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Kennedy Center, John Legend Launch Youth Campaign

1/31/2012, 4:09 p.m.

"What's Going On...NOW" Aims to Inspire and Engage Teens

WASHINGTON, D.C. --Singer-songwriter John Legend joined the Kennedy Center on Jan. 31 to launch "What's Going On...NOW," a national arts and digital media campaign to inspire and engage youth while marking the 40th anniversary of Marvin Gaye's iconic album and his 1972 Kennedy Center performance.

Online now at www.whatsgoingonnow.org, the project will culminate with two concerts at the Kennedy Center May 3-4, 2012 featuring John Legend with Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings, and the National Symphony Orchestra.

Using Marvin Gaye's music as a catalyst, the Kennedy Center's campaign asks: "How have things changed in the last 40 years? What's going on...now?" Young people can go to www.whatsgoingonnow.org and share their own creative perspectives on the similarities and differences between Marvin Gaye's "then" and their own "now." They can upload video, photos, poems, music - whatever art form inspires their own creative expression.

"'What's Going On' is an anthem for today's times," said Darrell M. Ayers, vice president of Education at the Kennedy Center. "Marvin Gaye's music hit an emotional nerve and awakened many to a new social consciousness. We're seeing that same awakening now across America. Through this project, we are asking young people to capture the spirit of 'What's Going On....NOW' and use the arts to tell us what is happening in their lives and communities today."

In 1971, Gaye's album spurred audiences to reflect on the times. In 1972, he performed What's Going On during the Kennedy Center's inaugural season.

The Kennedy Center will celebrate this historic performance with a week of celebrations in May 2012 that will culminate in a national youth summit with representatives from Washington, D.C. and seven youth groups around the country. Partner cities include: Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Santa Fe. On May 3 and 4, John Legend, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, and the National Symphony Orchestra will come together to re-imagine Gaye's performance in an evening-length concert.