A Musical Note in the Key of Beauty
with E.W. Wainwright
"We fully support this film."
To be distributed nationally for
Black History Month 2021 by NETA
check local public TV listings
Premiered in the SF Bay Area on
Northern California Public Media
for Black History Month 2020.
Jazz drummer and teacher E.W. Wainwright is using music to connect with underserved kids. His African Roots of Jazz Performing Arts Academy takes center stage in the new documentary
Baba Wain: A Musical Note in the Key of Beauty.
The half-hour film follows E.W.-- known affectionately to his students as "Baba Wain"-- through a normal day of music instruction and counseling at the elementary school where he serves as positive climate coach and director of the drum team. But interspersed between teaching beats and offering firm and caring guidance, Baba Wain shares the fascinating rhythm of his own personal story.
He tells of his grass roots involvement in the civil rights movement and one particularly harrowing misadventure at a Tennessee dentist office with connections to the Ku Klux Klan. Despite experiencing daunting racism firsthand he stayed true to his calling as a drummer and started playing with noted artists around the world.
E.W.'s African Roots of Jazz Ensemble band figures prominently in the documentary which features several of their gigs playing at popular venues around the San Francisco Bay Area.
As the film ends, former students join him on stage to lead a rap for the audience. Now grown and at the start of successful careers of their own, they still clearly love their life mentor who remains by their side. Baba Wain says that at the core of all of his efforts is an emphasis on caring. "Peace and love is part of everything we do here," he states, "Peace and love."
Above, graduates of E.W.'s youth program join him on stage.
Left, Baba Wain leads early morning drum practice with the school Spirit Team.
Right, a break in shooting on location at Learning Without Limits School, Oakland, CA.
with producer Rick Bacigalupi.
LWL photos by Lindsey Waldron