Musical Youth Ready To Take Center Stage At Guthrie Green

Garrett Powders, News on 6

Since February, a youth Tulsa sound has been taking place at downtown Tulsa's Woody Guthrie Center. A group of students have been learning the ins and outs of the music industry, and on May 31 they graduate on the Guthrie Green stage.

Usually at a concert it's the audience that walks away with stories to tell, but this time it's the young group of musicians that will walk away with stories to remember.

Zach Johnson, a 15-year-old bassist who's involved with the Youth Rocks Music Program, said he's excited to perform on stage.

"I'm nervous just because I invited people, so there's something at stake there, but I'm confident I'll be able to perform," he said.

In the months of classes, Johnson and the other students have learned several aspects of music - including writing, recording and performing original songs. A process Johnson said wasn't too difficult once the ball got rolling.

2/10/2015 Related Story: 'Youth Tulsa Sound' Forming After School At Woody Guthrie Center

"We sat down as a group and talked about what we wanted to write about and then we would go and add music to that. So we started adding bass and drums and then it just kinda developed over time into a full song," he said.

Sunday the three bands take the stage to perform their original songs, 13-year-old singer, Geni Gallant, said she's ready.

"I'm pretty excited, because, to me, every performance is another opportunity to learn," she said.

The students aren't the only ones taking something away from the program. Their instructor, local musician Cody Clinton, said it's reminded him why he got into the music business.

"It's very easy, especially in today's music industry, when you've been at it as long as I have, to get a bit jaded about the whole thing. The program has reminded me of the joyful side of making and sharing music. It has been a real inspiration," he said.

Clinton said he's looking forward to their first performance with a "twisted excitement."

"Just watching them be nervous," he said with a laugh. "Seems kinda twisted I know, but I remember the crazy buzz I got from my first shows back when I was only 14 or 15 years old."

Clinton said the growth he's seen from the students over the past several months has been fantastic.

"I've had some experienced students hone their craft and learn how to meld with their other bandmates," Clinton said. "I've also had a few students that weren't all that great at their instruments when they showed up for the program, but, by teaching them how sometimes a part that seems very simple and small can contribute to a song, I've watched them improve greatly."

That improvement and growth have some of the students thinking about new options for their future.

"For me, since I dance, I've always viewed that as more of what I might do professionally. But this, along with the summer camp, has opened my eyes to that, 'well, I can sing and dance,'" Gallant said.

The concert is free and starts at 2:30 Sunday afternoon on the Guthrie Green stage.

A summer program is being held in June, and if you'd like to learn more you can visit the Woody Guthrie Center's website.