Notes & Words Wows Guests

Best-selling authors, acclaimed musicians, and talented local youth wowed audiences at the eighth annual Notes & Words, which raised $1.5 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland.

Bringing together mesmerizing music and witty words, Notes & Words is the hospital’s biggest annual fundraiser. This year, more than 1,600 guests flocked to Oakland’s Fox Theater on May 13 for the eclectic event.

“It’s amazing to get to have such a fabulous time while knowing that we’re making a true difference in the lives of the children the hospital serves.” – Kelly Corrigan

Writer Kelly Corrigan, who launched Notes & Words in 2010, hosted the show and read a poignant passage from her forthcoming book Tell Me More.

“Every year, I’m blown away by the incredible and diverse talents of our performers,” Corrigan said of the event. “It’s amazing to get to have such a fabulous time while knowing that we’re making a true difference in the lives of the children the hospital serves.”

Longtime New Yorker contributor Calvin Trillin drew major laughs with pithy personal stories, including a recollection of sparring with this sister during family road trips. Best-selling author Michael Lewis shared an intimate, self-deprecating tale that he joked might mortify his daughter, who was in the audience.

Oakland School for the Arts’ a cappella ensemble Vocal Rush flexed their award-winning vocal skills, and Seattle band The Head and the Heart’s soulful, folksy melodies earned them a standing ovation.

Daveed Diggs, Tony award winner for blockbuster Broadway musical “Hamilton,” performed lightning-fast raps—after recalling spending time at UCSF Benioff Oakland as a child when his brother had surgery there.

The day before Notes & Words, Diggs visited the hospital and led a jam session with patients through the Jared Kurtin Music Therapy program, which uses the healing power of music to support recovery. In addition to making memories with the delighted patients, Diggs also made a generous donation to the program.

Another performer with a hospital connection was Sierra Williams, a patient who played guitar and sang, backed by the Oakland School of the Arts Chamber Choir. After years of migraines, Sierra had multiple brain surgeries at the hospital—almost impossible to believe based on her virtuoso performance, which many guests described as the highlight of the evening.

“You never know who you’re saving; you never know what future you’re making possible,” Corrigan said of Williams.

Interspersed between performances, current UCSF Benioff Oakland inpatients showed off their own talents—singing, reading poetry, dancing—via video clips produced by Teak, a design studio that supports Notes & Words.

VIP guests attended glamorous pre- and post-show parties, enjoying treats like a doughnut bar, margarita station, chicken and waffles, oysters, and sushi. Hip hop artist MC Hammer revved up the crowd as DJ at the after party, with guests dancing until the early morning.

“This was my first Notes & Words, and I could not have been more impressed,” said Dr. Mike Anderson, president of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. “The caliber of the performers and the passion for the hospital’s mission was incredible. I’m already looking forward to next year.”

Visit Flickr for photos of the event.

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