DIME has an amazing staff and faculty who are immersed in the music industry and teaching the next generation of musicians, songwriters, and music entrepreneurs here in downtown Detroit. We sat down with our Head of Songwriting, Antea Shelton, to ask her some questions about her career, and her experience teaching at DIME Detroit.
What first inspired you to pursue music?
My father is a singer. So, it’s definitely in my bloodline. When my older sister was born, he started doing two-part harmony with her, and then when I came along we started doing three-part harmony; then when my younger sister, Anesha, came along the three of us sang. It just naturally progressed after that, because we discovered that we were actually pretty good, because our dad really trained us to sing and we sang in church too.
When did you know you could write songs?
I was a story writer as a kid. So, I just liked writing very weird and super visual creative stories. And, a lot of the times the stories would rhyme, so it was like poetry. My dad saw some of this stuff, and started to explain that the money in the music industry was in songwriting. So, I tried it and it worked.
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I first became a teacher when I was studying voice in college; it grew from my desire to help my friends who were having voice problems. I had a lot of vocal issues, because of allergies and poor vocal maintenance, and general bad habits (i.e., smoking). In going to voice therapy, I was able to get better and then I started to show my friends what to do and not to do. And then all of a sudden I realized that I loved helping people with the experiences that I had. I just enjoyed it.
Is that what still motivates you to teach today?
Absolutely! 100%! To take everything that I’ve learned about singing, songwriting, and the music industry and to be able to take fresh young songwriters and singers who have all these dreams and aspirations and to show them what I did, and to show them the ropes, it really keeps that fire burning. It’s really fulfilling to see. It’s like watering a plant. You nurture it, and all of a sudden it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen.
What do you like most about teaching at DIME?
I like the culture of DIME. These are students who may not have gone to a traditional college and we are able to offer them a way into the music industry that is an alternative to classical music, opera, or orchestral music. It’s the vibe of the place. These kids are not just shooting in the dark and hoping that maybe someday something will happen. DIME offers real-life opportunities for its students and graduates to get into the music industry.
Have you seen a lot of growth in your students?
Yes, from the first graduating class this past summer, for example, I have seen a lot of development of these students. I see some of them forming bands, and see them become my colleagues submitting songs and doing co-writes. I’ve watched them put into practice the things that I’ve taught them, and it’s working for them, and they are actually starting to make a living in the music industry. It’s amazing, it really is!
What are some things that you do outside of DIME that filter back into the classroom?
My work with A-Plus (my songwriting duo) to fulfill our contract with Universal Publishing Group definitely makes its way into the classroom. As songwriters, Anesha and I are working in TV and film as well as releasing an album on Original 1265 Recordings. Because of stuff like this, I can relay the real-life ins and outs of the industry back to my students. I can relay our struggles and victories in the music industry. It’s not something that happened 15 years ago. It’s literally like: I’m just getting off a plane, running into class on Monday and now I have a story to tell my students about what happened to me over the weekend. So, it’s a continuous cycle of: as I learn and grow and achieve I bring it back to the classroom week to week.
What’s one of your proudest moments as a teacher at DIME?
The first graduating class would definitely have to be my proudest moment. We often get caught up in the school year, running around getting students ready;
“…but to see them at their final performance as equals in the music industry, as people who actually can do this and can thrive… I felt like it was, by far, one of my biggest accomplishments as a teacher.”
To see these young artists come in as freshman and then be able to perform on this level was great. And, I’m hard to move performance-wise. But, their final performance moved me to the point of crying so much that I couldn’t even speak. I thought, “oh this is good. This means something.” I was just proud and amazed, because you don’t really notice the growth in the plant until you turn on the lights and admire it. And, that is what that moment was for me. It was amazing to see students become full-grown artists, and to know I played a part in it.
Anything else you want to add about your experience at DIME over the last 4 years?
DIME has been fantastic. DIME has changed me as a person, far beyond music, songwriting, and artistry. Being in a position to help rear singers and songwriters has really helped me to also learn something about myself. I have also been exposed to what music and pop culture are now. I’m really looking forward to the years to come at DIME.
If you are interested in learning more about the Songwriting program, check out this page! Then, get in touch with us to schedule an audition for Spring or Fall 2018.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org , or Call: 313-223-1600