Members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland’s George Johnson Teen Unit are hitting higher notes, unlocking dreams and discovering new talents in the club’s fully equipped recording studio.
Unit director Wyatt Bevis said the club received a grant from Taco Bell for $8,000. The money was used to construct a two-room studio at the front of the teen center.
The larger of the two rooms houses a sound board, a large monitor and several chairs. The smaller room is equipped with stools, microphones and a variety of musical instruments. A window built into the wall between the two rooms allows visual access from the soundboard to the musicians at work in the studio.
Bevis originally wanted to have three rooms with the control room in the middle. He changed his mind on further reflection.
“Our control room is basically big enough so that after we record different tracks of the song, the band can fit into the control room and listen to it as a group,” he said. “Our smaller sound room is where we went with the soundproofing [materials].”
Additional funds were donated to purchase the soundboard, guitars, sound gear, recording software Pro Tools, bass guitars and a drum set. Wyatt said director of operations Derrick Kinsey, who is also the co-owner of Gravel Road Entertainment, was key in helping to determine the items needed for the studio.
Bevis saw the recording studio as another outlet teens could use to express themselves.
“My train of thought was what can I provide the community of teenagers in Cleveland something they have never had access to,” Bevis mused. “They have access to a basketball court, art studios, all types of sporting events [and] a theater, but there is not really a place where a teenager can come for free and maybe [record and produce] their music at no charge to them.”
Teenagers began checking out the studio around February. The interest has steadily grown over the intervening months. Now a staff member dedicates most of their time to helping the aspiring musical artists of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland achieve their dreams.
Richie Ben Judah learned how to use the Pro Tools software through lessons with two students from Lee University. He has helped the members create original songs, record covers and work on collaborations. A schedule has been set up to ensure students have equal time in the studio.
“I am in control of the whole program,” Ben Judah said. “I will have them in that room with a microphone and the door will be closed. When I do this [gesture] that is their cue to listen in the headphones and be ready to sing.”
Two young hopefuls, Dawson Tyler and Tatum Murray, collaborated on “Little Talks” by Monsters and Men. Both were excited by the opportunity to utilize their singing skills in the club.
Dawson said the experience was a lot of work. The preteen has been singing since he was 5 years old. It took him about two days to get his part right.
“We come in and we choose a song,” he explained. “We get the lyrics and we practice. The next day or so, we start learning parts and backgrounds.”
Tatum has been singing since she was 6 years old. The preteen said she has dreams of being a singer. She said singing lets her emotions out.
“After you record and put it all together, it feels really good because you get to think to yourself, ‘I did that,’” she said. “It is an accomplishment. It is a lot of fun.”
Bevis said his long-term goal is to get the members’ original and cover songs on iTunes, so anyone can hear them. He said the iTunes uploads will be the highest quality the club can make them.
“My dream is to be able to help kids who love music start their career. Everyone needs a starting point,” Bevis said. “It also provides them a way to learn how to operate in a recording studio.”
He encouraged teens outside of the BGCC membership to check out the studio at the unit. The recording studio will also be used by the club for commercial spots and in-house projects.