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The Studio Sisters Are Taking The Stage!

A couple of months ago, we had the pleasure of meeting a young aspiring artist by the name of Tyree. She was brought into the studio by her mother who had heard about our program and wanted her daughter to experience what we do here. Like many, Tyree was very shy and spoke little words without the assistance of her Mom and/or younger sister. I had seen this similar situation so many times that I was totally confident with assuring her Mom that Tyree would get comfortable in the studio and would eventually loosen up.  After about 2 or 3 sessions of just getting to know her and talking about her goals as a young artist, we recorded her first song titled “Moving To New York.” She must’ve really enjoyed the experience because after that recording, I would see Tyree in the studio at least 3 times a week. I began to notice her comfort level rising tremendously.

As the weeks went on, we continued working on new songs and getting them recorded. Often times, other youth artists would visit the studio to work on their material and would offer Tyree pointers and assist in helping her craft her music. She would see them in the jam room rehearsing for their upcoming shows and that inspired her to want to take the stage as well. Her passion and dedication motivated me to get her ready to perform outside of the studio walls so we began working on other areas of her artistry. I told her she needed to come up with a stage name for branding. The next day she comes in with a princess crown on her head and says, “My new name is Royal Ree.” I thought that was super awesome! Now it was time to get her comfortable on stage.

One of our rising stars, Rika Shambae, has recently become a frequent performer at various venues. She, just like Royal Ree, was very shy at first and even during her first show, she almost let her nerves get the best of her. We rehearsed together in the studio several times to the point that she appeared to be a natural performer during her later showcases. I thought, there’s no better person to help Royal Ree get ready for her upcoming showcase this Saturday, than Rika Shambae. The great thing about the studio here, is that all of the youth treat each other like family. There’s never competition amongst them and they’re always ready to help out their fellow artists, whether it be collaborating on a song, helping with lyrics, or offering stage tips.

As Royal Ree was running through her set list, Rika was right there to guide her. It really was special to see the chemistry they had. They really looked like sisters. After the rehearsal, we took a few minutes to do a fun photo shoot. Here are some of the shots from it!

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Also, Click play to hear Royal Ree’s latest song, “Rockstar”!

Veterans Of Service

Being a Military Veteran myself, I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for those who have served our Country. Even though there’s a dedicated day to Veterans filled with many Thanks for their service, I feel that sometimes that’s just not enough. Recently, I met a gentleman by the name of L.A. Tisdale who is also a Military Veteran. He spent 13 years in the United States Army and was honorably discharged in 1988. After he got out, he went on to work as a Corrections Officer and now he’s currently employed with the United States Postal Service. But that’s not what makes Mr. L.A. really stand out.

L.A. has been writing songs for the last 20 plus years but didn’t start taking it seriously until 2010. With him being a little older now, his dreams of being the person in front of the cameras has diminished, but his dreams to have his work heard and recognized is still very much alive. L.A. frequently visits the Austin N4N studio to share his work with me and the youth, so we decided to take one of his songs and bring it to life.

Rika Shambae is one of our rising stars and a very dynamic Hip Hop and R&B Artist. In the few months she’s been a N4N member, she has managed to write countless pages of lyrics, recorded over 12 songs, and even performed at a few shows around the city. She looked through some of his lyrics and found a song she liked in particular. The song was titled “Love No More”. We asked L.A. if he’d be ok with us using his lyrics to record the song and he replied with, “I’d be honored.”

We immediately began working on the music, fine tuning the lyrics, and within a few hours, we had the song fully recorded and produced and ready for release. Again, Rika certainly has no issues creating her own content but we figured this would be an awesome collaboration between the youth and the more matured, and if nothing else, it would certainly bring a smile to several faces. And that’s exactly what it did!

(L.A. Tisdale & Ray Price)                                            (Rika Shambae)

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Click play to hear “Love No More”!

Little Voices, Big Pumpkin!

When working with big groups of youth in a music studio, it can be a challenge to create tangible content in which the majority of them can contribute to.  The beauty of that scenario is that it forces you and them to think outside of the box to find ways for all of them to be involved.

Since this is the month of Halloween, we thought it’d be awesome to create an audiobook of a Halloween story in which some of our youth, ranging from ages 5-9, would be able to act out different characters and record their voices in the studio. They wanted to do the story “Big Pumpkin”, so we printed the script and began assigning parts and rehearsing. After a couple of days of practicing, they had gotten comfortable with their characters and were ready to record.

The recording process was a lot of fun. They did an amazing job bringing each character to life with personality, voice tonality, and even their own sound effects, which left me with little work to do after the recordings were done. After editing and piecing it all together, I composed some Halloween themed music to accompany their dialogue. The end result turned out better than we expected and the smiles on their faces as they listened to the finished product literally warmed my heart.

Happy Halloween!

Click play to hear “Big Pumpkin”!

The Making Of “Birth Of A Legend”

Collaborations amongst artists and studios are always exciting. The ideas that spawn from multiple minds, often times generate higher levels of creativity that may not be present in a solo project.

An example of a great cross collaboration would be one in which multiple N4N studios came together to create a song for the Les Paul Foundation, titled “Birth Of A Legend.”

Area Directors TJ and Crystal from our California Studios, did an amazing job sampling and putting together a catchy, feel good instrumental which totally embodies that warm vintage sound Les Paul guitars are known for.

The music made its way to the Austin studio in which one of our youth rappers, Danger Zone, laid down some lyrics that really captured the history of Les Paul the man and history behind the ever so famous guitars named after him.

I could go on and on writing about the whole process of its creation, which was amazing to be a part of to say the least, however, it may be best for you to just give a listen to the Podcast below which will do a much better job at that.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider Becomes A Dance Hit!

Here at the Austin N4N Studio, we’re all about pushing the boundaries and embracing the creativity from our members. About a month ago, we created a new age Hip Hop version of the classic nursery rhyme, “Baa Baa Black Sheep”. The process of creation was a lot of fun and youth from all ages decided to be apart of it. We decided to continue on that path, taking well known nursery rhymes and putting a modern day, rhythmic approach to it.

That led us to our second remake, which is the ever so famous, “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”. We recorded groups of youth singing the song acapella, and mixed that down into one vocal track. From there, we used that vocal track as a sample to chop up pieces of the lyrics and accompanied that with an original beat. Once the song was completed, we had several youth wanting to participate in a dance video. The result…. an infectious dance music video with tons of smiling faces and amazing vibes.

Check it out!

9 Year Old Drummer Destined For Greatness!

A couple of months after we officially launched the Austin N4N Studio, I had the pleasure of meeting a young man named Bryce, who told me he had an interest in wanting to play drums. He was only 8 years old at this time but he seemed totally sure of what he wanted to do in regards to his musical development. We decided to meet for an hour, once a week, for a one on one drum lesson, in which he hasn’t missed an appointment thus far. In the beginning, as you may assume, we spent a great deal of focus on the fundamentals of playing drums, but I could easily tell he was ready to start working on patterns and combinations after the first two sessions. In fact, he was so dedicated, his parents bought him a drum set so he could continue practicing in between his lessons. This made his progression move at a rapid pace which made our sessions a lot more complex. Within a couple of months, Bryce was providing drum beats for other musicians and vocalists that would come to the studio to work on their material.

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It’s an amazing feeling to witness the development of the young artists and musicians that have chosen our studio as their musical home. Bryce has this passion in his eyes, almost as if he sees himself as a world class drummer years down the line. After every jam session, he ends his beat as if he were playing for 10,000 people. It’s truly inspiring to see and I know he’s destined for greatness! Check out this little jam session Bryce and I had the other day.

 

Alex G Records First Singer/Songwriter Jam For Austin’s Studio!

I’m headed to the water fountains located at the opposite side of the studio entrance, across the basketball courts in the Doris Miller Auditorium. I notice an unfamiliar face sitting alone on the bleachers watching the other kids play a game of 3 on 3. He looked to be around 16 or 17 years old and there’s a guitar propped up against the bleachers right next to where he’s sitting. Judging by his attire, he wasn’t waiting to play basketball and the fact that there was a guitar next to him told me that he probably had an interest in music.

I approached him and introduced myself, and asked him his name. After telling me his name was Alex, I asked what he was doing sitting out there by himself and had he heard about or seen the N4N studio. He looked at me with surprising eyes when I said the word “studio” which led me to believe he had no clue we existed. I invited him to come in for a tour and he was immediately hooked! Alex started coming in frequently after that interaction and every time he was in the studio, he was always working on his guitar playing and singing. He informed me that he had never written a full song or had the opportunity to record any of the music he enjoyed playing. It was certainly time to change that.

He came in one day, with a page full of lyrics and an original guitar riff he had been working on. He shared it with me and we quickly jumped right into tweaking it and getting it ready to be recorded. After little practice and rehearsal, it was ready to go and he, for the first time, stepped inside the booth and laid down his first song! Both the lyrics and guitar melodies were written and performed by him and it’s a song that has that “homestyle” feel that grows on you the first time you hear it.

Click play to hear Alex’s song, “KAYA”!

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N4N Studio Becomes Hub For Austin Private School’s Music Program!

A couple of months back, I met a young man by the name of Tumelo. He was interning at the Austin City Music Office and they had come by the N4N studio for a tour. He looked much younger than the rest of the representatives from the Music Office but you could tell that he was passionate about the music industry and was ready to learn all he could about it. After the tour was over, he pulled me to the side, told me how much he loved the studio, and asked if it was possible for him to intern with me in the future. I was impressed with his initiative and before I gave him an answer, I asked him how old he was. I was shocked to hear that he was only 16 years old!

We arranged for him to come back to the studio so we could talk more about potential opportunities for him, and within a few days after that meeting, he had become one of my star studio assistants. Just recently, he informs me of a Private School here in Austin in which he attends called KO School. (https://koschool.com) The school takes on a modern approach for teaching its students and offers state of the art technology as tools to help them in areas such as personal development, autodidacticism, and authentic leadership. The school has only been around for 3 years so music education has yet to be implemented in their curriculum. It takes a strong, dedicated, and focused mind such as Tumelo’s to ensure that music is an active part of not only his, but his peer’s lives as well.

Tumelo reached out to me to discuss possible solutions for creating a music program for the students at his school who otherwise wouldn’t get the experience. He mentioned that the school didn’t have the resources to make it happen so it would be solely up to him to do so. Together, we developed a plan and just this past Tuesday, he comes to the studio with a big handful of youth ranging from ages 14-16 ready to dive into the world of music. Again, the majority of the kids there never had experience with actual music lessons and some never touched an instrument. All of their eyes were as big as globes upon walking through the door of the studio.

Day one was primarily a familiarity session as we explained all that we could offer and assist them with. A small jam session took place to shake off some of the nerves and to build the chemistry amongst everyone. They all left with huge smiles on their faces and expressed their appreciation and excitement to return. The wait for their return wasn’t long as they showed up, doubled in numbers, on Thursday that same week. This time, they were ready to make music! We utilized the jam room and opened the floor to an improv jam session that lasted for a little over an hour. It was made very apparent after that, that this group of youth would be regulars at the studio and we’re all excited about what the future holds for them!

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(Tumelo is the one playing drums.)

Hip Hop Architecture In Austin

We had some very special guests recently visit our Austin Studio. They are a young group of individuals who participate in a week long camp led by Michael Ford called Hip Hop Architecture. The camp came about because from Mr. Ford’s perspective, Hip Hop and architecture go hand in hand. His reasoning for this paralleled comparison is that the origins of Hip Hop started with gatherings of people in outdoor common areas due to the lack of architecture to accommodate the masses looking for something to do as a community.

The Hip Hop Architecture camps are held in just about all the major cities in the nation and we were fortunate enough to have the youth from the Austin camp visit our N4N studio to record their song “Push, Slide, Pause.” The ages ranged from 8 – 16 and I was amazed at how well prepared they were to come in and get right to recording. Their rhymes, delivery, and conviction were all on point which made the recording process a breeze.

After the recording, they shot a music video to the song produced in our studio which can be seen below. Another great experience at the studio with a remarkable group of youth!

The Future Of Nursery Rhymes

Growing up, I think it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us have heard and maybe even sang along to a nursery rhyme at some point. The most classic nursery rhymes, often times aren’t accompanied by any musical instrumentation, leaving the vocal of the song responsible for carrying the melody. Yet somehow, we still seem to grow with these and love them as they become very common in our upbringing whether it be through, school, home, TV or internet. But, what happens when a nursery rhyme is accompanied by an original, modern sounding piece of music and created in such a way that causes people to dance and sometimes forget that they’re even listening to a nursery rhyme?

8 year old Lucy (Left) & Hezekenia (Right) recorded an acapella of the very familiar song, “Baa Baa Black Sheep” at the Austin N4N Studio. During the process, we told them of what the production plan was for the finished product but I’m certain they still had no idea. After sampling their voices and creating a modern day, Hip Hop style beat to accompany it, we ended up with a song that has already proven to be popular on the dance floor, with segments that will stay in your head all day.

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Check out the making of “Baa Baa Black Sheep” (Remix)!

Press Play to hear the full song!