Hit R&B record producer and ten year Marina del Rey resident Kashif seeks to make his impact felt in the lives of foster children as greatly as his impact has been felt in the rhythm-and-blues music business. Kashif is stepping up his charitable efforts this year through his nonprofit agency iCare and the Celebrity Sports & Entertainment Camp.
Kashif is planning summer concert fundraisers in New York in May and Los Angeles in August to raise awareness — and money — for the enrichment of foster children.
For a number of years, Kashif has mentored foster children and worked with agencies, including Casey Family Programs and the Department of Children & Foster Services.
In 2006, he went to Sacramento and met with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of a team attempting to secure an additional $83 million in the state budget for foster care related expenses.
What is it that makes foster care a charitable cause so close to Kashif’s heart?
Surprise! He’s been there himself.
As a child, Kashif grew up in Brooklyn toughing out eight foster homes and what he describes as abandonment and abuse. He never new his real parents.
Against tough odds, Kashif overcame the disadvantages in his childhood to become a force in the music industry, scoring several hits on the R&B charts as an artist and producing milestone albums by a long list of multimillion-selling artists, including Whitney Houston, Kenny G, Jermaine Jackson and Dionne Warwick.
In addition to producing Whitney Houston’s self-titled hit album in 1985, part of the formula that skyrocketed Houston’s to mega-stardom, Kashif wrote and played on Houston’s first hit, “You Give Good Love,” and follow-up hit, “Thinking About You.”
The list of artists Kashif has produced, written for or recorded with reads like a who’s who of R&B and adult contemporary — Evelyn Champagne King, Janet Jackson, Barry White, B.T. Express, Melba Moore, Al Jarreau, Lil’ Kim, Da Brat, Will Downing, Johnny Kemp, Glenn Jones, George Benson and others.
Kashif’s own second album as an artist, Send Me Your Love, received two Grammy nominations while his 1985 release, Condition of the Heart, yielded a Grammy nomination for “The Movie Song.”
Aspiring to be a modern-day Renaissance man, Kashif in recent years has balanced more charitable endeavors for foster children with his musical pursuits.
In addition to the two benefit concerts being organized this year, Kashif’s iCare Foundation will hold five-day Celebrity Sports & Entertainment Camps in the summer in nine cities across the country. At the camps, youths in foster care are instructed by celebrities and professionals in the disciplines of music, dance, acting and basketball. The kids also take life skills workshops via the camp. The purpose of the camp is to help the children increase positive experiences in their lives and to help them learn things that will be useful later in life.
An iCare clothing line will be released that includes casual and sports gear, with the aim of increasing self-esteem among foster children.
Three public service announcements, to help strip away the negative perception of foster care and foster children by showing celebrities and successful adults who grew up in foster care, will be produced and distributed, according to iCare Foundation. The public service announcements will be aired on television networks, the Internet, at sporting events and at participating churches throughout the country.
Kashif says he applauds celebrities, including Madonna, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who in recent years have adopted children from foreign countries. However, “that can send the wrong message to the local community,” says Kashif. “All we need to do is look in our own backyard.
“We don’t need to travel to Africa or to foreign countries to adopt. By the year 2020, if we do nothing to reverse current trends, nine million children in the United States will be in the foster care system,” Kashif says, citing statistics from Casey Family Programs, a foster care agency based in Seattle.
Statistics from the same agency show that 800,000 children pass through the foster care system each year, many of whom lack a nurturing, stable environment during the early years of life, according to iCare.
According to Casey Family Programs, African-American children are over four times as likely to be placed in out-of-home care than Caucasian children.
Information, (310) 827-1819 or www.celebritycamp.com