The House of Blues Music Forward Foundation donated a state-of-the-art studio to the Social Justice Learning Institute in Inglewood on Thursday, Sept. 24.
The Social Justice Learning Institute (SJLI) is a program that works with students, both during school and after school through music. Founded in 2008, it has impacted over 12,500 residents by giving teens a place to express themselves.
“SJLI has helped me a lot as far as giving a space to use my time to do something positive with my peers,” said Beron Thompkins, 17.
The institute teaches creative team leadership, music theory, song writing, music production, mixing board basics, along with music and performance training. They also focus on health and wellness, teaching and encouraging students to plant in their empowerment garden.
“When we began doing this work, we always knew that our young men wanted to be able to tell their stories and they’ve been able to in fun, dynamic ways, but the music studio opens another avenue for them to get out and transform hearts and mind,” said SJLI Executive Director D’Artagnan Scorza.
The night was full of performances by students and tours of the building. There was an array of people in attendance from community youth leaders, to school officials, to members of the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation.
“The young people that performed were outstanding. They are the exact reason why we wanted to put some dollars into this community,” said Marjorie Gilberg, executive director of the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation. “This is an important part of who they are and who they want to be and we’re grateful for the opportunity to support them.”
The studio comes complete with a Casio keyboard, an electronic drum set, various microphones, a four string bass, an acoustic and electric guitar, audio box, effects mixer and production system.
“The studio is everything because it’s the only studio that I have access to to speak my mind,” said Malik Brock, 18, one of the students at SJLI. “It’s like an escape and I appreciate the donation because I’ve seen from when it was just a laptop and a mic and not it’s legit.”
Not only are the students appreciative of the studio, but the teachers as well.
“It’s an outlet for student creativity. They can express themselves, vent a little bit and learn some techniques for the future if they really want to pursue music,” said DJ Soul-O, who teaches the students twice a week on all things music and performing. “Once they get that first feel of recording and the production process, they’re hooked.”
To end off the night, SJLI was given a plaque which was made of the wall fabric from the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd, which is now closed. The event was full of music and community engagement that kept everyone smiling throughout the night.
“I would describe it as an event that brings people together,” said Scorza. “We brought different community leaders, community members, youth leaders, young folk, school partners, we just a number of people together to help be a part of the community.”
For more information on how to get involved with SJLI, visit sjli.org.