City And Riverbend Partner For Youth Outreach Initiative

Friday, June 6, 2014

Organizers with Riverbend will host live shows featuring the Chattanooga Department of Youth and Family Development’s Stars of Chattanooga, a diversified group of teen and young adult musicians, as well as an outreach concert for teens with the Strut’s headliner act, Big James and The Chicago Playboys.

Over 100 teens, ages 12-18 from various Youth and Family Development Centers, will gather at Lindsey Street Hall for an educational concert on Monday from 1-2 p.m. Big James Montgomery and his contemporary blues band, the Chicago Playboys, horn heavy sound makes for dance music and intricate arrangements that the city’s youth will experience up close, for the first time. Teens will have a chance to interact with blues legends, and discuss and ask questions about the music industry. Power 94’s Eric Foster, will emcee and discuss his own life experiences as a youth in Chattanooga, overcoming adversity and achieving success.

The Stars of Chattanooga,  ages 13-22 years old from various neighborhoods of Chattanooga, will perform live on the VW Stage on Wednesday form 6-7:15 p.m.  These up-and-coming artists, many with little to no experience, wrote, recorded and produced over a dozen songs at the city’s South Chattanooga YFD Center recording studio. This year’s artists feature more diversity, including singer songwriters and blues artist from city of Chattanooga’s Heritage House in East Brainerd. On Wednesday, each artist will perform his or her songs, on one of the biggest stages at Riverbend. 

The Stars of Chattanooga, a youth development group, created in fall of 2012 by the Department of Youth and Family Development (formally Parks and Recreation), has provided exposure and opportunity to over 30 artists as young as 8-years-old, who have written, recorded and produced their own music of choice. Several artists began simply with a piece of paper and an idea, before producing their own song.  The 2013’s inaugural CD featured songs, ranging from those written about violence that the artists had seen themselves, to social issues and lyrics of confidence.  The 2014’s CD will be released at this year’s Riverbend performance and features similar messages, including a compilation song, mixing acoustic, blues, R&B, dance and hip hop, highlighting unity between the artists.  

Each song was screened, making sure lyrics were not offensive, and each artist is required to follow a set of rules while a part of the program. These rules include intolerance of misconduct, attendance, respect for others and respect for oneself, among others. Members of the 2013 inaugural Stars of Chattanooga, along with Power 94’s Big Tula have served as mentors to the incoming artists.

The program serves as both an educational and possible career development path. Recently, famed producer and songwriter, Thomas Paden, who has written for Reba McEntire, George Strait, Kenny Rodgers and others, sat down with the youth, discussing his role in the music industry. 

Both 2013 and 2014 Stars of Chattanooga CDs are available at South Chattanooga YFD Center at 1151 West 40th St. in St. Elmo, on the night of their Riverbend Performance. 

For more information about the city of Chattanooga’s recording studios at Eastdale and South Chattanooga Centers, contact Brian Smith at 643-6096.

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