It’s typically challenging for artists to find consistent funding for their work, but for minorities, this effort can prove even more difficult. So three brothers from the Akron area have started a fund in the name of their grandmother, which will go toward offering financial support for minority arts students at the collegiate level.
“Growing up in the arts, there was little to no funding for us collegiately,” says Jaron LeGrair, a singer and speech and voice coach, who adds that as he once sought scholarships and grants, the funding opportunities were sparse. “For musicians and artists, there was nothing for us.”
So the brothers looked back to their grandmother for inspiration. LeGrair, along with brothers Durrell and Emmanuel, have started the Flossye J. Bass Foundation. Their grandmother, and the foundation’s namesake, was given the opportunity to pursue opera but wasn’t able to due to the time she lived in, say the LeGrair brothers. “She never got a chance to pursue everything she loved, so the three of us grandchildren are artists ourselves,” he adds. “We are kind of living out what she wanted to do. We wanted to encourage other people in college to pursue what they want to do.”
“A lot of people in college are discouraged to go into the arts, because there’s no money, there’s no jobs. We want to be a voice saying, ‘We take you seriously.’”
He adds: “That’s why we started this foundation: to encourage tomorrow’s artists.”
Durrell LeGrair, a singer and composer, says the brothers have been singing since they were 2 or 3 years old. He recalls standing on the stairs at home, in front of a mirror, pretending they were in a church choir and singing for hours. “We’ve been entrenched in singing for our whole lives,” he says.
Music is the glue that has held the family together, he adds. “It’s really been a hallmark in the LeGrair household.”
He says the group is “reachable, touchable and local” and whatever they raise they will give right back to the community by helping up and coming musicians.
Even if residents aren’t able to give much, every little bit does make a difference, he adds. “Whatever money we can get, even the smallest amount, that makes a huge difference and can mean the world to somebody.”
The third brother involved in the foundation is Emmanuel LeGrair, who’s also a singer and composer.
The brothers recently wrapped up an Indiegogo campaign, but donations to the Flossye J. Bass Foundation for the Arts may be sent by contacting [email protected].