Home Depot Center and CSU Dominguez Hills Partner to Bring Music and Entertainment Symposium to Youth
The death of iconic pop artist Michael Jackson the day before did little to dampen the enthusiasm of attendees of the “Music, Movies and More” Symposium, held on June 26 at the Loker Student Union at California State University, Dominguez Hills. The event, which was co-sponsored by the university and the Home Depot Center Chartiable Foundation, gave high school and college students a glimpse of the music and film industry through panel sessions with industry professionals and artists, as well as some heartfelt advice on how to maintain a “normal” lifestyle while working in an industry that is less than conducive to that.
Recording artist DJ Spinderella, formerly of the all-girl rap group Salt-n-Pepa, moderated a panel titled, “The Future of the Industry,” where participating students submitted questions about getting started in the entertainment business and how to deal with fame and fortune. Artist development expert Karen Lee pointed out to the audience that Jackson’s career was not one to be looked to as “the norm.”
“Fame can be a very destructive thing,” cautioned Lee. “Michael Jackson gave up his life so that we could enjoy his art.”
Chaz Shepherd, PRK Recording Group artist and Broadway performer, said that his definition of success is “getting to the place where I’m happy,” and underscored the need for those in the entertainment business to focus on the inner self along with honing one’s talent and appearance.
“It’s what I do when nobody’s looking that will bear fruit for me when everybody’s paying attention,” he said.
Patrick Stewart, director of special gifts, University Advancement, says that the caliber of the presenters and their voluntary effort to provide a look at the entertainment industry attests to the university’s role in developing the local and national workforce.
“Many of the panelists also made a point to impress upon the students the importance of a quality formal education, and the fact that one of our faculty members and a highly regarded alumnus were featured at different points in the program reinforced the viability of a CSU Dominguez Hills education,” he said. “[Serving] as the location for this type of event helps to make successful professionals more aware of our good works and shows the community and our students we want to do all that we can to promote success.”
The event also provided a chance for aspiring musicians and songwriters to play demo CDs for recording industry professionals. Michael Nixon, a promoter and consultant for Street Marketing, listened and critiqued music by the symposium’s participants, along with composer, artist and producer Clarence McDonald and engineer and producer Lisa Chamblee Hampton.
“I love talking to younger people when they have such drive, determination, and a seeking spirit to want to ... get critiqued in their art form,” he said.
The 30-year veteran of the music industry said that he looks forward to finding new artists who “have a message with their music and give back. It’s got to be something that’s fortifying, that people can really... get some spiritual value from.”
Carroll Wheatley, a recent graduate in communications from the University of Minnesota, came to the demo session with a CD of his original rap music. He said that the symposium was a valuable experience after he was critiqued.
“The experience of [the demo session] alone will help me out in picking out songs for future sessions,” said Wheatley, whose performance name is “C. Wheat.” “Just learning the ins and outs of the business, about publishing and marketing and how to conduct yourself in a demo session. I have a true passion for music and ... this pushes me in the right direction.”
Win Win Global, one of the symposium’s sponsors, awarded scholarships to CSU Dominguez Hills students in the digital media arts department. Gustavo Rodriguez, Deirdre Brinlee, and Jon-Michael Newsom each received $500 from the independent recording label.
The “Music, Movies and More” Symposium was also sponsored by Dave Hampton, Making Music Herstory, and Code 4 Media Group.
George Arasimowicz, dean, College of Arts and Humanities, says the event highlighted the university’s strengths as a learning environment where can students connect with the professions they hope to enter. He also looked forward to the new connections that the departments of music and digital media arts were able to make with the professionals who were introduced to the campus through the symposium.
“Events such as the symposium allow us to highlight the vitality and quality of our media programs. Our students regularly undertake internships at leading media companies as part of the digital media arts program of studies. Through the symposium CSU Dominguez Hills enhanced its reputation as a vital educational center that brings talented people together,” Arasimowicz says.
- Joanie Harmon
Photos above: A panel of recording industry luminaries spoke to aspiring artists, songwriters and engineers during the "Music Technology" session. L-R: David Issac, producer, engineer and artist; Ray Shields, Black Dot Management; and Dave Hampton, Grammy-winning engineer and studio designer.
Students in digital media arts at CSU Dominguez Hills were awarded $500 scholarships by Win Win Global, a sponsor of the symposium. L-R: George Arasimowicz, dean, College of Arts and Humanities; Gustavo Rodriguez, Deirdre Brinlee, DJ Spinderella, and Jon-Michael Newsom
Photos by Joanie Harmon