Draven McGill, 17, was the beloved son of Dublin residents Tammy and Phil McGill. But he left behind more than one family when he died in the Ghost Ship fire in Oakland -- he was also a student at San Francisco’s Ruth Asawa School of the Arts (SOTA).
“This was his family,” said the school’s Director of Vocal Arts Kristen Grzeca at a recent memorial concert for McGill, one of 20 vocal students in the junior class.
Grzeca spoke to me and a few television reporters before the concert. But she kept choking up mid-sentence, overwhelmed by her emotions. “I’m sorry,” she said to the TV cameras, “I hope you can edit this out."
After a long pause, Grzeca regained her composure and continued. “I’ll always remember him for his humor and his authenticity,” she said. “He was a huge fan of electronic dance music. He was a huge fan of hip-hop, and he was also a classically trained singer, but those worlds weren’t separate for him.”
The memorial concert made that clear. It featured songs that were some of McGill’s favorites, choral works and two movements from Brahms' German Requiem, about the “joy that comes after terrible grief,” Grzeca said.