Local charity makes music, brings attention to state's hungry

Sherree Chamberlain wowed crowds at April's Norman Music Festival with rich and alluring vocals tinged with the pastoral soulfulness of her Stillwater home. Although she had had just migrated to the metro a year prior, her festival set perked a lot of new ears.

In July, the rootsy folksinger released her long-awaited album, "The Wasp in the Room," at Tulsa's massive Dfest, then quit her teaching gig to focus full-time on her blossoming music career.

For fans mainlining the MP3s on Chamberlain's MySpace page, but still dragging their heels on catching her live, Natalie Wright hopes philanthropy might lure out listeners. As marketing coordinator of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, Wright tapped Chamberlain for an event aimed directly at the online community and an invitation into the organization's Oklahoma City facility.

Wright said that the food bank is the largest hunger relief charity in the state, collecting donations from the food industry and community, and then disseminating the goods to more than 450 agencies, such as food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens.

September is Hunger Action Month, and Thursday's TweetUp targets social networking sites, which Wright sees as a powerful tool for the Food Bank.

"Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have allowed the Regional Food Bank to reach a new audience," she said. "As a part of Hunger Action Month activities, we wanted to provide an opportunity for our online friends to come out and show their support for the cause. Café Evoke will be providing coffee, Sherree will play some songs, and guests will get a chance to learn more about the Regional Food Bank."

Colourmusic, Crocodile, The Non, Eutopian Accident and The Flaming Lips also have contributed to the event by donating copies of their latest albums, which audiences can sign up to win. Wright said Chamberlain was an obvious choice to play.

"Sherree is among a group of community leaders who are lending their voices to the fight against hunger in the state by joining the (Food Bank) Celebrity Council," she said. "She really connects with the Regional Food Bank's mission and has a real love for Oklahoma. This is her way of giving back and spreading the word about this very serious issue."

Chamberlain said her solo show at the Food Bank will be lower-key than her festival performances in Norman and Tulsa, but admitted that her music needs to be secondary to spreading the word on the Food Bank's mission.

"Before I went up to the Food Bank, I wasn't aware of the hunger problem here in this city and Oklahoma in general," she said. "There are a lot of surprising elements to the Food Bank that people need to see, and hopefully, events like these will help generate a buzz in the area about what the Food Bank is doing."

Hunger Action Month TweetUp with Sherree Chamberlain begins at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Regional Food Bank, 3355 S. Purdue. "Charles Martin