Annual concert brings together former Paseo Academy faculty musicians

West Plaza resident Toni Gates had the idea for her One by One Concert to celebrate local musicians who weren’t always in the spotlight – the teachers she worked with at the Paseo Academy. That was seven years ago, and the concert continues every year to give Gates and her friends an outlet for live performance and a chance to give back to the community through a charitable contribution. Photo credit: Roger Goldblatt.

West Plaza resident and recording artist Toni Gates started her annual One by One Concert years ago when she was teaching music at the Paseo Academy, a Kansas City school focused on the performing arts. As she looked around at fellow faculty members, she says, “I realized that, at the time, I had friends who were serious, amazing musicians. They were also great educators.” She thought the educators deserved a chance to get into the spotlight, and she invited them to join her on stage.

Teri Wilder, this year’s guest artist, is formerly from Kansas City.

And now, on October 6, they’ll come together again for their eighth annual One by One Concert. The original Paseo teachers currently in the Toni Gates Ensemble include: Sam Beckett, Ana Beckett, Steve Rigazzi, Jessica Best, Tom Ransom and Clarence Smith. This year, they’ll be joined by guest artist Teri Wilder of San Diego. They’ll perform a wide assortment of music styles including Gates’ original compositions, music from Stevie Nicks, and music by artists such as India Arie, Johnny Cash, Sarah Bareilles, Christina Aquilera, Alicia Keyes and Journey.

Gates has been a featured vocalist with big bands, jazz combos, on radio commercials and a regular at the Quality Hill Playhouse. She’s also worked as a vocal instructor at Penn Valley Community College, Music Arts Institute, the 18th and Vine History and Performing Arts Summer Academy and the University of Kansas.

Gates says when she was in college, she performed a great deal, but her focus has changed since she became a parent. Her daughter is now six. “I have to be a mom and a good one. But no way can I exist without creating music. I just can’t seem to resist writing.”

Gates is putting most of her energy into recording these days, working as a member of the cooperative Artists Recording Collaborative in Leavenworth, Kansas.  She has produced three CDs and is about to start on her fourth.

The annual concert gives an outlet for her music and a chance to perform with good friends. The concert has also grown to feature sponsorships that allow the musicians to make charitable contributions. This year, their proceeds will go to Furry Friends, a nonprofit for unwanted and abused domestic animals.

Gates says her personal goal is to do 20 annual shows – and then pass the project on to her daughter — who, by the way, is already waiting to get on stage herself.

The Toni Gates Ensemble with Teri Wilder performs Saturday, October 6 at 7 p.m. at Unity Temple on the Plaza. More information

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