The diversity of Oakland’s music is all up in the news lately. Just take a look at these four stories which range from the symphony to hip-hop to an icon of Oakland’s 7th street past to an Oakland musician-turned-screenplay writer and filmmaker.

The Oakland East Bay Symphony routinely focuses on music from around the world from the Middle East to Southeast Asia and more. This March 27th, they will be performing Notes from Mexico, featuring pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner, composer/performer Diana Gameros and Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Carlos Moreno.

Boots Riley, known for his hip-hop career, published a screenplay with McSweeney’s last year. Now that screenplay has been made into a movie. In an interview with Vice, Boots Riley talks about his movie, Ferguson, gentrification in Oakland and more.

Hip-hop has been a strong force in highlighting social injustices in America, but sometimes there are themes in hip-hop that are less positive. Oakland-based organization HipHopForChange is trying to counter imagery glamorizing violence, materialism and drugs, as well as counter homophobia and sexism.

In the mid-20th century, Oakland’s 7th Street District was brimming with music. At that time, Oakland’s own Sugar Pie DeSanto was performing along with James Brown and Etta James. At 79, DeSanto is releasing a new album on her own label. KQED caught up with her recently to talk about her past and what we can look forward to from her in the future.

About The Author

Katie is the Music Editor at OL. She's a music geek, culture junkie, massive A's fan, and Oakland native. When she was six, she stood for five minutes with a felt pennant stuck under Chris Mullin’s armpit. Check out her Oakland music listings at, follow on twitter/instagram as @craziesthawk, or contact at

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