Several prominent artists and musicians are Denver natives -- Philip Bailey from Earth Wind and Fire went to East. Isaac Slade and Joe King of the Fray were schoolmates at Faith Christian Academy. Denver's First Lady Mary Louise Lee is aiming to continue Denver's notable legacy with "Bringing Back the Arts," an initiative to raise funding for music and arts programs in Denver Public Schools.
With that in mind, the First Lady has launched a music initiative that pits high-school students from Denver Public Schools who play in a band, rap or sing against one another. Contestants will have the chance to compete in a performance at the Bluebird Theater on Sunday, March 18. Prizes include a KBCO Studio C session, a live radio interview, and a performance as the opening act for an upcoming Bluebird concert.
Chuck Morris, president of AEG Live of the Rocky Mountains, is sponsoring the competition. "This is a great town for music," he said yesterday at the Bluebird. "I've been around it for forty years. We have a wonderful First Lady who's helping create the place to give kids a break, and we're happy we can just be a small part of it."
A selection committee composed of local artists reviewed nearly eighty music samples and selected eight finalists to continue on to compete at the Bluebird Theater this weekend. Today at a press conference, Lee announced the eight finalists:
Quentin Berry (John F. Kennedy High School) Cooper Leith (Denver School of the Arts) Austin Patrick (CEC Middle College) Andy Post (East High School) RiZoZaz Jazz Band (Denver School of the Arts) Jordan Rose (South High School) Francesco Tesei (CEC Middle College) Hannah Whitehead (DSST High School - Stapleton)
Lee, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School, says she's forever appreciative of her art classes and art teachers. "I know what the arts did for me, and I know what a difference it made. It helped me to be well balanced."
With Bringing Back the Arts, Lee says she hopes to make arts programs easily accessible to everyone by hiring more arts teachers and creating more after-school arts programs. "There are a lot of families who cannot afford to send their kids to private voice lessons or dance class. So we're going to try to make that feasible for everyone."
Jordan Rose, seventeen, is a member of the Denver South High School choir and a finalist in the Bringing Back the Arts competition. She kicked off yesterday's event with a pre-compeition performance of Toni Braxton's lullaby, "How Could an Angel Break My Heart?"
She said she was nervous for this weekend's competition -- though her poised performance displayed a somewhat more confident character. "I thought it was a really great thing to get involved with," she said, "and I just went for it."
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