By Alisha Dixon
As the legacy of Motown Records lives on, a new generation of artists, musicians and songwriters are emerging from its shadows through the Motown Museum’s annual Motown EDU Summer Camp hosted August 7-18, 2017 on Wayne State University’s main campus. The week culminated with a final student showcase featuring performances by Motown EDU Summer Camp students.
Now in its 4th year, the program was created by Robin Terry, Motown Museum chairwoman and granddaughter of museum founder Esther Gordy Edwards in 2014 to serve Detroit area youth interested in the arts and legacy of Motown Records.
The goal of program, Tresa Galloway, Motown EDU director and curriculum developer said, extends beyond learning and developing the skills necessary to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
“Our kids leave each year with skills that will take them well into adulthood. While the performance aspect is important, the self esteem, life skills and passion will have a greater impact on their lives,” Galloway said. “Seeing them transform each year is truly special.”
Motown EDU provides Detroit area high school students, ages 13-18, ten days of professional immersion in songwriting, musicianship, instrumental composition and performance with the help of industry professionals like Rhonda Ross Kendrick, actress, jazz vocalist and daughter of Diana Ross and Motown Records founder Berry Gordy.
“I have a passion about children knowing their power and their potential and even about parents knowing how to give that to their kids. So, everything that I’m involved with has to do with that. I have other not for profits that I’m involved with, but this one is very special to my heart, clearly, because I’m tied to its legacy,” Kendrick said about Motown EDU.
“So many of us just look at the success and the glamour and the fame that came out of it, but there was something that preceded that. What preceded that was the hard work, the dreaming, the thinking outside of the box, the making a way out of no way, the creating a space for yourself that never existed before. That’s an important lesson.”
This year, Motown EDU was expanded from 5 days to ten days featuring a curriculum that gave students a more immersive experience where they learned about artist and brand development, team building, identifying talents and skills, integrating art into daily living, songwriting sessions, recording sessions, beat-making workshops and vocal and performance coaching.
“In two weeks, it’s unbelievable that kids can go from being very shy about their talent and expressing it to being ready to perform on a big stage and their really anxious and excited to do it. I think the importance of the program is the personal development that they didn’t expect to get. To make them better people, better performers, more introspective thinkers as young people and to become really amazing performers, you can’t beat it in a two week program,” said Jharid Collins, Motown EDU Vocal coach.
“You can judge a society by its artists. Art allows you to have a voice. Art allows you to understand what you’re feeling and experiencing and it allows you to express that and help somebody else. It is a language supersedes all of the other languages, not just music, but all if the other arts. It’s how we connect to one another. It’s how we raise the integrity of a society. It also ties us to our past. It gives us ownership. It gives us an understanding. It allows us to see that people in the past were experiencing the same things we’re experiencing,” Kendrick said.
For more information about the 2018 Motown EDU Summer Camp, visit www.motownmuseum.org.