This week, some Atlanta-area teen musicians got the opportunity of a lifetime: to perform with rapper T.I. on a national platform. Seven young artists have been selected to perform with the Atlanta rapper, actor and philanthropist for the popular NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert.
The teens are all part of the Atlanta Music Project, which provides intensive, tuition-free music education for under-served youth right in their neighborhood.
Before flying to Washington, D.C. for the performance, the teens had the chance to meet and rehearse with T.I., who explained the importance of giving back to his community.
“Here in Atlanta, the community that I know the best, that is near and dear to my heart, it’s important that we provide ways for the next generation to continue to build, shape and cultivate their dreams,” he said.
One of the teens performing with T.I. was 16-year-old violist Nyasjah Brooks, and she’s thankful for both the opportunity and the encouragement T.I. gave the young musicians.
“It’s not nothing like we haven’t heard before but, coming from him, it just made me want to go more in life, do more in life, with my instrument,” Brooks said.
Dantes Rameau, executive director and founder of the Atlanta Music Project, was pleased to hear that reaction from Brooks.
“When I hear something like that from one of our students, what goes through my mind is we’re achieving our mission,” Rameau said. “Our mission is not artistic. Our mission is really about empowering the youth that we serve to realize their own possibilities. To realize that, if they are given the chance and they seize it through hard work, through dedication and delayed gratification, they can do big things in life.”
“If she understands that,” he added, “then we’ve done our job.”
The other students performing include 14-year-old violinist Lailah Carter, 14-year-old cellist Brent Cameron, 16-year-old violinists Landon Wilkins and Nehemiah Wiggins, 16-year-old trombonist Corey Jones, and 17-year-old violinist Ashley Gibson.
The group recorded with NPR on Thursday in Washington D.C. You can check out the video soon on npr.org/music.