LifeBEAT – Music Fights HIV/AIDS is the leading national nonprofit focused on educating America’s youth (aged 13-29) about HIV/AIDS and STD prevention. For 22 years, LifeBEAT has mobilized the music industry‘s resources to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and STDs through live music events, and via broadcast, digital, social, and print platforms. LifeBEAT also provides quality of life services and support for people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. LifeBEAT programs are funded through proceeds from special events, cause-related marketing projects, and voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations and are themselves are award-winning – its recent KYSS (Know Your Status Stage) campaign won a prestigious Effie Award (Gold) for marketing and advertising in June 2015.
For Art Lives, POBA’s tribute to a generation of artists lost to AIDS, LifeBeat has nominated two exceptionally talented music icons – from the performance and the production sides of the music industry spectrum – who died from AIDS: Sylvester, the ferociously flamboyant, cross-dressing, and cross-genre vocalist who took the 70s by storm in disco, then moved back to his roots in gospel and soul; and Mel Cheren, the innovative record executive who helped start the Paradise Garage, a focal point of the downtown Manhattan gay disco scene in the 1970s and ’80s,and the man who invented the 12 inch vinyl single record for his label, West End music. Here, however, LifeBeat brings us another side of Cheren – his remarkable artistry as a painter.
Through LifeBEAT’s nominations, we are able to see and remember the talent, passion and timeless accomplishments of these masters of music lost to us from AIDS and to learn a bit more about what shaped their vision and their lives.