On Saturday, February 27, 2016, E4 Youth kicked off its newest venture: the Music Legacy Project. Nine students from several schools across the greater Austin area were selected based on their exceptional musical talent to participate in recording and releasing a collaborative EP with Grammy-award winning band Grupo Fantasma. With a wide range of talent to work with, these students will make waves with a sound that is unique, complex and undeniably Austin.
This project was started in order to expose talented students to the process of professional music production, as well as to spread awareness about the history and culture of Austin that is being forgotten. Carl Settles, the founder of E4 Youth, described Austin as having “cultural amnesia,” due to the gentrification of areas such as East Austin. The communities of people that have lived here for generations, particularly African-American communities, are being pushed out by people who have no idea about the culture that is rooted here.
Chaka Mpeanaji, the director of the Music Legacy Project, told students, “You can say something about east Austin in one note. We want you to be interpreting what’s out there into music.” Carl continued on to describe the students as “beacons to tell your fellow young people that this is the story.” The younger generation has a voice that people are more inclined to listen to. Not only does this project provide its students with a valuable publicity opportunity, but it will also serve as a springboard for future plans to spread awareness of the arts and culture that are inexplicably woven into Austin and refuse to be dismissed.
Each student participating has their own brand and vibe that they’re bringing to the table. Collectively, they possess a healthy set of skills that encompass singing, rapping, and instrumentals. They also have the technological finesse to mix and share their music online. When asked what they hope to gain from this project, answers varied greatly from person to person. Some want to gain an advanced understanding of the technology of producing and mastering tracks while others want to learn the depth and history of Austin music. All wish to gain a sense of independence and confidence in their talent while also learning the skills needed to collaborate in a professional setting. E4 Youth has provided an invaluable opportunity for them to showcase their incredible musical capabilities and take advantage of publicity that will skyrocket them to a position of influence and success.
These student musicians will meet every week for the next couple of months to create and refine their music. The diversity in cultural background, musical strengths, and creative ambitions are sure to move the gears of this production flawlessly. Stay tuned for updates on their progress.