Singer Aloe Blacc worked with children from Compton’s Centennial High School to record a custom rendition of his hit “Wake Me Up,” in tribute to the class of 2020. The inspirational virtual performance will be played for all schools and students across Compton, California as their official graduation song. The video features touching footage from pep rallies, football games and Zoom calls that made up their senior year.
This isn’t Blacc’s first connection with the students.
In November, he was previously brought in to speak to classes through Music Unites, a non-profit that provides musical education programs in partnership with school systems in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. Their mission is to empower students through the arts.
“With over a decade of history working with the Compton Unified School district, we felt it was essential to do something special for our students during this life-changing moment with graduation. We brought Aloe Blacc to do a Music-Versity at Centennial last fall and saw how transformative his session was with the students as he inspired them through sharing his journey as an artist and shared his powerful music,” says Michelle Edgar, founder & executive director of Music Unites.
“He has been a true ambassador inspiring youth through the power of music and is always looking to push boundaries through innovation and technology. We appreciate his commitment to Music Unites and our students as he is a role model and inspiration to us all,” she continues. “Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and stay-at-home protocols, the class of 2020 missed out on the celebrations that we all remember from our high school graduation and we wanted to provide students with this virtual video we created for them to remember and be a source of inspiration in their journey.”
Music Unites has assembled and developed choirs, and provided instruction in instrumental musicianship, and beat production for years. They sponsor supplemental field trips, curate and produce panels, host workshops, teach master classes and give other special opportunities to students. They have also paired students with mentors and allowed them to learn one-on-one in intimate sessions with experienced professionals including Swizz Beatz and Melanie Fiona.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic they have turned their attention to increasing access to information about the variety of careers in the music industry that exist outside of the booth through their Music-Veristy digital series.
Their Music Unites Summer Virtual Academy will kick off in July.
Their efforts are preparing students for an industry that is inching towards becoming more inclusive on the stage and in the boardroom. Over the last few days, it’s been announced that radio stations and the Recording Academy will lift the marginalizing term “urban” from art and awards categories and publishing companies and record labels are beginning to make meaningful donations to proactive social justice organizations.
“The CUSD has helped us scale across a handful of schools in their district through our after-school music programs and prioritized bringing top-level teaching instruction along with renowned artists and industry leaders to provide students with Music-Versity workshops to provide students once in a lifetime opportunities and inspire the next generation of young leaders,” says Edgar