Each year the GRAMMY Foundation hosts summer camps in Los Angeles, New York and Nashville. While there, high school campers from across the country and beyond have an opportunity to immerse themselves in their area of focus, including audio engineering, songwriting, vocal and instrumental performance, music business, video production, music journalism and electronic music production.
Heavy-hitters such as Rob Knox, GRAMMY-nominated songwriter/producer; Ryan Merchant of indie-pop duo Capital Cities; Kamasi Washington, saxophonist and composer; Joy Williams, GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter; and Nate Yetton, artist manager stopped by this summer’s sessions to share insights on how students can succeed in the music business.
We spent time with two students from GRAMMY Camp Los Angeles, Shilpa Sadagopan and Anthony Richard, Jr., and learned what brought them to GRAMMY Camp, and how their camp experience went.
Shilpa Sadagopan, Vocal Track
With a musical background that starts at the age of three (seriously!), Shilpa came to GRAMMY Camp Los Angeles, hosted at the University of Southern California (USC), with more than a decade of experience as a vocalist under her belt. She had already stretched her vocal skills by dabbling in a little bit of everything, from Indian classical music to opera, pop and jazz, or so she thought…
Shilpa’s GRAMMY Camp Application
After hearing about GRAMMY Camp from a friend, Shilpa decided to apply. Her interest was mainly in the vocal track, so the application had two parts: a spoken video essay and a video of her singing. After judges learned of her longtime dedication to her career as a vocalist and witnessed her performances of “Summertime,” a jazz standard, and “Falling” by Alicia Keys, they decided to accept her.
On the night of her senior prom, Shilpa’s mom couldn’t help but text her to share the great news as soon as she found out. “I just thought it was unreal,” Shilpa said. “I was with a bunch of friends, and they were all so happy for me.” A few short weeks later, Shilpa began her journey from her hometown of Houston to Los Angeles with high hopes of advancing her career through networking.
Hitting the Ground Running (er, Singing)
Shilpa’s learning experience began on day one with an open mic night, an event she described as “very humbling.” The event, which allowed students to break into small groups and collaborate with one another to come up with a performance that would showcase each camper’s skills, was an opportunity for Shilpa, who was typically a solo performer, to test her group performance skills. After the show, Shilpa realized that GRAMMY Camp would help her step outside of her comfort zone by performing with others. “I felt lucky to have figured all of this out on the first day,” she said.
Shilpa’s Camp Week Takeaways
As the week progressed, vocalists had the opportunity to perform at a mini concert. Each student was given eights songs of varying genres, which tested their versatility. Shilpa felt empowered by the experience and walked away feeling confident in her ability to stretch her skills even further.
As camp came to a close, Shilpa and the other students on the vocalist track had lunch with the board of the GRAMMY foundation. Due to the small group size, Shilpa had the opportunity to speak 1:1 with Mamie Coleman, supervisor for FOX.
Looking to the future after GRAMMY Camp, Shilpa has taken away a more solidified and defined plan for her career. As she pursues her dreams, she will use the networking and collaborative skills GRAMMY Camp has given her.
Anthony Richard Jr., Video Production Track
With a passion for video production and an education from two art schools (Jefferson High School for Advanced Studies and New Orleans Center for Creative Art), Anthony was repeatedly encouraged by his peers and professors to apply to GRAMMY Camp.
Anthony’s GRAMMY Camp Application
Finally, Anthony, who also happens to have a lifelong dream of attending USC, made the decision to apply. After electing to pursue the video production track, Anthony reviewed all of the videos he had ever made and chose his best two to submit for consideration. Eager to find out whether he would be making his first-ever trip to Los Angeles, Anthony checked the mail nearly every day hoping for a letter. When his acceptance letter arrived, he was beyond excited to hear the good news.
GRAMMY Camp Goals
Anthony had two goals in mind as he departed for GRAMMY Camp: one was to soak up all the video production knowledge he could; the other was to speak with the admissions department at the Cinematic School of Arts at USC. Throughout his journey at GRAMMY Camp, Anthony was able to ghost around the workshops with his camera and shoot anything that looked interesting. He also recorded the open mic night held on the first evening of camp. All this footage was recorded in the interest of creating with other video production campers a final video that would be shown to all campers at the end of the week.
Anthony’s Camp Week Takeaways
Not only did Anthony improve his video skills, but also he was able to connect with producer Rob Knox, who really spoke to him. Rob’s advice to “work smarter while working harder” was just the thing Anthony needed to hear.
The excitement in Anthony’s voice was unmistakable as he recounted his tour of USC, which only amplified his drive to attend as a video production student. “I will make this happen, no matter what,” he said. “I will apply over and over until I get in. I know I will.”
Anthony left GRAMMY Camp understanding the importance of maintaining great professional relationships paired with hard work. His week ended with a round of applause after all campers and counselors watched the sizzle reel that he and the other video production campers had created.
Visit the GRAMMY In The Schools website to learn more about GRAMMY Camp, including the application process. If you know a young person who should apply, please pass it on.
Header image courtesy of The Recording Academy ® WireImage.com, photo by Joshua Blanchard © 2015