Thursday, January 29, 2009
Don’t Stop The Music!
Whether you are a student, a parent or an educator we can all agree that getting a student to listen is the first important step to a phenomenal learning experience,” says Dallas Austin Foundation (DAF) staffer, Lyvotte Hall. Featured in a video, which highlighted the purpose and achievements of DAF, Hall is among a host of parents, corporate and community leaders, celebrities, and foundation staff who work to ensure that music education maintains its position in public schools.
Based on the premise that “young people who learn music excel academically and are more likely to attend college,” the Dallas Austin Foundation is “committed to transforming the lives of young people by enriching their educational experiences through the use of music and film.”
DAF was founded in 2003 by Grammy Award-winning producer and songwriter, Dallas Austin who began his career when he was in 10th grade. DAF sponsors six programs, which include an HBCU college/university tour, a spring break financial empowerment summit and college scholarship awards. “Don’t Stop the Music” (DSTM) is the foundation’s premier after school program, which was designed to keep music curriculum in public schools where in some cases, music programs were withdrawn due to funding.
Schools with DSTM programs have recording studios on campus where students learn aspects of music production including song writing, music composition, and vocal recording. Students participating in the program develop character as well as problem solving skills. Maintaining academic standards is also encouraged. DSTM currently serves students who attend 10 Atlanta area middle and high schools.
When asked what comment stands out among student responses Austin said, “Every time I see somebody in the streets who [participated in] the program, they just say, ‘Thank you so much Mr. Austin for the program.’ Noticeably moved by the exchange Austin continued, “That means a lot to me. You get to really feel it and really see it when it’s happening. ‘Thanks,’ is the biggest thing they can say to me.”
A Gala Affair
Music icons, Gladys Knight and George Clinton were honored during DAF’s Third Annual Don’t Stop the Music Gala. Held at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre in Atlanta in March, guests enjoyed a palatal dinner and an extraordinary concert hosted by Cedric the Entertainer. R&B princess, Fantaisia serenaded the audience as did Ms. Knight. Tyler Perry whose Tyler Perry Company is a foundation sponsor, attended the gala along with rapper, Young Jeezy and recording artist, Monica. Actress, Nicole Parker also attended the gala with brother-in-law, Patrick Kodjoe.
DAF has an aggressive goal to raise $25 million. Among other initiatives, donations from the gala as well as an online auction will enable the foundation to open ten more studios before 2008 and expand nationally in 2009. “We’re going to make a curriculum based program and take it to Washington and make sure all the schools have it. Whether it’s D.C. or Florida...It’s like there is a need for [the curriculum],” Austin advised.
For more on DAF, visit: www.dallasaustinfoundation.org.