Basically it’s all about our youth. I’d never quit this gig, because it’s all about making positive music a reality in their lives. Today’s sessions were a little emotional. I’m working with a group of students at Overbrook HS in West Philadelphia who are putting the finishing touches on their song, Wrong Place, Wrong Time. One of the students, a female, was upset because the concept of the song reminded her of a situation that happened to one of her friends, shot by his own mother, in a domestic argument that went wrong. Gun violence is a monster. So, we talked briefly about the situation, and she said that she had been trying to block it out of her head, but as she continued to write and rehearse her part, the emotions and thoughts that came back were so overwhelming, they just broke her down. That’s a lot to deal with as a teen, and teens deal with these issues constantly, so it made me realize the importance of this song, for other students, who may be going through similar situations, and how being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be life altering.
Now these students are in my class because they want to and expect to learn, first and foremost, the art of music production and songwriting. Well, they do learn all of that stuff. What they don’t expect is a healthy dose of reality. Music is a very powerful force. I look around the room and see kids nodding their heads hypnotically to the track, which is on a continuous loop. One of the students is repeating the hook that we just recorded:
Living in these hard times, dealing with these scarred crimes
Things happen when you in the wrong place at the wrong time.
“Yo Mr. Paul, I can’t stop saying this hook.”
I said, “Good, because it’s a whole lot better than you repeating what’s on the radio.”
The creation of this song has impacted a small classroom. Now the challenge becomes impacting the masses.