Youth Empowerment Health Fair   April 22nd, 2010



For more information, call (212) 749-3656, Ext. 3106

R.I.P. Guru    April 20th, 2010


Groundbreaking rapper and Gang Starr co-founder Guru died yesterday, a month after the cancer-stricken artist collapsed and went into a coma, according to a report on

The rapper, whose real name is Keith Elam, had been suffering from cancer for over a year. The report quoted a statement from Guru’s camp that inferred the cause was complications from cancer.

“According to (producer) Solar, Guru suffered from the malicious illness for over a year and after numerous special treatments under the supervision of medical specialists failed, the legendary MC succumbed to the disease. Guru always tried to keep this harrowing diagnosis in private but in early 2010 he had to admit himself to hospital due to serious effects caused by the disease.”

Guru formed the group with DJ Premier in 1985, and they put out six albums, including the well-received “Daily Operation” and “Moment of Truth.”

OPEN AUDITION for the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night  April 8th, 2010


The audition is open for dancers, comedians, musicians, singers, spoken word artists and other performers of ALL ages and styles, granting a chance to be discovered on the same stage that launched the careers of greats like Ella Fitzgerald, Michael Jackson, Lauryn Hill and Fat Joe.

There are cash prizes at the end of each evening’s Amateur Night competition and the Super-Top Dog winner (Best Amateur Act of the Year) wins a cash prize of $10,000!

Each contestant will have up to 90 seconds to audition. We will NOT have a band in house. Singers can bring a track or sing a cappella. Musicians should bring their own instruments. Dancers should bring a cassette or CD for their performance. All auditions should be in good taste and with no profanity.

Date: Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time: 10:00AM-2:00PM.

Where: The Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th Street, NYC.

Costs: Free. Auditions are on a first come, first seen basis. Only the first 300 acts will be seen.

More info: or 212-531-5370.

For our contests, the Apollo defines an “amateur” as anyone who doesn’t have a contract with a major label, studio, or dance program.

High School for Recording Arts gives students chance at Hip-Hop career   April 1st, 2010


David Ellis,  the founder of High School for Recording Arts in St. Paul, walked into the lunchroom fashionably late, chomping on a bag of Doritos as he surveyed the crowd. Two students had just started rapping. By the time the chorus hit, a mob of fans rushed the stage for a chance to freestyle a verse. “Do you see the joy in these kids?” Ellis says. “They’ve got relief up there. Music is saving their lives.”

Ellis wandered through the rows of tables, greeting students with handshakes and hugs.”When politicians talk about the achievement gap, they are talking about these kids,” Ellis says. “They’re pushing them out of traditional schools to better their numbers, and here we are just trying to prove these kids deserve an education. You’re not closing the gap; you’re hiding it.”

Ellis started his own private recording studio in downtown St. Paul in 1994. A former Paisley Park Studio producer, Ellis split off on his own when Prince broke his contract with Warner Brothers. Teens started hanging out in the skyway near his studio during the week, bugging him for time to record. “Shouldn’t you be in school?” Ellis would ask. “Nah man, we don’t go to school anymore,” came the inevitable response. “We just want to rap.”

When Ellis finally gave the kids a chance to perform, he was shocked: They had raw musical talent. So Ellis founded the school. He envisioned a place for students who had dropped out or been kicked out of traditional schools. “I saw a need in the community,” Ellis says. “These students had been pushed out, suppressed, and depressed. They needed positive relationships with adults.”

hrsa1High School for Recording Arts has morphed into a project-based charter school where students take traditional classes and work on independent assignments to earn their high school credits. The reward for finishing early is access to two professional studios to record their original music. The school’s 225-student population represents a hodgepodge of problems. School administrators call them “overage and under-credited,” but that doesn’t begin to account for all that they are up against. Ellis says the school represents “every child left behind.”

Nine in 10 of its students live in poverty. They typically arrive at 17 years old and at least one year behind in credits. Their academic ability is usually at least two years below grade level in basic skills; many possess only elementary-level knowledge in at least one subject. By the time they get to Hip-Hop High, 39 percent have been kicked out of their previous school and nearly two-thirds have been involved in the criminal justice system. Half don’t live with a parent or legal guardian and more than 70 percent are involved in gangs. About 20 percent of the female students are teen moms and nearly half of the male students are already fathers.

“We’re dealing with kids no one else is engaging right now,” says Paula Anderson, the school’s education director and English teacher. Yet the Minnesota Department of Education is blind to those challenges. The school is judged on its four-year on-time graduation rate, which last year was below 20 percent, one of the worst in the state. Anderson says it would be impossible for the school to achieve a high on-time graduation rate with students who are so far behind. “Traditional schools push their ‘bad’ students out to schools like us,” Anderson says. “What would have been a ‘drop’ is now a ‘transfer’ on their record.”

Tony Simmons, the school’s director of development, watches students come in as hardened, uninterested teens, but they light up when they see the studios, he says. Before long, the students are engaged in their core courses and getting back on track to graduate. “What traditional schools don’t realize is that creativity is important to academics,” he says. “We take the core essence of who they are, and their energy in school is fed around their creativity.”

Phil Wenden, the school’s studio director, says he watches students turn their lives around through the freedom to be creative through music. “These studios allow them to express themselves and not act it out in a violent or physical way,” Winden says. “They want a chance to be in the spotlight and be heard, and once they know they are being heard, that reinforces their purpose to think about their future.”

To read full article click here.