CORE Music Spotlight: Steff Reed

CORE Music Spotlight: The Power of Love Experience

Seasoned music producer, independent artist and CORE Music mentor Steff Reed has released an entirely self-produced album of unifying anthems and rally cries apt to soundtrack a movement rooted in love. Earning a spot on the iTunes Top 100 Alternative Albums chart, The Power of Love offers a broadly appealing sound to connect people from all walks of life to a New Soul Renaissance.

CORE Music Spotlight: Kelsey Pyro

Introducing: CORE Music Spotlight

CORE Music: pure from the source, here to speak truth and love to power through sonic alignment.

We’ve been blessed to collaborate with and encounter an immense amount of music that fits the bill, and center its creative process in our program sessions. We hope this series will encourage the creation of even more by highlighting the diverse forms it takes.

In our first CORE Music Spotlight, we’re featuring our friend and program mentor Kelsey Pyro. Kelsey also builds community monthly by producing and hosting the Blue Nile Jam Session in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Click on the video below to connect with her social media channels, and here to check out her latest performance with Sofar Sounds in Chicago.

What is CORE Music?

Lately, I’ve found myself gravitating toward a number of tracks off the album Forbidden by Todrick Hall. I was first introduced to this visual album by a dear friend and colleague, and I found myself easily fixated on any number of deep, yet broadly accessible messages shared with unmatched poise and clarity. The visual album is about 90 minutes in total, and worth the full watch (multiple times over, if you ask me). It activates more functions of music than I could see before interacting with them firsthand; it communicates feelings and experiences I know almost too well, but in a way that propels my relationship with them farther than I could do alone.

I’ve been asked many times in varying contexts, what is CORE Music? It’s also a question I’ve asked myself since settling on the name for the powerful, yet intangible journey many of us have taken over the past few years together. The short answer is that CORE Music comes from the deepest, clearest source of self possible for the artist(s) at the time; it’s a syntheses of our experiences and influences. This definition is intentionally not specific to one genre, but affords the ability to distinguish between what is and what isn’t across musical traditions.

Music is created for a myriad of reasons, but there is a humanly discernible difference between music that radiates from one’s soul, and music that emerges from a more superficial or removed environment. We usually can’t put our finger or our words on what the difference is, and sometimes musicians are so masterful that we as consumers are fooled. But the kind of attachment that results in us listening to the same song on repeat… it comes from a soul place. It matters beyond its own existence, because it grapples with itself fully and opens space for listeners to pour their own selves deep inside. Its significance rings from its purpose as emanated from its creators, and also from its function to powerfully transform listeners. As Lady Gaga notes in her recent documentary on Netflix, songwriting is a process akin to emotional open heart surgery for those fully participating in it.

In the most responsible ways possible, CORE Music Program engages young people in this intimate process, in order to move through what we’ve termed Artist-as-Self Development. In the process of reciprocal listening and sharing through our diverse traumas, we embark on journeys, individual and collective, to heal ourselves.

What we choose to express and communicate through our art, however, is not necessarily a play-by-play of our healing processes. Our music and purposes are far grander than healing alone; we create music to celebrate our existence, to challenge the cognitive dissonances we encounter in our lives, and to manifest our truest selves into the world for communal engagement and visibility.

CORE Music: it’s music for the people, by the people.
It’s a method to the madness, and a journey beyond one mind’s comprehension alone.

This is CORE Music.

CORE Music NYCComment
Introducing: CORE Music Thoughts

Hi. I’m Jamie, and I’m the founder of CORE Music.

CORE Music evolved out of a pilot initiative in residence at the Music Experience Design Lab at NYU (where I’m a Creative Education Fellow) called the Ed Sullivan Fellows Program, which was sponsored by the grandson of Ed Sullivan to help young artists otherwise disconnected from the necessary resources to enter the music industry. As this unexpected blessing befell my MusEDLab community, my synapses began firing around how this opportunity could bring together people I’d once connected with, and their communities, too.

 Hip Hop and Culturally Responsive Music Education Panel, NYU IMPACT Conference 2017

Hip Hop and Culturally Responsive Music Education Panel, NYU IMPACT Conference 2017

Music has been a deepest love of mine, but in a way that manifests pretty differently from many other musicians I know. As I feel rich chord progressions activate intimate emotions I’m not used to, the wonder and air of mystery around how it did that has never been lost on me — to the extent that I subconsciously avoided the music theory lessons that actually matter to me the most. The human complexities and nuances are what take it from being pitches sounding in time and make it a magical, moving experience.

As my college professors began to pull back that drape, I felt like Dorothy when the Wizard is exposed as nothing more than a man posturing like he’s significant. My perspective about what creates that magic has shifted deeply in years since. I abandoned my classical music training and found work that utilizes music in a broader societal function.

My first job out of college was working with this amazing team integrating hip hop, music, and youth culture into middle and high school classes that students need to pass in order to graduate.

In several phases of my life since, I have jokingly identified to this time as a past life I’ve lived. The wonder that accompanies when I share this information since is a newfound appreciation I wasn’t able to feel around fellow classical musicians. It took me a while to understand why that was. It stemmed from having lived two musical lives for 20 years that were painfully separate from one another. I loved them both, but the compartmentalization nearly drove me out of my mind.

The other one felt much more like home. It felt like Rubber Soul and the Lovin’ Spoonful playing on the car stereo. It was Natalie Imbruglia and Savage Garden, Britney Spears and Lou Bega, observably mundane experiences I never articulated. It was the experience that my friend and colleague Steff Reed explored during this session he led with the program around his album, the Power of Love Experience.

ICYMI: the video describes the phenomenon that occurs with recorded music where after it is released for public consumption, it transforms beyond the intention of the creators and into new crevices of existence that rarely see the light of day. Once recorded music is distributed, it can become a sonic childhood blanket for listeners worldwide. It can become an old friend that reminds you how you used to close down the club, or a time machine that transports you to Coney Island in the 1930s, when Minnie the Mermaid commanded the ears of board-walkers and beach-roamers.

Live music, I believe is even more significant an exchange between artist and consumer, while passively listening and processing art is an intimate experience between consumer and self. The phenomenon of singing my favorite songs along with stadiums full of passionate concertgoers is unparalleled. The community engaged around that music makes people feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, even if just for a couple of hours. That’s why we show up when our favorite artists are playing.

In both contexts, CORE Music centers the power of music to heal, celebrate, challenge, and self actualize. If it’s not doing (at least) one of these four things, I’m not sure what it’s doing. We’ll be centering this power through this blog, through our artist development, production, and management, and through our partnerships with creative individuals and communities channeling this power, too.

So I’d like to welcome you, whoever you are, to CORE Music Thoughts. We’ll be featuring artists engaging their communities in powerful, constructive ways, and the artists within our own communities rising into the same purpose. Engaging our (core) selves to create lives from our music is daunting, and enacting the full potential impact takes all of us.

Let’s build.