Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Memorial Service for Andrea Lewis Tonight!

Tuesday, November 24th from 6 - 9 p.m. at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th Street, Oakland, CA 94612

The program honoring Andrea's life will include speeches, songs, poems, and will feature some of Andrea's favorite people and performers. Family, friends and listeners are welcome to join us in appreciating Andrea's brilliance and her lifelong commitment to journalism and the arts.

Journalist, musician, mentor, daughter, colleague, comrade and friend-Andrea Lewis filled all these roles, and more, with full-hearted commitment. Andrea brought out the best in those she met with her warmth, humor, and gift for intimacy.

A native of Detroit, Andrea moved to the Bay Area in 1983 after graduating from Eastern Michigan University, where she studied music, English literature and art history. She started her career in journalism as an editor for Plexus: West Coast Women's Press. In the late 1980s, she became a research editor for Mother Jones magazine. From there, she worked as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins before becoming a senior editor at Third Force Magazine. In 1996, Andrea joined Pacific News Service (now New America Media) as an associate editor.

Andrea came to KPFA radio in 1999 and for the past ten years, she woke up listeners both literally and figuratively-her deep, warm voice was what came out of the clock radio when the alarm went off. Andrea dedicated her life to challenging racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of prejudice, whether it was expressed blatantly or subtly. She communicated this passion for justice and equality in every interview she conducted-regardless of the subject area. And there were so many subject areas in which she was interested! She enjoyed speaking with guests about public affairs, music, the arts, literature, astronomy and sports. She was just as strong an advocate for social justice off the air as she was on, and she would frequently engage her colleagues in difficult conversations about how prejudice showed up in institutions-even those that consider themselves to be progressive.

Andrea was the host and producer of KPFA's Sunday Sedition and a co-anchor of The Evening News. For seven years prior to that, she had been the co-host and producer of The Morning Show. She also hosted national broadcasts for the Pacifica Network. Andrea continued her work in print journalism even after she came to KPFA, contributing articles to The Progressive magazine and The Progressive Media Project.

Andrea's work earned her accolades. She was extremely proud to be a 2008 Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. The National Federation of Community Broadcasters recognized her with a Special Merit award in 2002 for a series of interviews she did with jazz musicians. In 2004, the California Teachers Association presented her with its John Swett Award for Media Excellence for a segment she hosted and helped produce about mandatory testing.

Despite a consistently heavy workload and far too little remuneration, Andrea gave back to the community. In addition to being the master of ceremonies at numerous events, she was a fellow in the Society of Professional Journalists Diversity Leadership Program from 2006-2007, and she served on the board of Media Alliance.

Andrea sang with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus for more than twenty years, performing on their four Grammy-winning CDs, appearing in the Emmy-winning telecast of Sweeney Todd, and singing at Carnegie Hall. She was an avid golfer, an amateur astronomer, and a gifted massage therapist. She also enjoyed camping and studying Spanish.

Andrea is survived by her parents, Mae and Frank Lewis of Ocala, Florida, and her brother, Eric Lewis, and niece, Jasmine Erica Lewis, of Southfield, Michigan.

Knowing Andrea was a joy. Her booming laugh, compassionate spirit and brilliant insights will echo in our hearts and minds for years to come.

The celebration of Andrea's life was really wonderful; the little church on 14th Street near the freeway was so full, by the time I arrived to hear Stephen Kent perform on the didjeridu, the only seats were in the balcony, a fact I understood once the San Francisco Symphony Chorus performed (there were a lot of them). There was poetry, Opal Palmer Adisa's Voice on the Radio so true--Andrea was the only voice on the radio that mattered for a lot of us. I really missed her when she went to Stanford on a Knight Fellowship for Professional Journalists and just catching her on the evening news, not in the morning--It was great waking to her voice.

Sprinkled in with the musical tributes from UpSurge! Jazz Poetry, Kitka and Dance Brigade, were Andrea sound montages mixed in with appearances by some of Andrea's interviewees like Poet Laureatte Al Young and SF State professor and Andrea's friend, Larry Solomon. Andrea's aunt, Dr. Lydia Alexander spoke and so did her big brother, Eric. Amazing, the family drove from Florida to New Orleans to pick up more family and then continued the drive here.

They are leaving at three this morning on the way back, Eric said. KPFA was in the house, but so were others from New American Media, San Francisco Bay View and perhaps other media. I didn't see the Post or Globe.

It was a great evening and I'm sure Andrea loved it too.

Her mom and dad and other relatives are in the top photos. Mrs. Lewis's birthday is December 2. She is coming back to the West Coast for her birthday party in Nevada. Andrea was going to meet her there. She decided to continue with her plans because Andrea would have wanted her to. We are going to host a special birthday tribute for Andrea this June on my radio show, Wanda's Picks, so stay tuned.


Post a Comment

<< Home