Students learn about GRAMMY-worthy careers

By Curt Yeomans


Stefanie Jackson, a senior at North Clayton High School, wants to be an actress, but she still wanted to hear a presentation on Wednesday about how she can have a GRAMMY-winning voice.

Jackson was one of 400 students from three school systems who attended a career day event at the Clayton County Performing Arts Center. Performing arts students from the Clayton County, Fulton County and Atlanta school systems learned about the ins and outs of the music business during the annual event, which was put on by The GRAMMY Foundation and the Atlanta Chapter of The Recording Academy.

For Jackson, though, the event's vocal workshop allowed her to figure out ways to help her acting career grow by preserving her voice.

"I learned I no longer like milk," said Jackson, referring to vocal producer Jan Smith's assertion that consuming dairy products, and smoking are some of the ways a person can do harm to his or her voice.

The goal of the event's organizers was to encourage young people to gain a thorough understanding of what it takes to succeed in the music industry. Singers, such as Angie Stone and Novel, participated in the Career Day program so they could share their experiences with the pupils.

"They need to learn the realities of this business, and not just have the stars in their eyes," said Michele Rhea Caplinger, the senior executive director of the Atlanta Chapter of The Recording Academy. "We try to bring people who have been successful in this industry to share their advice. This also exposes them [the students] to all of the support jobs, which make this industry tick."

The students were treated to performances by Stone and Novel at the end of the career day event. Both entertainers managed to quickly get the young people on their feet, clapping their hands to the beat and taking pictures with the cameras on their cell phones. Novel even got many of the female students to rush to the edge of the stage to touch the singer.

Stone used her performance to offer a bit of advice to the students, though.

"This business can be so treacherous, but it can also be really rewarding, if you work hard, and know what you're doing," she said.

Lina Chhem, a senior at North Clayton High School, said the importance of being familiar with studio equipment is one of the things she picked up by participating in the event.

"Knowledge about studio equipment is important because they [music producers] can take advantage of you if you don't know what they are talking about," Chhem said. "They can tell you something will make your voice sound good when it really doesn't."

Jackson said she enjoyed the career day, even if her goal is to pursue a career in acting. "I liked how they were one-on-one with us, instead of talking at us," she said. "They seemed very real with us, like they didn't have to put on this act to connect with us."

Caplinger said Jackson may have gotten more out of the event beyond how to have a better voice for her acting career, though.

"You never know, we've seen a lot of actors turn into singers," Caplinger said.