The NBT Music Columns: In response to the Virginia Tech tragedy

ashley-wool.jpgI read this on quirky pop/rock singer/songwriter Ashley Wool’s myspace page and asked her if i could put it up here,  her calm insight and compassion bode well for her music career and future:

In response to the Virginia Tech tragedy

 Death happens to everyone at some point, and often in seemingly unfair manners, often with nothing that could have been done to prevent it.  It is unfair when a tree falls and kills a sleeping group of campers.  It is unfair when children are born HIV-positive, and they are doomed to die as a result of a disease that no known medication can reverse.  It is unfair when a raccoon runs across the road in the middle of the night, and a driver sees it too late, and cannot stop the car in time to spare the animal’s life.

What happened at Virginia Tech was not a matter of unfairness that was beyond anyone’s direct control.  Seung-Hui Cho was directly responsible for the death of the 32 Virginia Tech students, despite the fact that he had a history of mental health issues.  Perhaps no amount of counseling could have suppressed his sudden desire or motive to kill so many people, including himself–but he was still responsible.  Perhaps an ideal solution to his internal problems was highly unlikely, but it was not impossible.However, many people do not consider what the solution might have been.  Instead, they cast the blame on others for not finding the solution before it was too late.  That is understandable; it is an easier concept to swallow.

Looking back on Cho’s history, there are so many places people could cast the blame.  One could blame the fact that he seemed physically destined for mental disorders.  One could blame the children that picked on him in his early adolescence for being shy and speaking oddly, thus making him more bitter.  One could blame his family, or the fact that his traditional Korean culture does not recognize mental illness, and thus his condition was never sufficiently addressed.  One could blame the work of an angry God.But casting blame does nothing.  It does not justify, or even explain Cho’s actions, nor does it validate the deaths of the Virginia Tech students.Most importantly, it does not help us as a nation, as a society, understand how to prevent terrible tragedies such as these from occurring in the future.

I am almost 20 years old, and I’ve seen plenty of tragedies such as this on the news–school shootings, suicide bombers, and most notably, the 9/11 attacks.  I was 14 years old when 9/11 happened.  I’d just begun high school, and at that age, it is very easy to become completely wrapped up in your own world of school, friends, and family.  But when the news of the destroyed Twin Towers reached my ears, I became terrified, because it had hit so physically close to home.  We lived only 45 minutes outside of New York City.  We had visited the Towers less than two months ago to buy discount Broadway tickets.  In my sixth period class, a girl was hysterically crying because her father worked right in the area.  He survived the attack, as did my friend’s uncle (after running down 65 flights of stairs in the burning Tower 2 as the doomed individuals on the top floors jumped out of windows all around him), but five others from our community were killed.  And my prayers are always with my high school alumni who were affected by the tragedy enough to participate themselves in fighting the war on terrorism.

Even though the Virginia Tech incident did not occur so close to where I live, and even though I don’t know any VT students personally, an attack like this seems to strike more of an emotional chord with me than even 9/11 did.  That is because the murders at VT were committed, not by crazed foreign terrorists living and dying for their warped political and moral beliefs, but by someone who is my peer.  A college student, just like me.  It could have been a classmate of mine, a roommate of mine, a childhood friend of mine, being killed, or doing the killing.

These are times when the “fragility of life” is discussed until we’re beating a dead horse.  Life’s fragility should not be the issue.  We cannot change the fact that those students never had a chance to live a post-college life, or the fact that Seung-Hui Cho was never able to live a mentally stable life.We cannot change the past, but that does not stop us from acknowledging it.  It is within our power to analyze what has happened, to consider every side to every issue before laying shallow and meaningless blame.  It is our job to do so.

I am certainly in no intellectual position to tell the world how to handle something like the Virginia Tech tragedy.  I do not know the panacea that will bring about world peace.  But where that is concerned, I remember a story that our reverend told us last year about a church sign she spotted once that said, “World Peace Starts Here.”And “here” did not necessarily mean within that one church itself.  As you know, even churches and denominations promoting peace and love can certainly have their own discrepancies and intolerances too.  And certainly, not everyone needs religion of any kind to create and promote peace.No, what the sign wanted to convey was that “here” means HERE.HERE.  Where I am, where you are, wherever we may be.And what’s more, we have the power to take peace wherever we go.  We may not know all the answers about the rest of the world, but each of us knows what peace feels like, and each of us has the power to spread it.And on that note, for a small bit of smiling relief, I now need to spread some peace to my chaotic-looking dorm room. 
But in the meantime, I ask that you keep the families and friends of the Virginia Tech victims in your hearts, and in your prayers (if you do pray).That’s why I always sign off with…Love, peace, and [something else, as if the world really needs anything else],❤ ~ Ashley 

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NBT Music Columns : Audra ‘Balancing It All’

blog-audra.jpgOur First Column from teen diva AUDRA

Wow, when I set out to make a dream come true, my mother told me it was going to require a lot – she was right.  I am now 17 years old; I been writing poetry and rap for about 5 years, but I just started performing and recording right after I turned 16. 

 

I have always enjoyed being busy and staying active.  I have always played sports – basketball and track and field. This year I added cheerleading to that list as well.  My friends joke me about having identity issues – they ask how can I be a Rapper and a cheerleader – the two images don’t jive.  I managed to pull it off.  I just received a Varsity Sports Letter for Cheerleading while simultaneously working on my first mix-tape.

 

My mother keeps reminding me that I have to maintain balance – enjoy my youth.  No problem, I’m a very social person.  I make sure I take time to hang out with friends, go to football and basketball games and definitely go shopping – the other sport J.  I’m a senior in high school and will be graduating in June – and yes, I am going to my Senior Prom.

 

I am an Honor Roll student who has been accepted by my #1 college choice.  I got college applications and scholarships out of the way early in the fall.  Now, I don’t have to focus on that.  I find that taking care of certain things when they first come up allows me to alleviate some of the pressure.  But then….there are occasions when I push the deadline a bit, maybe subconsciously because it forces me to get it right the first time – no time to second think myself.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t – it drives my Mom crazy.

 

Music is my love, my joy, my escape, my passion – did I say my love.  I love it. I love everything about it – writing and recording and certainly performing.  My songwriting is like poetry to me.  I can put my feelings on paper, say whatever I want.  I can talk about all the “girly” stuff; talk about the fun frivolous stuff.  I can even talk about things I have never experienced, only imagined.  Now, I don’t share everything in a song – sometimes a girl has to keep things to her self.  

 

My schedule gets pretty busy and tight and since I don’t get my driver’s license until mid-April, my mom is running around like a chicken with her head cut off – good things she is also a “high energy” person.  My busiest schedule is when I’m preparing for a show and doing sports at school. 

 

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday

6:00a.m. – Up for school

4:00 p.m. – Home from school and track practice

4:15 – 4:45 – Dinner

4:45 – 6:30 – Homework and chores (yes, I have to do chores around the house – I rush so I can log on to myspace.com and also check out NBT)

7:00 – 9:00 – Rehearsal and practice with backup dancers.

9:30 – 10:15 – Complete any unfinished homework

10:15 – 11:00 Talking with my best friend and preparing for school

11:00 – To bed (still talking on the phone – until I hear my Mom in the hallway)

 

When I don’t have a show, I use that time for recording and writing.  Sometimes we don’t book shows so I can focus on school and songwriting.

 

Wednesday

4:00 – Home from school and track practice

4:15 – 4:45 – Dinner

4:45 – 6:30 – Homework and chores

6:30 – “ME Time” – Telephone, Television and Internet – all at the same time.

 

We try to schedule studio time on Weekends or Wednesday or we just juggle my schedule to make it work – sometimes I miss a day of practice or rehearsals.  When it’s not track season my schedule opens up a lot.

 

In addition to all of this, I sing in the Church Choir and I sometimes work with a non-profit organization that offers programs for youth and the homeless. 

 

Fortunately, I was instilled with a “Can Do” attitude and I am willing to work for what I want.  I also have an unfaltering family support system.  I am truly enjoying life and as my Mom says “I’m making memories!!!”

 

 

The NBT Music Columns: New Soul Spotlight

Our first column from Myron Green CEO of MD Management, in which he spotlights new exciting artists.

 This month DeFakto

Hailing for Virginia,
USA is DeFakto, an emcee and producer with an undeniable uniqueness.  He has an airy, pitchy voice that is the perfect complement to his witty wordplay.  His power punch lines and the ability to blend messages and humor minus the played-out street talk of drugs, violence, and materialism bring it all together for independent artist as an emcee.  Production wise, he’s most known for fairly abstract compositions largely comprised of digital sounds and boom-bap drum patterns but can go any direction with his tracks.

 

Arguably a late bloomer, DeFakto comes from a creative writing and freestyle background which he developed throughout his younger days.  From high school on through college, he engaged in cipher-style freestyle battles both street and organized.  Flirting with song-writing and composing beats turned out to be a passion for making music and his love for music as a fan only strengthened his interest in investing energy, time and money into his music.  In 2004, DeFakto started Sound Council, which is an entertainment group consisting of S.T.L. (Stress the Lyricist) and himself.  While it is only a two member council, growth is likely as they continue on with their mission of releasing quality music that they themselves enjoy with hopes that others will like it, maintaining creative control all the while.

 

DeFakto and Sound Council have released several independent CD projects already.  The first album release was S.T.L.’s Alright Already!!!  which came out in late 2005.  Early 2006 marked the release of DeFakto’s debut solo album entitled Exactly Write.    Several street compilation mixtapes were released as well under Sound Council in conjunction with Team Brinkz.  DeFakto’s catalogue will build with the releases he has planned in the near to far future.  A promo CD for the northern
Virginia area is already in the works to be distributed soon.  Then he will release an emcee/producer collaborative project entitled The Segment this summer (around the same time as S.T.L.’s  Nerd Rap album), before dropping his second solo album in the winter of 2007.  All of these projects will showcase everything that listeners love about DeFakto’s music – the voice, the wordplay, the sense of humor, the messages and the unique production.  That’s the rundown on DeFakto, Sound Council’s founder.

 

 

 

The NBT Music Columns: DJ Pearlman ‘Inside Independent’

Gee DaveyWelcome to the thoughts and views of some of the artists on The NBT Podcast

We start with DJ Pearlman of the band Gee Davey and his column
Inside Independent

Radio, Radio. Wherefore art thou?

So I’m at an interesting juncture here in my “indie” career. It’s been pointed out to me, and a few moments on google will confirm, that “…so many bands pour their heart and soul, not to mention their money, into a quality CD and then…” And then… And then? Exactly. Enter the radio promoter.

Let me first say a quick “thank you” to all of my family and friends that have every one of my musical products, as you are truly my “audience”. However, I’m pretty sure I’m not going to land a record deal because my sister likes the CD. And even in this day and age of social networking, I doubt I’ll ever “myspace” my way to a gold record. So what do you do? What is the easiest way to reach the widest audience? Well, you could go and play in front of everyone. By all accounts bands like the Goo Goo Dolls, and Train did pretty much just that, but that’s like 10 years of every lame-ass club, and state fair, and whatever else you can find to play. It’s also a lot of time in a mini-van. And, ummm, have you smelled yourself after just one gig? But I digress.

Radio promotion. A few months ago I was contacted by a radio promoter out of Los Angeles, California. Apparently I had submitted a CD to him (I submit them everywhere!) and he was sure he could “run” with one of the songs off our latest CD. I thought, all right, great… run as far as you want… but, alas, the contract. For a spicy fee, he could run a national campaign, and assured me that the song would get enough radio play to get some traction. Being a realist, and a keen observer of the music industry around me, I was not surprised at the “pay to play” aspect of the promoter. I mean, it really is the way things work these days. However, I figured at the very least it was worth looking into. Maybe I should shop around a bit.

Fortunately, for us less-than-beautiful people in the industry, there are some places you can go to get a really unbiased opinion on things for the unsigned/unappreciated among us… (I’ll plug the good people over at cdbaby.com here for doing everything they possibly can to help us out). Through some articles and comment postings, I found another promoter that was quite highly recommended, enough so that it warranted a further inquiry. I checked out his company website, and sent him an email. I got a quick reply, and a request for a CD for him to listen to, which I promptly sent out. After a few more emails back and forth and some phone-tag, I finally got this other promoter on the phone, and not only did he know my material, but he knew it well enough that we could discuss where it should be placed, market-wise. (on a side note, he referred to specific songs by track #, which says to me that not only was he not just reading the tray card, but had spent some time listening either at home or in the car [since all computers and personal devices these days seem to just give you the track name]).

He explained to me some of the ins and outs of his particular trade, and actually let me in on just why we (meaning us lowly musicians) can’t get program directors on the phone or even get our calls returned. Sure, he was peddling his wears as to why radio promoters actually deserve to get paid, and he’s right, they do. For the stuff that they need to do, to get somebody out in the real world, who has no idea who you are, or what you sound like (and generally not even the slightest interest in finding out) to even just listen, and possibly even play your music, they may actually even deserve a medal. Because I tell you what, I’ve been trying to do that for years, and it hasn’t worked yet. Suffice it to say I was impressed.

So. What happened next? Excellent question. That is precisely the point I am at in this little adventure. I’m confident it’s a good idea, and I’m all set to go, I just need to find the money to get it going. Ah, yes, the joys of being an unsigned band.

But hey, by time my next column comes out, we could be on the radio, right?