DMC Teams With Garden of Dreams Foundation for Annual Talent Show
Darryl "DMC" McDaniels is well known as part of the legendary group Run-DMC, but after years of influencing a generation of hip-hoppers with colorful lyrics, gold chains and Adidas, the New York City native has dedicated his recent years to molding a new generation of youth.
McDaniels has invested his time in working with several children's charities, including his current partnership with the Garden of Dreams Foundation -- a non-profit organization intended to nurture the talents of underprivileged children. The BoomBox caught up with McDaniels at Radio City Music Hall earlier this month where he offered inner-city children a few tips to perfect their musical performances for the Garden of Dream's Sixth Annual Spring Talent show, which will be held on April 28, at Radio City Music Hall.
"Last year, they had the kids produce a TV show for Fuse and they needed a subject to interview, so I came in," he said, explaining how he originally got involved with Garden of Dreams. "The kids put the whole show together – worked the cameras, did the interview, production, sound and light -- and I was the subject that they focused on," he said. "I really loved it because it gave the kids experience."
According to McDaniels, the power of the Garden of Dreams Foundation lies in the hands-on training it offers to youth, who otherwise have limited opportunities. "These kids see poverty, violence and despair and they don't have outlets to let [their talents] out. Garden of Dreams really gives kids hope that they can feel and touch. It gives them a feasible hope," he said, emphasizing that providing children with outlets to develop their confidence is the best way to build a brighter future for them. "Sometimes you need to just take kids and put them in a situation where you can see what's in them. Most of the time people say: 'I hope he does well,' but hoping isn't enough. Just create an environment where these kids can participate and for those few hours or days, they feel like they're alive and that they mean something."
Some of McDaniels' passion for working with children stems from his own roots as a foster child. "There are people in the world that will help you get to where you're supposed to go and all of this is just giving back what I had when I was little," he said. Hip-hop legend or not, DMC says that it's necessary to keep the cycle going. "There's no difference. I'm not a celebrity," he said. "I am you. And it helps them to see and be in real time with people who walked the same streets that they did. I probably wrote my first rap at 12-years-old, but I didn't perform until Run-DMC did their first show when I was 18. These kids have a lot to offer because I would've never gotten in a room in front of a bunch of people and did what these little kids are doing."
After watching the children showcase their musical abilities – which ranged from rapping and playing instruments to tap dancing – McDaniels did his best to give positive pointers. "I don't really want to critique the kids, because they're so cute, and it's not like they've been rehearsing for fifteen years. So the main message I want to give them, and to help them feel comfortable, is to just have fun!" he said. "I always tell people that Run-DMC didn't take [our music] that seriously. Me, Run and Jay did it because we loved the music. So my best advice to these kids is to just have fun and enjoy what they're doing."
After years of charity work, including co-founding the Felix Organization, which mobilized funds to send inner-city children to summer camp, McDaniels maintains that working with children should always be a hands-on process. "I've got a saying that you can't just give out turkeys on Thanksgiving," he said. "You've got to give out the turkey, and give out hope -- you've got to teach people that they have the same ability as you to go get their own."
The Sixth Annual Garden of Dreams Spring Talent Show will take place at Radio City Music Hall on Wednesday, April 28. The show will be hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.