On Nov. 2, Nashville Peacemakers successfully completed an eight-week pilot of its Off the Street Make a Beat program being championed by Lonnell Matthews in the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement. Participants Mychael Fennessee, Dawon Funtez Smith, Shakiria Holbert and Nasean Clayborne worked at a newly furnished, on-site recording studio, and an off-site recording studio at Rocketown, to create a music track to call their own. Along the way, they received classroom training on what it means to be an artist, developing a stage presence, engaging an audience, and the purpose and complexities of music contracts. They also took a walking tour of the TSU Performing Arts Center, courtesy of music business professor Dr. Mark Crawford.
A big thank you to the volunteers making the pilot possible: program facilitators Thomas Fennessee and Nathan Clayborne, who also helped build the on-site recording studio; musician Herschel Lamont, for his creative assistance; Dewey Boyd, for his help with curriculum development and assembling the studio equipment; Kacy Kincaid, for leading the kickoff session focused on creativity; Deborah Borfitz, who served as board liaison and coordinator-in-chief; videographer/photographer Wil Jones, who filmed the weekly sessions; and Thalia “Muziqueen” Ewing, who taught the kids some music business basics.
Also, a big shout-out to Sam's Club (1300 Antioch Pike) that made a $500 gift to the program through the Wal-Mart Community Grant Program. The money was used to purchase studio monitors, stands, audio cables and headphones for the recording studio housed in Nashville Peacemakers' programming space in North Nashville. All other needed items were obtained thanks to the generosity of donors.
Off the Street Make a Beat is expected to formally launch in 2018 as a 16-week, grant-funded program with 10 competitively selected participants (5 girls, 5 boys) ages 12-14. Graduates of the pilot will be serving as peer mentors. Watch for details in upcoming editions of this newsletter.