When local musician and youth advocate Kiran Vedula began giving music and video production workshops at COA’s Riverwest and Goldin Centers in fall 2017, one of the biggest challenges was actually getting kids into the recording studio. Many of the preteens and teens in COA’s new Music and Video Production Program were nervous to record their voices for everyone to hear. Luckily, Kiran – also known as “Q the Sun” – used his namesake to draw the kids out of their shells. For Kiran, to “cue the sun” means to create an atmosphere of positive energy. As a founding member of Milwaukee artists’ collective, New Age Narcissism, and as the Artist-in-Residence/Director of COA’s Music and Video Production Program, Kiran has used his philosophy to help COA’s young musicians and filmmakers find their voices and the courage to flourish.
COA’s Music and Video Production Program gives preteens and teens the chance to develop their music production, singing, rapping, storytelling, acting, and video production skills. The program was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Milwaukee Public Schools Partnership for the Arts and Humanities. The kids spend four hours per week with Kiran and the other teaching-artists from New Age Narcissism, who guide kids toward finished creative projects. Another key part of COA’s Music and Video Production Program is film. Youth are currently working with Kiran and New Age Narcissism to write, shoot, star in, and edit a short film that will be considered for showing at the Milwaukee Film Festival this September.
Today, those same nervous kids who struggled in the studio are now lighting up local stages and putting their talents on display for the whole community. Examples of these young artists’ songs, and music videos can be seen on COA’s YouTube page. Among the many examples of youth’s creativity is 16-year-old rapper Nebiyah “Shaddye” Jordan. Shaddye has taken advantage of the program to turn her artistic dreams into a reality; she even wrote and produced her very own 5-song EP, “My Life in a Boombox”. “She’s very talented and driven,” says Kiran. “One time she even came into the studio while she was sick.” Shaddye will soon premiere her EP at a public event at FREESPACE on May 23rd.
COA’s young artists performed at the Arte Para Todos Fest at Colectivo Coffee on April 29th. Held over four days at venues throughout the city, Arte Para Todos is Milwaukee’s largest local music festival. Youth are also scheduled to perform their music at the MPS All-City Arts Festival held on Friday, May 11th at Henry Maier Festival Park.
Overall, Kiran, New Age Narcissism, and the young artists from COA have worked together to create a beautiful portfolio of music, videos, and lasting friendship. Kiran has seen firsthand how all their time spent in the studio has allowed youth to grow into a family of artists. “They’ve grown really close,” says Kiran. “They didn’t even know each other at first.” Kiran is helping guide these young artists to use their work for positive change in Milwaukee. He says the program’s impact on students is huge. One teen, in particular, even observed how the program made them a better student. “Since starting the program, their GPA went up from 1.2 to above a 3.0,” Kiran beams. “They’ve come out of their shell.”
Support COA’s young musicians at these upcoming events:
Shaddye’s EP Release @ FREESPACE at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts – Wednesday, May 23rd
MPS All-City Arts Festival @ Henry Maier Festival Park (South Pavilion) – Friday, May 11th, 2:00PM