"I'm on a mission to remind you all about the importance of music -- just think about what you would do without music in your daily life. I know that through music we are empowering the success of our future leaders." -- Swizz Beatz
This Thursday, on the Intrepid, our students will have the opportunity to showcase their talents and participate in a once-in-a-lifetime discussion with recording artist Swizz Beatz, and Billboard's Editorial Director Bill Werde. With a special lineup of performances from our students, we will also have our Music Unites supporters including Grammy-winning songwriter Angela Hunte, who spoke at our first Intrepid event along with Council Member for the 26th District in New York City, Jimmy Van Bramer, who is also the Chair of NYC Cultural Affairs.
"Music and the arts play an essential role in the development of our City's children," said Van Bramer. "I'm proud to join Swizz Beatz, one of the world's most prolific producers, and renowned editorial director, Bill Werde, in helping enlighten these children about the endless creative and educative possibilities that music can give them."
The power of music is something that brought me to connect and discover a true visionary and role model, and most importantly, my friend in this musical journey and movement.
When I look for words of inspiration to keep me going on this journey, I turn back to Swizz's words, "Sky's not the limit, it's just the view," says Swizz. "Be different, be passionate, be dedicated. The biggest thing is never give up on something that you feel 100 percent is your passion. Music speaks to my soul. It's my life and I hope those who feel the same will join me on our mission because Music Unites.
Swizz Beatz and I share something powerful in common -- it's what brought us together in the first place -- music was our calling and our love for music, touching and changing the lives of our students through the power of music. He was a true mentor and inspiration to me-- and he didn't even know it when we first met back at an awards show. I would have never imagined a few years later we would together be embarking on this journey to help save music education and after-school programs from being cut across NYC. It goes to show if you set your mind to do something, anything is possible. Swizz was appointed as our Music Unites artist ambassador to create "Music-Versity," an educational series to inspire, empower and unite middle and high school students to provide a memorable musical experience for at-risk teens, whether that was at Swizz Beatz recording studio or our Power of One Intrepid educational event for over 200 students from the Bronx Charter School for the Arts, Women's Academy of Excellence in the Bronx, United Nations Girl Up, and Young Audiences New York.
I followed his dedication and the tremendous efforts in bringing music and arts education back to his hometown in the South Bronx through his work with the Bronx Charter School for the Arts. His passion and vision ignited something in me and I knew it was my calling to embark on a movement to raise awareness for the importance of having after-school music programs and unite our efforts with my foundation Music Unites, a non-profit organization dedication to empowering youth and bringing music education to underprivileged children in inner city school systems
Swizz and I met several years ago at the SESAC 15th Annual SESAC New York Music Awards. At that point, he didn't realize he was my mentor and I was learning everything as an outsider looking in but following every step of the way as he encouraged change with his philanthropic passions. That evening at the award show, I couldn't help myself-- I wanted to learn more about what inspired him and find out about his journey of success and discover what it is that made him tick. I wanted to share my story of Music Unites and how El Sistema, a program I learned about on 60 Minutes that started in Caracas Venezuela by Jose Antonio Abreu, a true visionary that spoke our language, had inspired me to start this movement in the U.S. It wasn't just providing a place for a student to go after school to study and express themselves, developing their creative minds through music, but to educate and teach them about the behind the scenes of the music business. At that moment, I mentioned in passing how I would be honored to have help me in this movement to raise awareness for music education as its being cut across NYC public schools. He looked me in the eyes and saw I meant business and after a moment of silence he introduced me to his manager Monique Blake who had later brought this vision and dream of mine to life and made it happen.
Swizz to me is a renaissance man -- a renowned artist, producer, fashion designer, painter, father -- you name it and he does it. I have yet to learn his secret formula of his success and the balance he's mastered in juggling it all. You couldn't ask for a better ambassador and role model to inspire us all. I watched him touch students lives and share his stories of success and those who inspired him like Clive Davis on his musical journey and gave him his big break.
Fast forward to a few days before the holidays, there Swizz was in the comfort of his home away from home, his Chelsea recording studio, just after getting off an international flight where he toured multiple cities in less than a week -- but tirelessly and effortlessly there to inspire and teach over 30 students from the Bronx Charter School for the Arts (BxA), Women's Academy of Excellence (WAE) and Music Unites Ambassadors, sharing his inspiring stories and journey to success and the behind the scenes of the craftsmanship of the creative process of music teaching them the behind the scenes of the business and showing them first-hand how it all comes together.
There he asked the students "Do any of you know what a producer is?" One student answered "to make albums." The other "to entertain people." My job is to take creativity from an artist vision and make it come to life.
"I support any group that is putting music first and empowers the youth -- music is my outlet and know how much it can change everyones world," Swizz shared at his studio."I love to see young faces interested in something I'm so passionate about because it changed my life. Music was my outlet and I know how much it can change the world for a child."
Growing up as a kid, music was my everything. At the age of five, I was drawn to the piano. It was not only my friend but it became a part of me that later inspired me to attend Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern University to study to become a concert pianist. It was a gift that I recognized I was blessed that would be the root of my life.
Swizz had a similar feeling, "The way music affected me as a kid was that it gave me a second option. The first option was to run around in the streets with friends wasting time. My second option was to stay home and do music. it put me on a different level than my peers at that time. I believe it saved my life."