November 29, 2023
Nov 29, 2023
For a young person with aspirations in music, a recording studio can be an intimidating space – but a critical one.
“Because there are so many important life lessons that can be obtained from the creative music process,” David Kennedy said.
Kennedy is the education director for the local peer-to-peer literacy program, AVL Rise. It was started by the non-profit, OpenDoors, in 2021. The Kingston, Jamaica native is also a writer and musician himself, performing under the name “Coppa Stone.”
“One of the most important benefits is the opportunities it creates for students to not only express themselves creatively, but also to be comfortable in their own self-expression,” Kennedy said. “This experience boosts their self-confidence and self-awareness in many ways, and it teaches them the value of taking risks.”
In February, Kennedy led an effort to bring an exceptional high school student into the recording studio at Citizen Vinyl. The student, Khalid Jean, lent his hip-hop verse and voice to the collaborative song, “Every day we rise,” which is slated to premiere Thursday.
“I really hope it’s something people listen to and enjoy,” Jean said.
Kennedy and local producer/performer, Nex Millen, also accompany Jean on the track. The trio call themselves, “Three Kings.” Their lyrics center on possibility, pursuing dreams, and celebrating Black excellence. Kennedy says it’s a positive message to inspire local youth. But there’s a takeaway for the broader Asheville community, as well.
“It takes a community and a village for a child to succeed,” Kennedy said. “If we are all willing to do the work, in removing certain barriers and obstacles, and if we are all genuinely invested in creating an environment where all students can succeed, then the possibilities are endless, and our students will not only shine, but they will achieve.”
The message comes as the city grapples with glaring racial disparities, particularly in the areas of education, housing and economic opportunities. While there have been positive shifts to address systemic reparations in recent years – the city of Asheville committed $2.1 million toward reparations – much of the work lies in the hands of individuals and businesses, looking inward to identify and address where structural racism and barriers to access linger.
That’s where OpenDoors is helping identify solutions, particularly as it pertains to youth.
Jean says the time he spent in the recording studio was a friendly nudge out of his comfort zone.
“It also marks a large shift in my own relationship with music creation, and I am now having more fun working on music because I’m a lot more confident in it,” Jean said.
OpenDoors plans to release the track live on its Instagram on Thurs., March 31 at 6:30-7:00pm. You can follow them here.