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Compton students learn about music industry careers

Music industry executives and professionals formed the Music Unites' Music-Versity career panel at Centennial High School, Dec. 10.

Music Unites music industry career panel executives share experiences at Centennial High School

COMPTON — Students in the Compton Unified School District were all ears as they listened to the experiences of music industry executives and professionals during Music Unites’ Music-Versity Career Panel at Centennial High School, Dec. 10.

ComptonHerald.com | Troy Carter

“I grew up with a single mother, we grew up with not a lot of money in the house. We came from a neighborhood that was much like Compton” – Troy Carter. Photo: LinkedIn

Held in partnership with music education non-profit Music Unites, the event offered more than 500 students in grades 5-12, insight into the career and academic steps needed in order to thrive and succeed in the music business.

The talents of Compton students were heard loud and clear through musical performances by King Elementary School’s Violin Ensemble and Centennial High School’s Jazz Band. Former X-Factor contestant and songwriter John Lindahl also performed a two-song set.

CUSD’s Dr. Jacqueline Sanderlin, and Music Unites’ founder and Executive Director Michelle Edgar moderated the music industry career panel, which featured music executives and professionals including: Songwriter Lindahi, Troy Carter, Atom Factory; Grammy Award-winning Sound Engineer Manny Marroquin, Music Agent Nikki Wheeler of ICM Partners, Harold Owens, senior director of Music Cares, and Aton Ben-Horin, global director of A&R for Warner Music Group.

Carter has worked with artists like the late rapper Notorious B.I.G., jazz artist Kamasi Washington, and pop star Lady Gaga, but he reminded Compton students of his humble beginnings as an ambitious teenager in Philadelphia who wanted a career in the music industry.

“I grew up with a single mother, we grew up with not a lot of money in the house. We came from a neighborhood that was much like Compton,” he said. “There was a guy who inspired me. He started a small record label and I said whatever that guy does is exactly what I want to do, so I started promoting hip-hop concerts as a kid.”

ICM Partners talent agent Nikki Wheeler, who works with artists like Centennial High alum Kendrick Lamar, said it is up to students to decide how successful they want to be.

“You have to be the designer of your own life in terms of how you want to get started in the music business and what career you choose to pursue,” Wheeler said. “I started young. I got a couple bands signed to RCA Records and then I started my own label, Spring Street Records.”

Tenth-grade Centennial Jazz Band saxophone player Jocelyn Gonzales, who dreams of becoming a sound engineer, said she learned a lot from the music industry career panel.

“You have to start off with a mentor and make good connections,” she said. “I also learned that social media is a good way to promote yourself. Musicians use sites like YouTube to share their music and make new connections that can help their career.”

Twelfth-grader Andy Moreira, who plays horn in Centennial’s Jazz Band, said one big thing the panelists left reverberating in his mind is that discipline is the key to success as a musician.

“You have to work towards your goals. It takes a lot of dedication no matter where you want to go. You can’t sit there and expect something to happen if you’re not making moves,” he said. “You really have to work on your talent.”

Compton Herald is a digital news publication providing clear, fair and current news, information and commentary about Compton, the Los Angeles metropolitan area, Los Angeles County, California, and the world.

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