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Most people associate the GRAMMYs with an annual gathering of music’s most celebrated, high caliber artists, coming together dressed to the nines for a night of amusement and celebration. True, the GRAMMY Awards are The Recording Academy’s most prolific and honored event, but the ceremony encapsulates but one of 365 days a year, and essentially, is more a catalyst to the heart of the organization’s work.
Among the many facets of the organization are The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares, The Recording Academy’s two charity initiatives, established to preserve and further the legacy of music in American culture. MusiCares primarily strives to assist musicians in times of distress, helping those struggling with substance abuse issues or financial downfall. The GRAMMY Foundation, built with a broader scope, includes programs established to further the impact of music in the lives of children and society, which, according to its mission statement, “bring national attention to important issues such as the value and impact of music and arts education and the urgency of preserving our rich cultural heritage.”
Among these various opportunities, are GRAMMY in the Schools and GRAMMY camp, two programs assembled directly with educational institutions to encourage youth to not only participate in music, but explore opportunities to pursue music as a career. Joseph Langford, a project coordinator for the program, has worked hands on with kids for several years now, guiding entertainment’s rising stars into a path best suited to their interests.
“GRAMMY Camp gives kids a perspective on all the elements of music…The students are broken down into groups to learn about everything from audio engineering to touring and music journalism…They participate in workshops and hear panels. It’s a lot about interacting with each other through the programs, and, at the end, they put together a showcase to demonstrate all they’ve accomplished. They’re responsible for making the arrangements and handling each aspect of the presentation,” explains Lanford. “The main goal of GRAMMY Camp is to provide kids with the tools they need to facilitate a career in music.”
Not least of which is spotlighting alternatives beyond rock n’ roll superstardom. At GRAMMY Camp, youth spend a week studying their specific fields of interest as well as panels featuring all that makes up the business, including music publishing, branding and new technology. Says Langford, “Even if they come in and decide they don’t want to pursue music, we’ve accomplished what we set out to do as we’ve made them aware of their options and what they entail.”
GRAMMY Camp takes place for ten days each summer in Los Angeles, and for the first time this year, in Brooklyn. New York’s edition will occur at the brand new Converse music studio facility, erected as an additional platform in the shoe line’s expanding partnership with the music industry. Past years’ camp panelists have brought out creative stars like Sara Bareilles, Lamont Dozier, Brian Culvertson and Jimmy Jam, and a similar cast is being assembled for this year. Similarly, The Recording Academy puts together a career day presentation for graduating seniors during GRAMMY week each year, with superstars such as Justin Timberlake, Keri Hilson and Nate ‘Danja’ Hills speaking with students about roles in the trade.
Langford also attests to the positive impact of his other project, the GRAMMY jazz ensembles, which unites kids from across the country to perform jazz at events during GRAMMY week. “These kids get to rub shoulders with big names, and perform with people like Esperanza Spaulding…I think it has a great impact because they are already set on what they want to do and the scholarship program allows them to take it to the next level. The overall experience is always really great.”