Berkeley High grad Daveed Diggs was back in the East Bay last week to help raise funds for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland — a place he recalled visiting himself as a child, and where his brother once had surgery.
Diggs, who won both a Grammy and a Tony for his spectacular portrayal of Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in the hit Broadway show Hamilton, performed at the Fox Theater in Oakland Saturday at the eighth annual Notes & Words event, which raised an estimated $1.6 million for Children’s Hospital.
More than 1,600 guests enjoyed performances by, among others, the Oakland School for the Arts, bestselling authors Kelly Corrigan, Calvin Trillin, and Michael Lewis, indie band The Head and the Heart, and, perhaps most memorably, Diggs. The musician, who is also the vocalist for the group Clipping, and is known for the speed with which he raps, had called up old friends, most of them local, to perform with him at the Fox, including fellow Berkeley High grad Samora Pinderhughes who was on keyboards. After rehearsing with them prior to the show, Diggs and the group also performed with students from the Oakland School for the Arts.
Diggs also spent two hours Friday morning visiting Children’s hospital and observing its music therapy action in action. He participated in sessions in the playrooms and visited some patients bedside, according to Maya Charlton, one of the hospital’s team of three board-certified music therapists.
Music therapy at Children’s is a clinical evidence-based intervention that supports a patient’s physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being. The Jared Kurtin Music Therapy program was founded in 2008 and is named in memory of Jared Kurtin, a former patient and pianist who passed away in 2005. The program was the first of its kind in the Bay Area and is supported by Another Planet Entertainment and the Perloff Family Foundation among others.
While at the hospital, Diggs did an improvised rap accompanied by the group of patients, as can be seen in the video above, and made what was described as a very generous donation to the music therapy program.