We Amplify Voices Bring The Youth of Columbus Together For “Stay Safe” Quarantine Album
There’s this incredible air of isolation throughout these tracks resonating from each artist, a processing of a brave new world ahead of them and the concerns that come along with lock downs, social change, and instability to their routines. Teens are especially vulnerable to dramatic changes, and making sure each young artist was getting through the struggle of 2020 was the most important mission to WAV throughout the process. And that care, that struggle, that striving, comes through brilliantly on each track, culminating in an extraordinary collection of timeless tracks that will serve as a bench stone for one of the most trying times in our history.
We Amplify Voices is a Columbus non-profit that connects young, middle school age, underserved kids with professional music producers. It’s a fantastic program that gets to the heart of what independent music is all about; passion, growth, and that feeling of raw talent exploding exponentially into something professional and wisdom filled in a short period of time. That’s what’s so exciting about young kids making music, their potential, and the recognition of reaching each next step to get closer and closer to realizing and manifesting it. And that’s what WAV’s recent “Stay Safe” quarantine album is all about.
A little back story for what makes this album so different and special; “Stay Safe” was recorded this past summer remotely. There’s this incredible air of isolation throughout these tracks resonating from each artist, a processing of a brave new world ahead of them and the concerns that come along with lock downs, social change, and instability to their routines. Teens are especially vulnerable to dramatic changes, and making sure each young artist was getting through the struggle of 2020 was the most important mission to WAV throughout the process. And that care, that struggle, that striving, comes through brilliantly on each track, culminating in an extraordinary collection of timeless tracks that will serve as a bench stone for one of the most trying times in our history.
Below is our review of the album, and in what we thought would be the best way to feature these young talents, a track by track style run through of what makes each song so special, meaningful, and important:
1. FLIP THE SWITCH: Stephanie Amber, Katherine Barlay, Brady Boeckman, Chloye Stephenson // Touching vocals on this track really get at the heart of what the youth must be going through during this pandemic. Lines like “I’m feeling isolated”, “what will happen next? will the sun still shine? can I hit rewind?” cut to the quick, and ask us questions we don’t have direct answers for. “But can we get through this, just flip the switch?” The beat throughout is fantastic on this, a big stomping kick drives the whole track with bravado and urgency.
2. ALL OF ME: Kashis Keyz, Homeless Families Foundation, Yogi Split // This track garnered a little bit of music industry attention when it was organically picked up but a Spotify playlist earlier this fall, and it’s obvious why. The flow on this track is incredible, genuinely rivaling Kanye’s brash delivery in the main verse. The questioning of police misconduct is stark and harrowing for such young artists to take on in such a meaningful way. Incredibly good poppy production ties all these elements together into a fantastic listen.
3. I’M COMING UP: Soto, Aims, Effee // An anthem written about what true success is, this track was actually recorded in person on the infamous Friday March 13th, the official start of the pandemic and lockdowns to many of us. The youth have a strength that society hasn’t quite seen yet, and that comes through in this song’s meaning. Resilience, authenticity, purpose, that’s what success means to these young musicians, this is their anthem to reject the more material aspects of success they’ve grown up with. Beautiful vocals and effects intermingle and twist to keep this listen fresh with every moment.
4. STAY SAFE: Kashis Keyz, Eckerd // Almost like a classic hype-trap track but with a heavy and uplifting twist. The phrase “Stay Safe” has such a deep connotation that especially the youth are left to wrestle with; their physical health with the virus, bullying and physical safety, race struggles and strife.. these are things pressed up on the youth five times more than their elders ever experienced. Yeezus style production comes out on this track, blistering beats, triplets and blasts of emotion galore, this is a stand out track.
5. PUT OUT THE FIRE: Stephanie Amber, Wedgewood Middle School // “Put Out The Fire” is pop perfection. Stephanie’s voice is beautiful and professional, with a standout chorus. “Punching holes in the wall” is definitely how we’ve all been feeling this year, this track is charged and emotional, yet strong and poised. Pieced together virtually, this was a great and encouraging experience for all the kids involved, able to see their creation come to life after long stalls during quarantine kept them at bay.
6. THE BEST OF MY LIFE: Nicholas D’Andrea, Bryce Rishel, Moira Fellrath, Jaedin Edwards, Kaiden Shaw, Luca Mustacchio // Nick D’Andrea is no stranger to LSPR, his voice is a pillar of wisdom on this track. The production and added parts by the students (written about what you would do if you were faced with a near death experience) are a fantastic blend of 90’s Sugar Ray meets Third Eye Blind ear candy, making this the sunniest and most uplifting track on the record. You can really hear the youthful optimism shine through.
7. Can I Be Happy: Kashis Keyz, Shamere Griffin, CCA // The beat is bombastic and the premise is simple; “Can I be happy?”. “Am I enough?” is a constant thread through the mind of a teenager, but especially in these tough times one can only imagine what that existential question really means. The flow is near-perfect, it has that great blend of flexible yet tight, and the accent screams at the end are a bright spot on the entire record.
8. Tik Tok: Eric Rollin, SMART Summer Program // I love the almost tongue in cheek nod that, well, Tik Tok definitely consumes the mind of the youth.. but that is certainly not at all what defines the youth. Covering themes of civil unrest, racism, covid, and all other topics-du-jour of 2020, Tik Tok uncovers a much deeper thread than one might see on the surface level when they look at Gen Z. The beat and accompanying track can best be described as powerful, yet beautiful.
9. We Are Warriors: Georgie Barrie, Stephanie Amber, Sarob, Wedgewood Middle School // If the darker and heavier tracks on the album are “anti-2020” anthems, “We Are Warriors” may be the true 2020 anthem. “Together we can make it through” rings out from a young group here who have no choice but to make it through. Noteworthy on this are a fantastic bridge leading into a tastefully, yet almost over the top, guitar solo, this track gets high marks.
10. Quiet The Noise: Kashis Keyz, Shamere Griffin, Homeless Families Foundation // Written all about secrets, and letting go of what holds you back, “Quiet The Noise” is atmospheric and personal, aggressive yet trusting. The acoustic guitar hook at the top is fantastically catchy, the production throughout this one is stand out.
11. Never Change Me: George Barrie, Amber Knicole, Jermiah Thayer, Zyion Sanderson, Willow Davoust, Jamison McCuen, Yesh Cosme, Ezra Rieppel // Possibly the most energetic flow from the jump, this track stands out right away. There’s a great harmonic motion to the chorus, a powerful bridge, and perfectly placed background guitars, this is incredibly hyped up. “I’m not gonna hide any longer, I’m gonna let myself show” soars over the chorus with confidence.
12. No Justice, No Peace: Kashis Keyz, Eckerd // Rounding out the album, this track speaks for itself. The lyrics are open, sharing, and confessional, the beat and instruments are heartfelt, lamenting, and big. A perfect way to wrap things up as engaging as it started.