Bernadette is a force. Music is her power. She has been singing since she was a child. Her mother was a music professor in Baltimore, her father a minister. She started singing as a child and progressed to singing in a band in her teens.
Bernadette Meets Stevie Wonder
As a teenager she had a wonderful experience that helped shape her career. She attended a Stevie Wonder concert while in high school. She was able to make her way back stage, and met Stevie. They became fast friends. His manager was a member of her father’s church. So, the connection was strong. She didn’t tell Stevie she was a singer for several years. It wasn’t until she had moved to Seattle and was performing at a club in Olympia, Washington, with the group “Epicenterl”. She heard he was performing at the stadium there at the same time , so she called him to say hello, and he asked her what she was doing. She said she was performing in the club, and he was surprised. He asked why she hadn’t told him that she sang, and she answered “You d
on’t tell Stevie Wonder that you sing!” He asked to hear some of her work, so she sent him a recording. He loved it! He called her and told her a ticket to Los Angeles would be waiting for her at the airport. She became the first recording artist on Stevie’s recording label TAMLA.
Bernadette performed with several bands over the years. She sang on a #1 hit with “Peoples Choice,” “Do it Anyway You Wanna.” While on tour in Seattle in August of 1975, she fell in love with this area and stayed for some time. The city had a thriving soul music scene in the 60’s & 70’s. She performed with the groups Epicenter and Acapulco Gold. Stevie actually made a surprise appearance (photo above) at Seattle’s legendary Parker’s nightclub once while she was performing there with Epicenter.
Taking advantage of a new opportunity, Bernadette moved to Las Vegas with The Sunny Turner Show. Later, she performed at the New York, New York Hotel in The Motown Cafe for 10 years. She also began teaching in Las Vegas. She developed a wonderful program for children called “Spell to Rhythm.” She also became a mother to her beautiful daughter Chokise in Las Vegas. Life was good.
Bernadette connects in Bothell
But, her heart was still in Seattle so she moved back in 2005. Once here she heard that SAS (Secondary Academy for Success) in Bothell was thinking about starting a music program. Bernadette met with them and “The Music Project“ was born. She started teaching a group of teens and many of them stayed with her throughout their high school years. She also taught at several other schools including Timbercrest Jr. High in Woodinville. While teaching there one of her young students kept telling her that her cousin, would love her class. Eventually the young girl mentioned that her cousin was Sanjaya Malakar. At that time he was auditioning for “American Idol”. Bernadette did eventually meet with Sanjaya and became his voice couch. They have remained great friends, and he attributes much of his success to her.
Bernadette expanded her teaching to Northwest University in Kirkland as an adjunct professor.
I met Bernadette in 2011 while attending a concert at Highway 99 Blues Club in Seattle. My husband and I had gone to see “Bump Kitchen” a great local funk and blues band. During the concert the band introduced a guest artist, Bernadette Bascom. During the introduction they mentioned her connection with SAS (Secondary Academy for Success) in Bothell.
I need to explain a little bit about myself at this point. I have a son with disabilities. When he was in school he never participated in any school clubs or sports. Not so much because he didn’t have the desire, but because he was never asked. Kids with disabilities often feel like outsiders and don’t have the self confidence to do it on their own. My son was part of an inclusion and recreation program in Bothell called ” The Northshore Wranglers.” The group had recently started expanding the services they offered. When I heard of Bernadette’s connection to SAS, it made me think this might be an opportunity for the Wranglers.
During a break, I stopped her and asked if she had ever considered teaching people with disabilities. Her response: “I would be honored.”
I scheduled a meeting with the director of the Northshore Wranglers, Cole Caplan, and Bernadette. That was the beginning of a fabulous addition to “The Music Project.” Bernadette agreed to teach singing to any person interested through the Northshore Wrangler program. The turn out was amazing, young people with varied disabilities showed up. There was an instant connection between Bernadette and these kids. I really hadn’t thought that my own son, who wears hearing aids, would be interested, but he was. At some of the first classes I was literally brought to tears. Bernadette gave these kids who had never been asked to participate in anything before a voice, and they sang their hearts out!
Bernadette decided that this group would put on a holiday musical production. So , in December of 2011 the first “Northshore Wranglers Music Project” program was performed. John Sharify with King 5 News got wind of the event, and produced a documentary on Bernadette and “The Music Project” called “Bernadette’s Touch.” The documentary won a National Emmy award! That was the beginning of a wonderful creative connection between Bernadette and people of all ages with disabilities. The Northshore Wranglers continues to have their singing classes in the spring, summer, and fall with a concert every December. The next one is this coming Friday, December 2, 2016, at The Northshore Senior Center. Admission is free. Donations for the Wranglers are gratefully accepted.
But, remember I said Bernadette is a force. So, she must keep moving forward. She was next invited by the Northshore School District to begin inclusion singing classes with mainstream and disabled students together. The first class was held at Skyview Junior High last year. In the spring they held their first concert at The Northshore Performing Arts Center to a full house. This year her class is being held at Woodmoor Elementary School.
She continues to get requests for information about “The Music Project” from all over the United States.
Last year the old Anderson School in Bothell was remodeled and opened as McMenamin’s Anderson School Hotel, Restaurants, and Events Center. To honor people who have contributed to the Bothell community, McMenamin’s named rooms after them and had portraits painted of each individual. Bernadette Bascom is one of those people. In case you are looking for her room in the hotel it’s room 315. Her portrait is on the lower level just inside the south door.
Music has the power to heal, to create, to inspire. Bernadette Bascom has taken that power and used it to touch so many lives. She continues to perform, to teach in schools, universities, and privately. She continues to reach out with love to develop opportunities for others to grow and blossom. Bothell is extremely fortunate that she has chosen to reside here.
For more information: https://www.bernadettebascom.com/
For information on private singing lessons: 443-857-5940
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