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Lockdown Not Stopping Charity Help Disengaged Young People Record Music

Having access to Zoom, a microphone and decent WiFi connection is all the mentors and mentees of the Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa need to record original music during the country’s lockdown.

CTOA founder and CEO Marcus Powell knows about the power of music. He is a member of Blindspott and City of Souls.

Nothing gets in the way of helping disengaged young people record music for Auckland outreach programme and not-for-profit charity Crescendo Trust of Aotearoa (CTOA) – not even our current need for social distancing.

The charity was established in 2012 by Marcus Powell, a member of award-winning bands Blindspott and City of Souls.

He developed the programme to nurture, empower and give lifelong skills through mentoring, personal development, and training in music, film and photography to disengaged young people and is a way of helping them back into education. The programme provides mentoring in areas such as song-writing, beat-making, arrangement, production, recording, studio time, instruments, microphone knowledge, stage presence, photography and live act.

While the chance to perform live is on ice for the mentees right now, the talented lot can still record from the safety of their bubble. CTOA mentor and educator Dave Atai, a Nesian Mystik member and music producer, has been working in exactly this way since lockdown.

“Dave can control the sound levels at his end, while the mentee performs on the other end of the Zoom call. Through Zoom, he has the ability to allow the mentee to adjust their own levels and complete their mixing. All they need is a microphone and decent WiFi connection,” Marcus explains.

“Dave and CTOA mentee Keegan Tunks, AKA Velveteen Shakes, recorded a song through Zoom called What it is to fall apart. The emerging artists are so inspired and excited by the transformative power of music they don’t want to wait to get out of lockdown to record.”

Dave adds Keegan Tunks is velveteen smooth and the song will have listeners shaking their bodies.

“Combining 70’s funk grooves with modern hip-hop production, neo-soul sensibilities and youthful vulnerability packaged with dynamic live showmanship, Keegan Tunks, AKA Velveteen Shakes, weaves a colourful sonic tapestry that is bound to drag listeners by their ears right to the dancefloor.”

CTOA mentee Keegan Tunks, AKA Velveteen Shakes.

To date, CTOA has worked with more than 2,300 young people across seven hubs throughout Auckland to get them back into further education, training and employment.

Among them are Auckland rap duo Church (Elijah Manu) and AP (Albert Purcell) who recorded their debut album Thorough Bread last year. The pair’s single Ready or Not was the most shazamed song in the country prior to its release, and DJ Jaz Supernova played it on the UK’s BBC Radio 1xtra.

The trust enjoys strong collaborative partnerships with high schools, tertiary institutions, government agencies and other not-for-profit organisations.

“The technology allows us to stay connected and do remote educating and mentoring of the CTOA emerging artists. It’s quite extraordinary how quickly we worked and how quickly the technology adapted to suit our needs. This has given us the opportunity to help more young people around the country as we can now work with anyone at any time,” Marcus says.

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