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B.E.S.T. Academy opens state-of-the-art Ric Ross Studio

by Thomas Scott

The students at B.E.S.T. Academy with aspirations to join the music industry now have the opportunity to learn the necessary skills inside the new, state-of-the-art Ric Ross Studio on campus.

Through its partnership with 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the Music Education Group (MEG), B.E.S.T. Academy now has a fully functional recording studio equipped with brand new equipment for the students.

“This music studio, in addition to what they were doing before, will allow the students to explore the many facets of the music making industry,” B.E.S.T. Academy business manager TiJuana Kelley said. “At B.E.S.T. Academy, we believe in developing the whole child. We understand and know that it’s more than the reading, writing and arithmetic that’s going to help our young Black boys be competitive in our society.”

“We’re just trying to expose them to everything to let them know that they have a place in this world,” she added. “They have things that they can contribute, but they have to have the skills and exposure in order to do those things.”

100 Black Men of Atlanta has been an APS partner since 1987 and has been offering mentorship programs at B.E.S.T. Academy since 2007. Through the music pathway of development (POD), students interested in a music career are exposed to professionals in the industry, mentorship and opportunities they may have not considered before.

Ray Singer, the director of programs for 100 Black Men of Atlanta, partnered with veteran music industry executive and APS alumnus Ric Ross, who is the founder and CEO of Music Education Group, and six-time Grammy award winner Kuk Harrell to start the music POD in 2012. They introduced students to professionals in the music industry and shared their experience as leaders in the industry, but wanted to do something more impactful for the students on campus.

“This partnership with B.E.S.T. has been an ongoing partnership for many years, but something was missing,” Ross said. “We could come in and talk to the kids about this stuff, but we had to have some application.”

“We found that kids learn best when you can actually touch the equipment,” he added. “We wanted to create this safe space for them to come in and learn. And not only that, but to bring in industry professionals to talk about their careers and just teach them. If this is something they want to do for a career, they’ll be taught by the best people in the industry that can come in and pour into them.”

The Ric Ross Studio provides a space for students to expand their skill set and get early experience working with the same tools used by professionals. Inside the studio are new Apple computers, several microphones, a touch-screen slate board and full podcast system.

“Everything in here is state-of-the-art, top-notch stuff,” Ross said. “Stuff that I went and purchased myself. Anything that you would find in any recording studio in the city, this is the same type of equipment.”

B.E.S.T. Academy junior Aiden Goforth and a few of his classmates in the music POD already have ideas of developing a podcast using the new equipment.

“I was amazed because we’ve never had anything like this before,” Aiden Goforth said with the studio’s new electric guitar strapped over his shoulder. “Now, we have the opportunity to create change.”

Even before the opening of the new studio, interest in the music POD was increasing as the students learned about the different opportunities in the music industry outside of being an artist.

“The PODS have created interest because it exposes them to avenues in music that they didn’t know existed,” B.E.S.T. Academy assistant principal Shannon Williams said. “All the different things you don’t usually hear about in the music game, the POD opens your eyes to that, so it’s the ultimate avenue for exposure.”

Now that the students have access to both the mentorship and the tools of the trade, the next music producer, sound engineer, podcast host or musical artist could be a product of B.E.S.T. Academy’s Ric Ross Studio.

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