We are indeed in the season of giving, and Memphis‘ many art institutions continue to provide! With a growing number of businesses and arts organizations catering to the youth, the Bluff City will never lack world-class talent!From dance to theater to music, here are three art institutes that are working dilligently to support the next generation of exceptional artists from Memphis.
Started by Chrysti Chandler, a Memphis native with a love for the arts, the YAG has blossomed into one of the most prominent arts organizations in the city. Children between the ages of 3 and 17 are taught the ins-and-outs of singing, acting, and dancing from renown teachers and performers. The program has been running for 31 years and has flourished tremendously over the course of those years. Through numerous musical theater shows such as “The Lion King” and “The Wiz,” several dance recitals, and various trips out of the city, YAG studentsare able to gain the experience of someone several years their senior. Many of these students have gone on to receive massive opportunities in the music industry, such as singing competition shows like “The Four” and “American Idol,” dancing competition shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” and even entertainment opportunities in the theater industry. Two of their many successful alumni are Charles Streeter and Evvie McKinney. Former YAG student Charles Streeter has toured with artists like Chaka Khan, J.Lo , and Tori Kelly, while McKinney has charted a very successful musical career. Very soon, the students will be performing the musical “F.A.M.E,” which is an excellent opportunity to catch the next generation of local stars before their big break.
Musical theaters for youth can be notoriously hard to find in the city, but when you do find them, they are amongst the best in the country! The Memphis Youth Musical Theater program continues to develop students through the love of expression through the many plays and performances that they hold annually. Creatives between the ages of 2 and 18 are not only given the opportunity to put on shows, but they are also offered classes, workshops, and many other artistic development events. Youth are regularly receiving vocal training and other assistance that will develop them in the long run. Versatility is very important and the theater explores many different forms of dance and musical selections, ranging from jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, lyrical, and even French and Russian ballet. They have performed musicals such as “Annie,” “The Wizard of Oz,” “Matilda,” and “High School Musical.” That’s not to mention their annual performance of “The Nutcracker,” which has become a holiday tradition for many Memphians.
The Memphis Music Initiative isn’t your typical arts program! They offer professional development as well as paid internships to students participating, while also giving students a true glimpse of what a creative life is really like. MMI believes that our city can often have barriers and limits when it comes to youth success and they are choosing to make an impact to lessen that burden. Through exposure to award-winning producers in the city, studios that are assisting artists with their growth, and conversations with other creatives who love to engage in the arts, students are gathering real networking skills in this program. They are also doing creative things on their own, such as creating music videos and original music. Not only are students involved throughout the summer with this program, but they are also welcome to stay involved throughout the year in their after-school program as well. Students have regularly met with industry professionals, such as hip-hop legends 8Ball & MJG and producer IMAKEMADBEATS, who have been willing to share some of their hard-earned wisdom. MMI students also recently engaged in a partnership with Hershey, where students were able to celebrate Juneteenth and elevate Black voices. Last but not least, this program also operates with the goal of ensuring the mental health of its students as well. If you or any other young person in your life is looking for an early opportunity to learn the ropes of the music industry, MMI is for you!
Each of these programs are making beautiful contributions to the Memphis music scene and we hope that you would continue to support them so they can continue to be a light for our city!
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