By Isiah REYES
Singer-songwriter Jacob Whitesides, 17, performed at the Flintridge Preparatory School auditorium on Saturday to a crowd of more than 100 loyal fans and raised more than $16,000 to benefit Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services in the process.
The concert was organized by 14-year-old Delila Brown, an eighth grader at Flintridge Preparatory School. As a school assignment, Brown had to do a community impact project where she had to follow her passion in some way to create change. Brown’s science teacher Hilary Thomas said some students approached this project by deciding to tutor kids or they went around their neighborhood trying to get people to decrease their water usage. But Brown wanted to raise awareness of teen suicide, so she asked Thomas to help her find a good organization to work with.
“I have worked really closely with Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services on a separate project and I’ve always wanted to continue to help Didi Hirsch,” said Thomas. “They were wonderfully receptive.”
As for booking Whitesides to perform at this event, Brown had a little help there, too. Her father John Brown is the founder of Brown United, a company that builds structural projects for the entertainment industry. John Brown has a friend in the industry who helped her book Whitesides.
“My dad builds stages and has a friend who is a concert promoter,” Brown said. “He told me I should find someone who is not too famous, but up and coming, otherwise it would be hard to get the person to come. I found Jacob Whitesides on YouTube a few years ago and have been following him ever since.”
Before the concert began, fans were able to have a meet-and-greet with Whitesides, who is now an Internet phenomenon with more than 6 million views on YouTube and more than 1 million followers on Twitter. In 2012, Whitesides auditioned and made the first cut in the Fox Television music competition series “X-Factor” and also has songs charting high on iTunes.
All proceeds from the concert were dedicated to the Didi Hirsch organization.
“What I’m very happy about is that all of these young people are part of the force that is bringing suicide out of the shadows and taking away the stigma and taboo,” said Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services CEO Kitya Curry. “This concert is giving us a chance to let more people know that there is a 24-hour crisis line that people can call if they’re in terrible pain but they can also call if they’re worried about someone.”
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services provides mental health, substance use disorder and wellness services to more than 74,000 children and adults in 11 locations. To learn more, visit www.didihirsch.org.