As more of Baltimore’s youth fall victim to violent crime like yesterday’s double shooting— a local nonprofit is making it their business to engage the city’s youth by a thread that connects us all.
Before they ever step foot on a big stage to showcase their talent, it starts in a lab with a laptop, production software and an idea that comes to life.
7th grader Devontay Poole is learning what that creative process feels like first hand.
He already wants to make it a career.
"My favorite part is making the beats for the rappers," he said.
That's access and exposure Robert Levine the founder and director of Beyond the Natural Foundation had in mind when he created the program.
These students are in the program's introduction to song writing and production class.
"Kids who may not have any exposure to the beat making process...how to compose music and we're giving them some of the foundational tools so that can get engaged in the process of creating original music content," said Levine.
He says this is an avenue he created to pay it forward as a Baltimore-raised producer and songwriter himself.
"Hopefully it sparks a deeper interest in music so that they can take a deeper dive in seeing how they explore music and use it for themselves to build their futures," he said. "That's our job as we go through doors, opening up doors for those coming behind us."
Sadly those doors of opportunity for some of Baltimore's youth are being nailed shut by violence and crime plaguing the city. Which is in part why Levine wants to remove those barriers to success in music as early in a student life as he can.
"You don't want them to have to try to figure out what-if or could I have this or I see this over here. Can I have exposure to that and is that something for me and they spend years wondering what if...what if...what if," Levine said.
And filling their time with skills and habits that will produce the future they desire to have one song at a time.
"That's less time where they're not being productive and being constructive in their communities and things like that so it's really important how we can really do our part in trying to clean up the streets and getting kids back in the rec centers, getting them applying themselves to something meaningful."