FOR THOSE ABOUT TO ROCK!

The CoRK Arts District will be the scene of some serious rocking this weekend as the third annual Girls Rock Jax Volunteer Showcase and Silent Auction kick out the jams to raise funds that will directly benefit Girls Rock Jax 2016 summer camp. The local nonprofit organization will showcase a string of performances by previous campers, a number of volunteers who work the summer camp, and a few professional ringers like Geexella, Ebony Payne, Honeycomb, and Juanita Parkerurban. Performances begin at 1 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20, and are sure to fill any heart with warmth and compassion … and melt your face with tasty licks.

The Girls Rock Jacksonville organization runs week-long camps during July, where girls ages 9-17 learn to play musical instruments, collaborate on songwriting, form a band and perform at a culminating showcase. The local chapter is an extension of the global Girls Rock Alliance, which has chapters all of the U.S. and Europe, and recently accepted a new chapter down in Brazil. Begun as the Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Oregon in 2007, the alliance facilitates the model for communities to embrace.

Here in Jacksonville, Girls Rock Jax is run by a pair of volunteers, Summer Wood and Sarah Humphreys, both of whom will be taking the stage during Sunday’s fundraiser.

“I became involved because of my interest in social justice and Girls Rock Jacksonville has empowered me to actually play music alongside the girls in the camp,” says Humphreys. “A lot of the volunteers have started playing music right along with our campers.”

The Volunteer Showcase was born from that shared interest in music. While some of the campers will be playing at the fundraiser, it’s sometimes difficult to schedule practice times and performances so far removed from their summer experience. That is why the showcase will feature the volunteer performances. The event accounts for most of the funding needed to run the summer camps.

For this reason, the team at Girls Rock Jax has also tapped into some local professionals to help fill out the afternoon and add to the event experience. One such artist, Juanita Parkerurban, a member of the well-known, well-loved Parker Urban Band, will share her sultry voice; she credits her involvement in the fundraiser directly to her experience volunteering last summer at the Girls Rock Jax camps.

“I did it all there this past summer and it was awesome,” says Parkerurban. “I prepped food, set up equipment, and talked to girls about picking up guitars and singing. But the most fulfilling part was talking with the girls about developing into what they should become, as opposed to what someone else wants them to be.”

A musician since the age of two and a professional since 2012, Parkerurban hopes that the girls will discover the freedom of expression and the healing comfort that she herself discovered in music.

“Truth be told, I only recently starting doing more solo stuff and the girls at the camp this past summer encouraged me and gave me my first audience,” says Parkerurban. She hopes that her story can become part of the Girls Rock Jax story as the organization continues to grow.

Now in its third year, Girls Rock Jax is hoping to continue to activate and motivate young girls to pick up an instrument and get to rocking. Their mission — to cultivate self-empowerment and positive identity development in girls, trans, and gender non-conforming youth through music experimentation, DIY media, and peer collaboration — resonates soundly with the young girls and parents in the community who saw the organization launch at the 2013 One Spark Festival.

The fundraising event and performances are open to the public and are family-friendly, with a sliding scale admission of $0 to $15 at the door. “We are hoping to raise $3,000 to help 45 girls this summer,” says Humphreys, “so, Jacksonville, you now have plans for Sunday, Dec. 20 at 1 p.m.”

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