Funded by ArtReach in 2018, JustOverMusic lead Grassroots Music, a program that engaged youth 15-29 from York South-Weston through artist development and hip-hop music training.
Through this program, core staff, guest speakers, and industry field trips provided over 30 youth with tailored artist development supports and technical training around producing, recording, and sound engineering. Youth were given the space to create empowering personal narratives through music and have their voices heard. The program culminated in an event at The Galeri Recording Studio, where youth were able to perform their songs for family, friends, and community members.
So how did the program start? “JustOverMusic: Grassroots Music is a youth-led initiative that first came together in 2015 through mobilizing friends and family for monthly jam sessions. While these sessions began as an opportunity to bring together folks from different schools and communities to talk and play, it ended up flourishing into something much more. Sessions organically started with a group debrief were we would reflect and discuss the challenges and issues that were affecting us. These discussions ranged from the ever increasing cost of public transportation, to the lack of employment opportunities and resources, to human rights. We quickly discovered that these sessions were a very unique opportunity to bring together a diverse range of musicians and allowed us the space to discuss and express our feelings around these topics through a creative outlet”.
After pooled funds for a community jam space no longer covered the rising costs, they sought to partner with an organization, and eventually were connected with For Youth Initiative (FYI). Through this partnership, their artist development program, Grassroots Music, was born.
Program leads share the benefits youth gained through the 2018/ 2019 ArtReach-funded iteration of Grassroots Music: “Youth who participated in our program learned an array of new skills to further their music and arts related objectives. The program goal was to create an environment where youth who had not yet had the chance to work in a studio could develop the skills to be confident to take their artistry to the next level, and to network and connect with those active in the music scene. Participants had hands-on opportunities to practice all the necessary skills to complete live recordings of musicians, to handle multi-track recording sessions, and to work with multidisciplinary, creative teams to achieve a common goal”.
So what’s next for the program? In 2019, JustOverMusic successfully secured a four-year Ontario Trillium Foundation- Youth Opportunities Fund grant to continue and grow their programming. They note, “This grant will literally allow the program to continue from the foundation set with the ArtReach grant, and evolve it into a cohort-based artist incubator”.