Black Gold Road – A Black History Project

From Detroit to New Orleans, each city in our team’s region offers something integral to American music by way of their artists, sounds, genres, record labels and history at large. Not only were Black artists in Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans creating world changing music during some of Black America’s most troubling times, they were also responsible for the creation of distinguished and acclaimed genres and musical movements that gave the outside world a glimpse into the beauty of the Black experience, and gave our inside world hope, joy and strength to carry on.

BLACKGOLDROADCOVERIn honor of Black History Month and the contributions that Black artists from each of our cities made to American music, we present:


A collection of songs and sounds that go down the road of some of the most essential cities to Black music and explore the history, impact and beauty of music inspired by our home towns of New Orleans, Memphis, Nashville, Chicago and Detroit.

*Scroll to the bottom of post for Soundcloud playlist of Black Gold Road*



“What’s Going On” is one of Marvin Gaye’s biggest hits.  Marvin Gaye was one of the original artists of Berry Gordy’s Motown– which was founded in Detroit, Michigan in 1959 after droves of Blacks migrated to Detroit for job opportunities in the automobile industry- giving Detroit the largest population of Blacks in the country. Motown became first Black-owned record label to reach widespread acclaim- achieving more than 180 hit records worldwide and launching global artists like Stevie Wonder, Diana Ross, The Temptations and Michael Jackson. Because of Motown’s unifying impact on such a segregated country, Detroit is said to have created “The Sound That Changed America.” “What’s Going On” was the perfect song to remake right now considering the division in our country and recent school shooting in Florida. Every youth that participated in the creation of this track enjoyed it thoroughly. We hope it lifts your spirit like it did ours.


howlin-wolf-1Chicago Blues was born following the great migration of African Americans from the southern US to the industrial cities of the North. This population included working class people and musicians as well. The specific Blues style found in Chicago evolved from street musicians who played dense areas for tips and to mingle with fellow musicians. This track, produced at the Notes For Notes Chicago studio, reflects characteristics of modern South Side Chicago Hip- Hop. It includes Drill, a subgenre of Trap music whose gritty and realistic undertones hold threads to the classic Chicago Blues sound. Not only is the sound of old school Chicago deeply ingrained in the new generation of music, but also its attitudes and spirit of humility and hardwork. “Chicago Blue Soul” includes samples of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Shake For Me,” an excerpt from a 1966 interview with Howlin Wolf, and Gene Chandler’s “A Song Called Soul.” These artists recorded with Chicago record labels Chess Records and Constellation Records,  which specialized in Rhythm and Blues.


cliffordExecutively produced by youth producer, IV, “The Dream” is your Trap cliff notes to your annual Black History Month lesson. Featuring rappers Lil Spittii and Eric, the track features a Clifford Curry sample of his song “Ain’t No Danger.”  Curry was a notable R&B and Soul musician active in the Nashville music scene from the late 50s up to the late 90s. The Nashville Scene called him Nashville’s R&B Hero. Nashville’s historic Jefferson Street, which connects its two Historically Black Colleges Tennessee State University and Fisk University (and ironically connects our two N4N studios in North Nashville), was a haven for Jazz and Blues music. During the 50s and 60s, you could find a Jazz or Blues club on every corner of Jefferson Street. Artists like Etta James, Jimi Hendrix and Hank Crawford spent some of the earliest years of their careers developing their sound, creating, and performing right here in Nashville, Tennessee. This fresh take on a historic track is the perfect soundtrack for highlighting the amazing accomplishments of Black Americans past and present.


R-4636022-1370633199-6246.jpegMemphis is home to the legendary Beale Street and has also been deemed “Home of the Blues.” By the 1900s, Beale Street was filled with clubs –many of which were owned by Blacks– where you could hear Blues music being performed by some of America’s most noted musicians such as B.B. King, Howlin Wolf, and W.C Handy. The Blues was created on southern plantations as slaves, ex-slaves and sharecroppers sang about their sorrows. Blues influenced musicians worldwide and certainly made its mark on Memphis artists like Isaac Hayes. “Wild Flower” samples the Memphis/Stax Records legendary artist Isaac Hayes and his hit record “Walk on By.” The beat was created by our New Orleans program director (Thanks Justen!) and many of the lyrics are inspired by the movie Black Panther, which debuted in theaters last weekend. The lyrics are also inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and significant historical events of the movement that took place in Memphis such as the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ Strike, Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, and the great leader’s assassination at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel in 1968.



Marching bands and Second Lines made up of predominantly brass instruments and driven by robust horn sections are a huge part of New Orleans’ culture and the Black population’s contribution to it. From high school and college events to parades during Mardi Gras season, marching bands can always be heard –filling the air with the essence of New Orleans culture. New Orleans is considered to be the birthplace of Jazz music and the city’s musical legacy is recognized worldwide. African influence on the city’s music traces back to Congo Square, where slaves would congregate to play music on Sundays. In “Any Means Necessary,” one of New Orleans most elite marching bands, St. Augustine High School marching band, was sampled and paired with Hip-Hop beat made by Prosper Jones. Youth artist Lance is also featured in true New Orleans fashion, expounding on his connection to Malcolm X’s approach to achieving equality. 



2017: A Flagship Year!

The best elevator pitch for Notes for Notes always ends up being some version of “We build, equip and staff after school recording studios for youth…” Ostensibly the most important piece of that sentence, and incidentally the thing that sets us apart form other after school music programs, is the BUILDING of our incredible spaces.

This year we were able to round out our fleet to 20 STUDIOS NATIONWIDE!!! This number has always existed as a bit of a milestone and it felt great to accomplish it this year!

The build team started off strong in Austin, breaking out our new mobile build kits, outfitted in newly sponsored RYOBI gear!


Austin became one of our first generation of Craftsman studios, paying special attention to detailing on custom stages, and custom diffuser panels!

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On the famous “Chitlin Circuit”, The Doris Miller Auditorium is a special space that now not only holds music history, but a space for future generations to create music as well.

austin track

Next up was a renovation in our Mar Vista studio where we were able to get creative in how to pack a big punch in this space!

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Halfway thru the year, we hit our favorite month of June! This year our activation at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival was the belle of the ball!


Working with our partner Jeremy at Wind River Tiny Homes, we were able to activate a fully operational recording studio INSIDE a tiny home at Bonnaroo! There we invited artists to feature on youth produced tracks to create a special experience for everyone involved…


Jon Batiste tickles the pearly whites at Bonnaroo!


San Holo production master class!

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Notes for Notes youth rehearse for the big gig!

Meanwhile back at home base in Nashville, the build team was feverishly working on getting our Flagship studio online and operational…while construction was underway, we found time to give our two existing Nashville studios a facelift, bringing them up to date with our latest tech, gear and aesthetic elements.

In November, we were proud to announce the opening of our Flagship East Nashville Studio, with help from our friend Lindsay Ell!

Lindsay Ell jams with 18-year-old guitarist Stephen Dashiff at the opening of a new Notes for Notes studio, supported by CMA Foundation, in the Cleveland Park neighboorhood of East Nashville on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017.

Lindsay Ell jams with 18-year-old guitarist Stephen Dashiff at the opening of a new Notes for Notes studio, supported by CMA Foundation, in the Cleveland Park neighboorhood of East Nashville.


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Lindsay gives us the honorary first strum!!!

Through a generous gear donation from the Rubber Tracks Studio in Brooklyn NY, we were able to outfit our flagship studio with top of the line professional gear, our most robust workflow ever, including an API 1608 Console!


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To round out the year at the magic number 20, the team found itself inside the James Jordan Boys and Girls Club in Chicago, Illinois. Steeped in Bulls tradition, and bustling with youth energy, this studio is a special milestone for the team!


2017 was a great year for the Notes for Notes build team! We were able to build some great studios in some exciting new cities and revamp existing studios in others. On the horizon we look forward to an exciting 4 new studios in New York city next year! Seattle, San Francisco and Denver are in the works as well! Here’s to an equally exciting 2018, Happy New Year!



N4N Blogs: There is a story everyday…

Take a look inside the studios with our weekly studio blogs written by those witnessing it all. Every N4N Studio has a micro site on featuring, amongst many resources, a weekly studio blog showcasing the stories, music, pictures and video of the studio happenings. Check it out and subscribe to the studio of your choice or better yet, all of them!

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Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival to feature tasting, music

Published in Lompoc Record on October 3, 2017

A polo event featuring wine tasting and live music from acclaimed performers will be held at the Santa Barbara Polo & Racquet Club Saturday, Oct. 7.

The Santa Barbara Polo & Wine Festival will feature two polo matches and tastings from several Santa Barbara County wineries.

Tickets for the festival are on sale now; $1 of every ticket sold will be donated to Notes for Notes, a non-profit organization that designs, equips and staffs after-school recording studios inside Boys and Girls Clubs. Notes for Notes offers youth opportunities to explore, create and record music for free.

Read the full article HERE.