In December 2021, OU@DIME students presented “Playing It Forward,” a hybrid concert benefiting the Detroit Impact Center, a nonprofit that works with westside Detroit youth to teach, mentor, guide, motivate and encourage them. The event raised over $1500 for the DIC.
The concert was presented in-person and via Zoom at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 at The Underground, Detroit (located at 1265 Griswold Street) — was developed by students in the music industry workshop project class who were tasked with conceptualizing a project and working together in a group to complete the specified and realistic project during the fall semester.
“This class is all about hands-on learning with students getting real-life music industry experience in planning, promoting, prepping, and executing the event,” said Drew Schultz, OU@DIME faculty member. “It’s the best way for students to learn and experience what it’s like to work in the music industry.”
OU and DIME Detroit partnered in 2020 to provide Bachelor of Arts degrees in music performance, songwriting, music production and music industry studies to students wanting to pursue a career in commercial music.
“As a first year OU/DIME student, I wasn’t sure what to expect,” said Music Industry Workshop Project student Sophia (Pixie) Gabriel. “Being a songwriting major, I haven’t learned too much about putting on events and I’ve always seen it as a weakness. Drew threw us right into planning, we took it step by step, and I feel like I’ve already learned so much that I can use in my musical career. I’ve learned that consistency in promotion is key, as well as variety in how you communicate with your audience.”
Guitar student Jay Racey said that “before taking this class, putting together an event like this would have been overwhelming. The collaborative aspect of our student group has made the process seem more doable. I’ve never put together anything like this, so figuring out all of the steps we need to take, one by one and in advance, has made it a lot less intimidating.”
“Being fairly new to the music scene, this event is something that I’ve only ever dreamed of working on” said freshman Music Industry Studies student, Neisa Moumdjian. “The MIWP class and event planning process has opened my eyes to the wonders of working in the music industry and collaboration. Being a part of an event that is for such an amazing cause is truly inspiring.”
The “Playing It Forward” hybrid benefit concert included acoustic/MTV Unplugged-style performances from the artists involved.
In addition to students Riley Grant and Jahleel Hunley from the Detroit Impact Center, the concert featured a varied list of acts from Detroit and Colorado, including pianist, singer and songwriter Delaney Natke; MC / Producer and DIME-Detroit alumna Frankie P.; Jazz-inflected dreamy Pop group Fun Machine; rock band Alavon Black; pop-punk band Killing Pixies, and alt-rock/hickpop band The Beekeepers.
“It is an exciting time for Detroit Impact as we are celebrating thirty years of providing these programs and services to the community,” said DIC founder Calvin Colbert, a songwriter in his own right who worked in the 70s with Motown / Westbound Records vocal group The Fantastic Four. “Collaborating with Oakland University and DIME-Detroit is an opportunity for us to expand. Although our mission statement specifies the west side of Detroit, our aim truly is without boundaries as we are looking to tap into the life of any young person who wants an opportunity to make a difference. Our interests are aligned with the students in this class and ‘Playing it Forward; creating sustainability into our future, stabilizing our community centers and providing opportunities to expand the horizons of our young people. We want to encourage everyone to support by logging into the virtual event or attending in person.”
Artists performed via Zoom from all over the country, as well as live at DIME’s, Underground Detroit, a live music venue. In-person audience members will also saw live-streamed performers projected onstage, and audience members attended via Zoom saw the live acts streamed from the Underground stage.
In the spirit of the holidays, the theme of the event was gratitude; each artist performed a song featuring a message of thankfulness and told a relevant story from their own career so far.