Arts Greenhouse helps students create music

Senior Derrick Walker works in one of the music studios in CFA’s basement, where high school students learn basic technology skills. (credit: Travis Wolfe/Photo Staff) Senior Derrick Walker works in one of the music studios in CFA’s basement, where high school students learn basic technology skills. (credit: Travis Wolfe/Photo Staff)

This Thursday April 23, beats will be dropped in the UC as several Carnegie Mellon student organizations pool their talents to put on a benefit concert called “Rebirth.” SPIRIT, CMU Turntable Club, WRCT, IMPACT, and the Black Business Association have all worked together to bring the spirit of rebirth in hip-hop to the Carnegie Mellon community and support arts education in the Pittsburgh area.

“The goal of the event is threefold,” said Gemma Easterling, a senior electrical and computer engineering major and organizer for the event. “We primarily want to raise funds to support the Arts Greenhouse hip-hop program, provide exposure of the program and what it offers to the Pittsburgh community, and involve the Carnegie Mellon community, giving them the opportunity to see positive hip-hop that is not often played on the radio.”

The concert will feature two internationally renowned female hip-hop artists who create powerful music with positive content. “I’m most excited for the female MCs,” Easterling commented. “The media often portrays female hip-hop artists in one light, but these women bring a strong positive, political message.”

MC Invincible hails from Detroit and uses her music as an outlet to combine hip-hop with social action. She empowers her community through art by spearheading projects that include youth-led media and a collectively held music label.

Similarly, Brooklyn-based MC, vocalist, poet, and playwright Queen GodIs moves crowds with her thought-provoking lyrics.

Her diverse background includes working as an education consultant, being a youth mentor, and leading a New York City teen poetry slam team to a national championship.

Chrystal Miller, a sophomore biology major, believes the concert will help “people get exposed to a different side of what hip-hop is about.” She said, “A lot of what gets played on the radio or at parties is not representative of all of hip-hop music, so I was really excited when I heard that our campus was hosting this event and bringing in artists who have something more to offer than music about guns, women, and money.”

Local artists Formula 412, Pittsburgh’s hip-hop band; Jasiri X, a Pittsburgh-based political lyricist; and the International Freestylers, a Pittsburgh based b-boy crew, will join the headliners on stage.
In addition to the musical acts, the venue will highlight local clothing designers, entrepreneurs, and graffiti artists, with refreshments provided by local restaurants. While the event aims to raise community awareness of positive hip-hop culture, it will also serve as a fundraiser for the Arts Greenhouse, a project of Carnegie Mellon’s Center for the Arts in Society.

The Arts Greenhouse project is in danger of fading due to lack of funding in the current harsh economic climate, and 100 percent of the proceeds from the concert will benefit the program.
“I really wish I could be a part of this concert, but the project is one of the many reasons why I want to attend Carnegie Mellon,” said Imani Palmer, a high school student who worked with Easterling for one of her school projects.

Through a series of workshops, the Arts Greenhouse teaches Pittsburgh high school students real-world skills to help them pursue musical careers, from writing and producing music to distributing and marketing it.

Participants are given the opportunity to work with local hip-hop artists and CMU’s state-of-the-art recording equipment, and perform publicly.

“I wish projects like [the Arts Greenhouse] were everywhere because they help kids like me find what we are interested in. I know I want to be involved with music for the rest of my life,” Palmer said.

Easterling said that the program is important because “lots of kids in Pittsburgh are interested in music but don’t have access to the resources to produce their own. We give them the opportunity to interact with local hip-hop artists and Carnegie Mellon students, maybe even inspiring them to pursue higher education.”
The event takes place Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m. in Rangos.