For five years, the Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village (SBEV) in Flint has been a safe place for students to learn, participate in afterschool programming and expand their creative interests. Now, students have even more ways to express their talent.
Students at SBEV already were learning how to play musical instruments and use music production equipment, but there was a bigger vision. Two classrooms were gutted, renovated and transformed into a professional music studio, which was completed earlier this year.
“It’s called The Antidote Studio because there’s so much hurt in Flint and so many challenges. When students come in to work on their music, they can see it as a solution, see it as an antidote,” said Maryum Rasool, executive director at Sylvester Broome Empowerment Village. “Flint has a lot of talent that is untapped because they don’t have access. We want to create a hub here to introduce students to music.”
For 14-year-old Armonie Roland, access to the music studio is allowing him to learn more skills to help him reach his goal of becoming a DJ and music producer. For 16-year-old Gary Bosen, the skills he is gaining is helping him combine two of his passions — music production and wrestling. Gary wants to create entrance music for professional wrestlers.
“The music lab is helping me pursue my dream by providing me with the tools I need, along with a really good instructor that is very knowledgeable and helps me a lot,” Gary said. “It’s really cool because most kids my age don’t have access to a facility this nice.”
The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation granted $36,500 to SBEV to support construction of The Antidote Studio.
In addition to Mott’s support, many organizations rallied to the cause, donating dozens of guitars and drum sets, as well as music production equipment.
Students are able to learn that being a musician or artist isn’t the only musical career path, Rasool said. They also learn about music production, lighting, wiring, being a DJ and operating a podcast, among other things.
The music studio at SBEV is something students are proud of, Rasool said. “When they see the new studio they think ‘Wow, this is ours? This is in our neighborhood?’”
Armonie said he had never seen anything like The Antidote Studio before. He loves making beats, recording, DJing and writing lyrics, and he hopes he can pass on his skills.
“It’s very cool. I have the chance to be in a real studio and learn from people who come from where I come from. I want to become a music producer and a DJ, so everything we are learning in class is helping me work toward that,” Armonie said. “I want to eventually teach other people the skills I’m learning and be able to produce my own song from start to finish.”
The music studio also can help connect students with the possibility of going to college. The music production curriculum at SBEV mirrors the music production program at Mott Community College (MCC), allowing students to easily transition after high school, Rasool said. MCC students also become mentors and instructors for students at SBEV.
“A majority of our students use the studio and learn new skills because they love music. Some students don’t even know if college is an option for them,” Rasool said. “Our students create bonds with the MCC students, and they can see themselves going off to college. It’s a way to bridge the gap between the two. I wanted the kids to know they can create a career out of this if it’s something they are passionate about.”
In the future Rasool plans to open up the music studio to the community during The Antidote Studio After Hours, allowing residents 18 and older access to the equipment.
“This is just the beginning,” Rasool said.