Local poet, songwriter celebrates Holidays in Oakland through song

December 25, 2013 6:21 pm

Photo from YouTube video "Holidays in Oakland"

A singer who describes herself as a jazz, soul, spoken word artist is catching the attention of some Oakland city leaders with a video for the original song, “Holiday in Oakland.”

The lyrics, which start with “let’s take a holiday in Oakland,” might sound like perfect marketing for the city, but Lisa Bernstein, known as Lisa B, says the words are straight from the heart.

“Let’s take a walk around the lake, with the runners and the lovers, the kids of every color holding hands,” said Berstein, quoting the song which she co-wrote and recorded with producer Jim Gardiner at his studios in Jack London Square.

Berstein, a poet and Oakland resident for more than 20 years, posted a homemade video of Holiday in Oakland on Monday, featuring still photos from around the city.

“I love this city, it’s a great place and it needs celebrating,” said Bernstein.

KTVU played the video for people spending time near Lake Merritt on Christmas Day.  The song struck a chord with elementary school teacher, Marisa Villegas.

“I would love to show it to my students so they can see some really wonderful things come out of Oakland.  I think it would be inspiring for them,” said Villegas.

The spirit of the song provides a contrast to the frequent stories of violence and poverty in Oakland, but Bernstein says the goal is not to cover up the challenges the city faces.

“Oakland is a gritty place and that’s real, but all the more reason to continue to celebrate and to work together,” said Bernstein.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan recently posted a link to the song and video on her Twitter account.  Bernstein says she appreciates the attention, but isn’t counting on big sales.  She has also worked as a writer and a poetry instructor at San Francisco State.

>Watch the YouTube video, Holidays in Oakland