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This World Spotlight was created on Oct 30, 2017 @ 06:36:50 pm

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Music Social Justice Disco

"Social Justice Disco" is a new collaboration between Liz Berlin, founding member of Rusted Root & one of Pittsburgh's favorite jazz divas, Phat Man Dee! This collection of dance music celebrates a message of justice to a groove. Songs include new originals “Water Is Sacred/ Mni Wiconi”, "Jim Crow is Alive and Well", "Fourth Reich Arising" "#BigBrotherIsTrending" and reimagined covers like “I Can’t Breathe” "Your Racist Friend", "All You Fascists" & "Have You Been to Jail for Justice". We are all one people & we sing for justice!

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images by Danielle Robinson

Social Justice Disco by Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin!


Don't miss the World Premiere Debut of "Shine the Light with Social Justice Disco with Liz Berlin and Phat Man Dee" stage show at the Katz Theater at JCC Pittsburgh on Thursday December 14! #HumpDayOfHannukah #MusicForMensches

A musical collaboration with special guests:

Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale

Ezra Smith - poet

Christina Springer- poet

Johnny Creed Coe - Native American singer

SunBear Coe - Native American singer

Miguel Sague Jr. - Taino shaman

Big Jus - rapper

Presented by the JCC’s American Jewish Museum and Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Katz Theater • 5738 Darlington Road • Ages 13+ • Cash bar

Tickets: $10; $25 includes Meet-n-Greet at 6:30 PM with the artists

To purchase tickets:



Liz Berlin (of Rusted Root) and Phat Man Dee (voted Best Jazz/ Blues Performer in Pittsburgh City paper 2016 Readers’ Poll) are thrilled to announce their first collaborative recording project, “Social Justice Disco: Songs to Fight Fascists By”. Members of the band currently include Mark F. Strickland (guitar), Carlos Peña (guitar), Mike Speranzo (bass), Miguel Sague III (congas / güiro / back up vox), Megan Williams (violin), and Jeremy Papay (drums), Howard Alexander (piano), Miguel Sague III (percussion), Megan Williams (violin), Geña Musica, Christiane Dolores, Katie Berlin (backing vocals) with special guests like Pastor Deryck Tines (choral director and vocalist) with The Lemington Gospel Chorale, Christina Springer (poet), Leslie Ezra Smith (poet), Nicole Meyers (cello), SunBear Coe, Johnny Coe, Arlynna Evans and Reggie Watkins, JD Chaisson and Rick Matt of the Steel Town Horns.


The Impact

We as musical artists, are making the statement that it's not ok to hate, that systemic and institutionalized racism is not ok, misogyny and homophobia is not ok, religious intolerance and open hatred of Muslims or Jews or Indigenous people or ANYONE’s RELIGION (or lack thereof) is not ok, war for profits is not ok, destroying the environment because of our fossil fuel addiction is not ok, making flying robots that kill people is also not ok!!!
We are promoting a message of love, tolerance, and we are not going to be silent on matters of importance any more. Well, we have not ever really ever been silent, but we are REALLY not silent if we make a CD you can dance to!!!


This is a CD that not only showcases the talents of the musicians involved, but also has a message.

Our message is that we are NOT OK with the way things have been, and we are not afraid to say so. We are capable people who can make the world a better place while we are here on earth. Our songs will be heard first by you, our friends, family and fans, and then they will spread, and the sonic vibrations of change will act on the world. We are not the only ones adding to the global choir of change, but we want our part to be heard and for others to know who we are and what we stand for.

Disco dancing to songs which DEMAND justice, we will get bodies moving and encourage other voices singing along, like prayer. We are singing and chanting for change. Please sing and dance with us! There are a lot of people in the world who need to know that we don't like the way things are being done and your support will show that you care to also make a stand.




Hello friends!!! Thank for reading this far about our project!!! I just want to give you a little background about how this even came to be…. Liz and I have been friends for over 20 years.

I recorded my very first first cd "Life Just Goes On" in 2001 at Mr. Smalls Recording Studio’s first location in Millvale, before Liz and her husband Mike bought the church and turned it into Mr. Smalls Theatre, a state of the art venue that is a destination for many top tier touring musicians. I have also recorded my most recent full length CD and part of my EP at the new Mr. Smalls Recording and Mastering Studio, located in the Northside. I completed my video internship with Creative.Life.Support at Mr Smalls Theater in 2014. Since then I have worked with Liz at "We Rock Workshop", a program she designed with Allegheny County Department of Human Services, to help young aspiring artists in foster care compose their own songs, record a cd and perform them live in front of an audience, both at Mr. Smalls Theater and at some conferences around the state.

The first time I ever heard "protest music" live and in person, was when local peace activist Vincent Eirene was protesting the development of "autonomous flying vehicles" outside of Wean Hall at Carnegie Mellon university. We know these devices today as drones, and they do, as he feared, drop bombs on people. The protest music was provided by Liz Berlin and her band Rusted Root. Their message of love, peace and tolerance was one which really struck home for me. It was amazing to me that you could sing out against the war, against intolerance, against destruction of the environment. That you could actually sing for peace, understanding and have a deeper message was just so inspiring for me.

I feel like both of us are extremely committed to justice work through art and activism. Liz’s work with youth through the We Rock Workshop and the Real Life Music Camp has given me the confidence and empowerment to reach out to and share my knowledge with the next generation. This album is a culmination of 25 years of friendship, professional collaboration, mentorship and shared belief in a world where we can fight for justice, promote love and peace, and help defeat fascism through dance tunes.

One love, for we are one people,

Phat Man Dee



My first memory of Phat Man Dee was wayyyy back in the early days when Rusted Root used to rent out warehouses and throw renegade concert pot-lucks that generated an under the radar cult following. When the frenzy of the night was over, when most people had left and we were cleaning up the space and tearing down equipment I heard a deep and compelling voice bust out an a cappella rendition of "Wade In The Water". This little girl had a voice that was grounded in the earth and the soul pouring out of her mouth just filled the room. Since then I have witnessed her become the powerhouse musician I knew she was destined to be, having made a name and quite a reputation for herself not just in Pittsburgh but internationally as a circus jazz chanteuse on a mission. I am extremely honored to be working with Phat Man Dee on this project. I have greatly admired her passion, caring, and humanity in speaking up for and taking action for causes that resonate deeply with me, and I feel there is no better partner for me in this endeavor.

Taking a stand on these issues is not always easy, there are a multitude of perspectives and details surrounding every issue, and it is impossible to address every aspect of every situation. But we each have to look into ourselves and address inherent biases and whatever privileges we enjoy as Americans in whatever life situations we are blessed with. There are certain things that we know are just wrong, that cross lines humanity should never cross. We know there will be lovers, haters, devils-advocates and mountain-top-shouters. Our biggest hope is that our music will lead everyone to look deeply into their hearts to be the best person they can be, and treat others, regardless of personal, racial, gender, religious, sexual or political differences, with all of the respect each human on the planet deserves. Grounded in this intent, we dedicate our art to the betterment of society and the raising of the consciousness of humanity into the beautiful, happy, healthy beings we are meant to be.

In service, Liz Berlin


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