The S.O.N.G. Project held its annual showcase titled, “Can you feel my song” at the Detroit School of Arts. Speaking with founder and CEO Carles Whitlow, I learned that “Saving Our Next Generation” or S.O.N.G. is a two week summer camp program including students ranging from ages 8 to 17. Launching in 2015, the organization’s mission is to positively impact the youth of Detroit and surrounding cities through performing arts and mentoring programs. Whitlow and Cofounder Jessica Clements are motivated in helping students with their self-confidence and witnessing the growth of each student throughout the program.
This year, Whitlow challenged the camp to produce a full musical stage production. The catch is that the students were given only two weeks preparation. The production would include lighting, visual graphics, original songs, skits, dance routines and even a drum line. A show of that magnitude usually takes months to prepare. However, the camp took on that challenge head on and conquered it.
The 92 member ensemble shed light on issues that many young people suffer through alone including bullying, low self-esteem and absent fathers. The goal was to raise awareness of these issues and more importantly encourage the youth to recognize their worth and never give up. The show was very entertaining yet moving. I found myself not only amazed by the extraordinary talent displayed on stage, but the amount of courage that the students had to confront such hard issues in front of their families and community leaders. The audience left the show with a new understanding of how home and societal issues effect today’s youth and just how important the arts are in a child’s life.
With the help of sponsors such as Michigan State University, Brian Banks and a host of instructors and volunteers, The S.O.N.G Project has continuously been able to educate and inspire their students. Go to www.thesongproject.org to learn how you can become involved and ways to contribute to the organization.