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Chicago is no stranger to the presence of music greats roaming amongst its skyline. From Herbie Hancock and Jennifer Hudson to Kanye West and Chance the Rapper, it has been the birthplace of both inspiration and genius. The city has no shortage of talent- and a group of fiery females is ready to prove their budding abilities.
Over the weekend of December 6th, the GRAMMY Foundation partnered with Best Buy’s Geek Squad Academy to bring a GRAMMY Camp - Weekend experience to 34 talented female musicians in the City of Chicago. Hosted at DePaul University, industry professionals came to work with the first come first serve applicants for a taste of what their futures in the industry could hold.
Perhaps the most defining element of this GRAMMY Camp - Weekend was the strictly all female student atmosphere, stressing the presence of strong females in the music industry. One would think that in 2014 there would be no lack of women ready to win in a man’s world-but hopefully with more programs like this, the numbers will be equal in times to come.
Mary Mazurek, a recording engineer, knows this obstacle well. “We want to give them the resources that females in the industry haven’t had in the past,” she said. “Women look at the issues a little differently then men- we add something. We can absolutely contribute, we do, and we will continue to.”
Singer/Songwriter and Fiddler Anne Harris is confident that these opportunities will spur a positive trend for hopefuls. “Knowing that there’s another generation of young women and being able to be a role model to girls in a male dominated industry is inspiring. Our presence is important for other women, and young men, to know that we are a force to be reckoned with.”
As the GRAMMY Camp summer program just celebrated its 10th year, this weekend provided the girls with a taste of what the annual residential summer GRAMMY Camps entail, and push them in their musical journeys. “This serves as a bit of an introductory experience,” commented Chris Sampson, a song writing faculty member. “The act of music is so self empowering, for anyone. You create something from nothing. Especially with music, before it’s created you have silence. You fill this silence up with the power to move someone. I’m hoping that they get even a hint of that joy today- that’s highly motivating.”
While honing their skills, faculty member Greg “Stryke” Chin, an Electronic Music Producer, stressed why these programs are so critical. “Were trying to instill in these young ladies to think critically to best plan their career. It’s not about being the best beat maker or guitar player, that’s absolutely important, but it’s really also about planning for all aspects they need.”
The integration of Best Buy’s Geek Squad Academy was the perfect setting for these girls to get their hands on not only the structure needed to put those plans into actions, but also the resources by which they could achieve them.
Best Buy’s eight Teen Tech Centers in the cities of Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, Washington D.C, Miami, New York City, Seattle and San Antonio allow afterschool programs in various areas of studies, but this is the first time they have been able to work with the GRAMMY Camp program to highlight their fine arts focus. “We take this into neighborhoods where students might not have access to this kind of technology and create a spark,” said Senior Manger of Community Relations and head of Geek Squad Academy, Andrea Wood. “They get two days to give a variety of opportunity to find something they love and want to pursue.”
It can be said without question that GRAMMY in the Schools events like these camps, and the generous efforts of the Geek Squad Academy, are creating an environment for young women and men alike to collaborate and grow with one another to build the industry in to what they want it to be. The tech savvy, networking, talented students are making the most of their passions and exploring all outlets for them to find success. Wood summed it up as best as one could- “There are a lot of kids out there who love music- that’s what we love about GRAMMY Camps. Its not just about creating music- it’s about creating a future."
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