Spotlight: Brian “Raydar” Ellis @ GGE
Arts Horizons is pleased to spotlight our ongoing partnership with Girls for Gender Equity (GGE), a community-based organization in Brooklyn. According to their mission statement, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) is “an intergenerational grassroots organization committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women.” Founded in 2001, GGE strives to “create opportunities for girls and women to live self-determined lives…through education, organizing and physical fitness.”
Although primarily focused on girls and women, GGE has a few initiatives that are coed such as the Urban Leaders Academy (ULA), an afterschool program for middle school students in the Sheepshead Bay, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Flatlands, and Canarsie neighborhoods in Brooklyn. AH teaching artists Dawn Crandell, Veronique Fremont, Monique Martin, Mansa Mussa, Donovan Nelson, and Larry Washington have all conducted successful arts education residencies with ULA over the past five years.
This fall, Larry is repeating his percussion music residency with ULA students at New Visions Charter School for Advanced Math & Science, and Brian “Raydar” Ellis is teaching songwriting and music technology at JHS 78K: Roy H. Mann School. An assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, Raydar is a new teaching artist with Arts Horizons and a well-known DJ, emcee, vocalist, and music producer specializing in blending Hip-Hop and Jazz.
A native of Harlem, he served as DJ/MC for The Revive Big Band at Central Park Summer Stage and for the opening night of MoMA’s Jacob Lawrence event. Raydar is also the official remixer and a credited producer on Revive/Blue Note’s “Supreme Sonacy” LP. Ellis is also a featured vocalist and producer on Esperanza Spalding’s recent Grammy-winning album, Radio Music Society. Raydar has shared the stage with internationally known artists including: Me’shell Ndegeocello, Questlove, CeeLo Green, Pharoahe Monch, John Cena, and many others.
AH Program Coordinator Kiran Rajagopalan had the opportunity to visit Raydar’s classes last week. Let’s take a quick peek!
Raydar & Asha setting up the sound equipment before the first class
Students are working together on composing and recording an original song that ties in with ULA’s social justice curriculum. They had already selected their favorite songs last week and were creating “samples” to use for the beat of their song during this session. Raydar taught them how to “slice” and isolate the “open parts” (sections of music without drums) of a song using music editing software. Students then selected snare, kick, and hi-hat drum samples from a digital rhythm pad to layer on top of their samples to create an original remix. Finally, they will compose the lyrics for their original song over the next few weeks.
Raydar’s students selecting their favorite drum sounds for their original song
Arts Horizons is excited that the fall semester has been eventful with the successful start of our programs with GGE and several other residencies. We would like to thank Ms. Nicole Hamilton (Director of ULA), Ms. Marguerite Copeland (Program Manager of ULA), and Ms. Asha John (ULA Staff) for their support and for welcoming us into their programs. We are looking forward to continuing our collaborative work with this amazing organization in the spring semester!