Pacifican and professional drummer Jason Wall is an active recording artist, music producer and educator. He has worked with such artists as All-4-One, Doctor Fink, David Hasselhoff and Morris "Mo" Pleasure. Wall's drumming has also been featured on various television shows including: MTV Road Rules and VH1 Old Skool.
In 2012, Wall and Jean McCloskey co-founded the nonprofit record label, Future Youth Records (FYR), which is dedicated to helping youth ages 12 through 17 write and release original music. Wall founded FYR because he is frustrated with the direction of record labels and the "business" of music.
"You can't possibly further the 'art' of recorded music, if music is treated like a Wall Street commodity," Wall said.
Wall also laments the gradual disappearance of music being used to raise awareness for issues.
"Our number one purpose as a label is to get the kids to use the songs they write to help others, or to give those in need a voice," Wall said. "We teach kids about the process of songwriting, production and engineering, under the guidance of top music veterans. We take these kids right into the studio and help them record their music."
Recently Mission Girls Services partnered with FYR and the results were powerful. Mission Girls Services (MGS) is a gender specific program that strives to empower young women of color to achieve academically and become agents of change in the community. It operates out of Mission Neighborhood Centers, Inc. in San Francisco and serves girls from ages 8 through 18. It was founded 25 years ago.
"There was a surge in teen pregnancy among latina girls in the Mission District," said Susana Rojas, Girls Services Director. "A group of professional latina women in the Mission got together and founded Mission Girls where it has operated since."
The nonprofit provides many strategies for personal life-long success in the lives of these girls which includes an afterschool program for girls in third grade through eighth grade which focuses on empowerment, leadership development, academic support, diversity training and relevant programming. For middle and high school girls the focus is on violence prevention and health education. There is also diversion component for MGS's Young Queens on the Rise group which serves girls at risk and in risk. These girls have high risk factors and behaviors that could land them in the juvenile system or already has landed them in the system.
"The goal is to help our girls avoid falling into their risk factors," Rojas said.
Recently nine girls signed on with FYR. It was a 16-week course.
"The girls got to meet professionals in the field," Rojas said. "They learned how to write lyrics and make their own beats. They learned about engineering and the music business. They recorded two songs."
"Their first song was about their own love lost experiences," Rojas continued. "The second was an empowering song. They spoke about some of the pain they had experienced in their lives, some of the things that landed them in trouble and how they made it through those times and are rising up. Some of the things they talked about were very deep and hard — like suicide thoughts and family problems."
Rojas definitely saw changes in the girls who worked with FYR.
"They became more confident and learned to express their feelings in a positive way," Rojas said. "The girls felt comfortable, like they belonged in a professional studio and that if they want to, they can have a career in music."
FYR plans to launch 8-week recording programs along the Coast and the Peninsula, where top music industry professionals will help kids write and record original music. The kids will make their final "master" recordings inside of Studio Trilogy — a Bay Area professional recording studio where a number of well-known artists including Kanye West, Lady Gaga and George Winston also record. Completed songs will be placed onto a program CD, which will be distributed locally and sold online. The music makers will vote on a local charity to donate half of their CD's proceeds. The other half will go to FYR to help run future programs.
"Besides providing youth with a quality music program," Wall said, "we are providing them with the opportunity to use music as a way to become active in their own communities, become aware of those in need around them and to use their music as a way of helping them."
Jean Bartlett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.