt. Unsung Heroes Network; Photo, Iris Stevenson & the Crenshaw High School Choir. Marion Jusselme & Pierre Chermette