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DSA raising funds to play at Carnegie Hall


DSA Wind Symphony

By Puakea Olaisha Anderson
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Detroit School of Arts students was recently invited to Carnegie Hall, but there is one problem: Lack of funding.

Detroit School of Arts was recently awarded $2.5 million from The Knight Foundation. However, the University of Michigan delegates how the money is to be spent. U-M officials disperse the money over a five-year period. The students have only received $10,000 from the grant, which is divided between the three groups totaling over 100 students that will be attending Carnegie Hall: DSA Achievers Lady Ensemble, DSA Symphony Orchestra and DSA Wind Symphony.

“We are a self-governing school and University of Michigan is one of our partners,” says Connie Malabed, choral director for DSA’s Achievers Lady Ensemble. “We had to send a printout of how much the trip totaled, including transportation, hotels and participation. Then they made a determination of how much we could get.”

Between the choir, band and orchestra, it is estimated the trip will cost $30,000. The students and faculty of DSA are remaining positive about the situation and have since begun fundraisers.

“We had a really fun bowl-a-thon with the band and orchestra across the street,” says Martenni Ramsey, a 12th grade student who sings first soprano for Achievers Lady Ensemble. “We had to get people to sponsor us and we gained 5 cents a pin.”

The students have also sold Little Caesars Pizza kits to raise money. So far the students have raised a total of nearly $8,000 — making them $12,000 short of their goal. The students have to come up with $979 dollars individually, two weeks before the trip. Demaris Doss, a junior who plays first violin and is assistant concertmistress, is a seven-year violin player for the DSA Symphony Orchestra and explains to the Michigan Citizen what it means for her to go to Carnegie Hall.

“I am really excited and I have never been to New York and I always dreamed of going to Carnegie Hall. I just never thought it would happen so soon at 17,” says Doss. “It means so much to me because students do not have enough music programs in DPS and I feel like we are so fortunate to have that and then to be able to go to New York and perform. Only the best in the world performs at Carnegie Hall.”

Sean Smith is the choir director for DSA Symphony Orchestra and his group, along with DSA’s Wind Symphony, under the direction of Ron Malabed, will be leaving for Carnegie Hall on March 27. The students have been practicing over 10 hours a week since September.

“It is definitely a milestone for me, to say the least,” says Smith. “I am definitely looking forward to performing at Carnegie Hall. This is the first for me to be in Carnegie Hall, let alone be on stage. I am really excited.”

The students of DSA are determined to reach their goal and with the help of their directors of music, they seem very confident. “It’s a good opportunity for us to travel the world and going beyond our plank. If we go, we will have more ability to do what we want to do in life. This is an opportunity that we may not ever have again,” says Shaylana Boyce-Motley, a 10th grader who plays the C flute for DSA’s Wind Symphony.

The trials and tribulations have not changed the culture of DSA’s spirit about going to Carnegie Hall. According to the directors, parents are stepping up to the plate to find sponsors for the whole ensemble and students continue to be excited and still in disbelief of their achievement. There were three applications sent out from the three different groups at DSA and all were invited.

“It means that we are special and I was like, wow. Especially coming from Detroit, a place where people look down on us,” said Alexis Patmon, 12th grade alto for DSA’s Achievers Lady Ensemble. “We can say that we are Detroiters going to Carnegie Hall. This means a lot to me.”

Achievers Lady Ensemble will be leaving for Carnegie Hall April 25. DSA will have a benefit March 22 in DSA’s Studio A for the three groups. For more information or to donate, visit, type in keyword DSA or donate in person at DSA, 123 Seldon Ave.. Detroit. Phone: 313.494.6000.

Contact Puakea Olaisha Anderson at


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