The Detroit rapper gives a one-on-one performance of his song “Inspire Me” to his mother, Myra Anderson, at a private hometown party on Jan. 29, 2017. Brian McCollum, Detroit Free Press Pop Music Critic
Rapper Big Sean was just 24 when he launched his Sean Anderson Foundation — intent on heeding his grandma’s advice to “make sure you’re a humanitarian who gives back,” as he told the Free Press at the time.
Seven years later, the Detroit-based foundation is still rolling strong, and is now set to host its second annual DON Weekend, an August slate of activities that will include the dedication of Big Sean’s second Detroit recording facility for students.
The rapper will also lead an Aug. 18 panel on mental health, seeking to continue the conversation he started in March with a series of viral Instagram posts revealing his battles with anxiety and depression.
“Last year’s D.O.N. Weekend was a huge success, and I’m excited to bring it back for the second year in a row. I have so much love for Detroit and can’t wait to celebrate it with all of the people who make the city great,” said Big Sean in a released statement.
Myra Anderson, Big Sean’s mom and foundation president, outlined the activities for the upcoming DON Weekend — “Detroit’s On Now” — which will take place Aug. 17-18 in a new partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM).
• The Sean Anderson Foundation Production Studio will be inaugurated at 11 a.m. Aug. 17 in a media-only event at the Dauch Boys & Girls Club on Detroit’s west side. The facility, announced in April, is aligned with Big Sean’s Mogul Prep program catering to young people interested in entertainment and fashion careers.
The studio will include audio and video editing bays, a podcasting space and a stage with full production capabilities where kids can be trained in lighting and other crafts.
“We use the music industry as a hook to get students interested and expose them to careers. Not everybody will be a rapper, singer or performer, but there are scores of different professions in the entertainment industry,” Myra Anderson said. “I’ve found out that nothing motivates kids more than music, and that’s the idea behind it — to keep kids off the streets.”
It follows a training studio opened by Big Sean in 2015 at Cass Tech, his high school alma mater.
• Big Sean and Detroit City Councilwoman Mary Sheffield are teaming up for a free Aug. 17 block party and “Occupy the Corner” event at the Dauch campus that will include carnival rides and performances by Detroit artists such as Neisha Neshae, Icewear Vezzo and Payroll Giovanni.
But it’s also an afternoon of grassroots engagement, including “a job bus, felony expungement info, utility assistance, health screenings, music and dancing,” Anderson said. About 2,000 backpacks will be handed out to student attendees.
“It’s a fun day,” Anderson said. “But it’s also something to uplift the community — that’s the whole idea behind the DON Weekend.”
It comes amid a $750,000 reboot of the Dauch Boys & Girls Club, pilot site for the BGCSM’s new “Reimagine” campaign.
• Big Sean’s free mental health panel will run from 2-4:30 p.m. on Aug. 18, again at the Dauch site. He’ll be joined by Detroit-born scholar Michael Eric Dyson and celebrity psychiatrist (and friend of Beyoncé) Dr. Jessica Clemons for a conversation that Anderson hopes will run the gamut.
“I’ve asked (Dyson) to talk about how racism, economic oppression and the legal system have affected mental health in the black and brown community,” she said. “We’re going to discuss signs that you may need to seek help, and I hope they’ll talk about different kinds of therapy — I know Dr. Jess is big on yoga and meditation.”
Anderson called her son’s public revelations of mental health struggles “brave,” and said he will elaborate on his circumstances.
“We want the stigma to go away, especially for men, and especially for black men, who often have (the mindset) of, ‘I can handle anything (on my own),’ ” Anderson said.
• DON Weekend will wrap up with a night of bowling, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 18, at the Garden Bowl in Detroit’s Majestic complex. The event is free but space is limited, and attendees must register in advance via Eventbrite.
Additionally, ride service Lyft is offering discounted transportation to Big Sean’s events. Users can deploy the promo code DONWEEKEND for events at the Dauch club, and DONBOWL for the bowling party.
The 2019 DON Weekend is being funded in part by presenting sponsor Ally Bank, along with Puma, the Detroit Pistons, Quicken Loans, Fratarcangeli Wealth Management, Essentia Water and D’USSE .
For Anderson, DON Weekend helps fulfill the mission laid out by her hit-making son when he launched his foundation in 2012.
“It came out of him wanting to do something for the city — and acknowledging the people still in the city who didn’t leave for the suburbs, the people who have stayed in Detroit,” she said. “That was the motivation and the idea behind it.”
Big Sean’s 2019 DON Weekend schedule:
(Full details on the DON Weekend website)
11 a.m. Aug. 17: Sean Anderson Foundation Production Studio, Dauch Boys & Girls Club (private event)
Noon-6 p.m. Aug. 17: Detroit Block Party and Occupy the Corner, Dauch Boys & Girls Club, 16500 Tireman, Detroit
2-4:30 p.m. Aug. 18: Mental Health Awareness Discussion with Big Sean, Michael Eric Dyson and Dr. Jess Clemons, Dauch Boys & Girls Club
6-9 p.m. Aug 18: Bowling party, Garden Bowl, 4120 Woodward, Detroit
Contact Detroit Free Press music writer Brian McCollum: 313-223-4450 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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