Victor McElhaney is the focus of a beautiful image that was sent to Zennie62Media this morning and that you see, above. The artwork was commissioned, by Cava Menzies of Colorqueen.org from Oakland released today by Jaz Sawyer’s label Pursuance Records.
Unfortunately, one has to recount the story that was the catalyst for it. According to reports, Victor McElhaney, the son of Oakland District Three Councilmember Lynette Gibson McElhaney, was shot outside a strip-mall liquor store about a mile and a half from The USC Campus and at about 12:30 a.m. March 10 2019. A group of three or four men attempted to mug him and his friends, and one of the men shot McElhaney.
Perhaps no better tribute to Victor McElhaney can be found that the one placed by his school, The USC Thornton School Of Music. Here is part of it:
In his tragically brief life, Victor McElhaney left a deep and lasting impression in every community he touched, from the USC Thornton School of Music to the Bay Area where he was raised. Following his death on Sunday, March 10, expressions of sorrow and condolences ranged from his USC classmates and faculty to musicians far and wide.
McElhaney was drumming before he could walk or talk, as his family often said. He transferred to USC Thornton in Fall 2017, choosing the university with an eye towards following the great jazz artists trained at USC, and to utilize the power of music as a tool for social activism. As many of his family members and instructors have noted, McElhaney believed that music “could change the world.”
A native of Oakland and the son of Oakland Councilwoman Lynette Gibson McElhaney, McElhaney developed his love of music and activism as a young man. Active in his church, he was both a volunteer on the AV/Sound Team and a participant in the church’s campaign targeting street violence and homicide. In high school, he co-founded the Pan African Student Union.
The drummer studied at the Oakland Public Conservatory of Music (OPCM), the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, the Oakland School for the Arts and California State University, East Bay. He began at OPCM as an 11-year-old and would later become a teen mentor for younger students at the conservatory and also teach African Roots of Drumming.
McElhaney turned his musical focus to jazz studies in his early teens, performing at venues such as Yoshi’s Jazz Club and acting as a cultural ambassador in Peru and China. When he arrived at USC Thornton, McElhaney was already performing at a professional level, said Peter Erskine, Director of Drumset Studies, who also taught McElhaney privately for a year. “He had the touch, the feel and the musical understanding of a seasoned jazz musician,” said Erskine.
During his time at USC, McElhaney participated in both the Afro Latin American Jazz Ensemble (ALAJE) and a student jazz combo both under the leadership of Aaron Serfaty, with whom he also studied privately. He spent a year in a combo under the direction of jazz vocalist Kathleen Grace who noted the young drummer’s love for the music of Betty Carter and the fact that he was “full to the brim with musical ideas that he wanted to share.”
Rest in Peace, Victor.
Stay tuned.Oakland News Now is by Zennie62Media, Inc with CEO Zenophon Abraham. Hire Zennie62Media, Inc to tell your story. We have clients like Insight Terminal Solutions and the Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, with Phil Tagami as co-developer and John Siegel as CEO of ITS. We also helped Maria Ayerdi Kaplan, the creator of the Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco. Subscribe to Zennie62 YouTube Channel, today!