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VIDEO: Grammy winner Matt Alber, performing Monday in San Diego, to aid LGBT youth programs

SAN DIEGO -- Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Matt Alber will kick off his five-city tour in San Diego, and he will be helping out LGBT youth programs along the way.

Alber, who will perform at the Soda Bar in America’s Finest City on Monday, May 16, said he was kicked out of his own home when he was just 17 for being gay.

“I consider it a great privilege to make a living playing music and to wake up every morning feeling safe in a home full of food,” Alber said. “I recently became aware that thousands of LGBTQ teens are still homeless or barely on solid ground -- right here in America. I'm donating part of the ticket sales from my concerts because I want to make a start at making their lives better.”

Alber said he chose to benefit local LGBT youth organizations and programs because he realizes how serious the plight of many homeless LGBT youths can be. Alber will donate 15% of the proceeds from his kickoff show at the Soda Bar to the LGBT Youth Program at The Center in Hillcrest.

After San Diego, Alber will move on to Los Angeles on May 19, Chicago on May 25, San Francisco on June 3 and will close his tour in New York City on June 6.

In addition to The Center, he has partnered with the Los Angeles Youth Network, the UCAN LGBTQ Host Home Program in Chicago, the Hetrick Martin Institute in New York and Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco.

“When I remember how unsafe I felt in the world as a gay teen, it reminds me to care about young gay people today,” Alber said. “The programs these concerts are benefitting directly provide safe spaces for queer and questioning youth. They are local organizations who have tremendous success but few resources. They really need our help to make young gay people's lives better today.”

A long road

Alber said he first knew he wanted to be a singer when he was just 9. On a field trip to Tokyo, Japan, with his choir group, Alber said he really discovered a love of singing.

“I spent my summer climbing Mt. Fuji with my friends and teaching Japanese choir-geeks like me how to break-dance,” Alber said. “I was hooked.”

But his life was changed when he was kicked out his parent’s house at age 17 because he was gay. Alber said it was one of the scariest moments of his life when his mother found out he was dating a dude.

“I was secretly dating a guy and when my mom found out she couldn't deal,” Alber said. “I remember her tossing my schoolbooks out onto the lawn and feeling like everything was moving in slow motion. It was a really scary day, but it also taught me that nothing is the end of the world and that life will catch you wherever you land.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Even through his trials growing up and the risk of quitting his day job to pursue his singing dreams, Matt has written many songs that inspire his listeners and ended up on top.

His video, “End of the World,” won an Out Music Award and he has recorded two Grammy-winning albums with Chanticleer, a classic ensemble. And he can proudly say that he’s happy with his life.

“I get to sing and write songs for a living and at the end of the day I lay my head in a soft, warm bed next to the man I love,” Alber said.

Giving back to the LGBT community

Alber said although he’s in a happy and comfortable place in his life now, he remembers a time as an LGBT youth when he wasn’t quite so at ease. His trials inspired him to give back to LGBT youth programs and organizations that will help those who are in difficult places in their lives.

“When I remember how unsafe I felt in the world as a gay teen, it reminds me to care about young gay people today,” Alber said. “The programs these concerts are benefitting directly provide safe spaces for queer and questioning youth. They are local organizations who have tremendous success but few resources. They really need our help to make young gay people's lives better today.”

The LGBT youth programs at The Center perfectly fit Alber’s description. In addition to providing a variety of youth groups, the Youth Center, the only drop-in recreation center for LGBT youths in San Diego County, provides computer access, health education, discussion groups and performing arts programs. The Youth Center is committed to providing a safe and supportive place for LGBT youths, even those from outside the county.

The Center also offers a Youth Housing Project program that provides 23 units of safe, affordable housing for 18- to 24-year-olds with a focus on LGBT youth. This program helped take many LGBT youths who had been kicked out of their homes, off the streets and into supportive housing. According to The Center’s website, this project was made possible by the Rev. Tony Freeman, Dr. Heather Berberet, then-San Diego City Councilmember Toni Atkins, Jennifer LeSar, The Center and its project collaborators -- YMCA Youth and Family Services, San Diego Youth and Community Services, Metropolitan Community Church, Walden Family Services and the Chadwick Center at Children’s Hospital.

Alber said he is glad to be able to help support LGBT youths and the programs that support them, but has many ideas to further help.

“Giving back part of my ticket sales is good beginning, but I'm working on a songwriting project where I sit with young gay youth and we write a song together,” Alber said. “Their stories have a lot to teach the rest of us. Plus, if we arm our young ones with stability, love and encouragement ‘the gay community’ might start to get a reputation for it.”

The details

Tickets for the shows and more information can be found HERE or at on Facebook.

Alber’s San Diego tour kick-off will be held at 9 pm Monday, May 16, at Soda Bar and Lounge, 3615 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego 92104.