Five Lake Norman-area high school students – three who have performed in bands together – were accepted into this summer’s Grammy Camps in Nashville and Los Angeles. These annual camps give kids the chance to work with music professionals in eight areas, from performance to writing to production. Only 119 high school students across the nation were chosen.
The Nashville camp ran May 30-June 3; the Los Angeles one will be July 18-22 at the University of Southern California. (Applications for next year open in September.)
Here’s a look at the five, the first three headed to Los Angeles, the last two just back from Nashville:
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Dukes heads back to Los Angeles for a second time at the Camp. A rising junior at Lake Norman Charter School, Dukes, 16, from Huntersville, will be on the instrumental career track with his guitar – but he’s also a drummer and a singer, and serves as drum captain on the Lake Norman drumline. Outside of school, he plays guitar and sings backup with the band Irrashional, and plays alongside his father, Buddy Dukes, in The Dukes & Smith Band. (He also used to play in the band The Glass Hammers with another 2017 Grammy Camp student, Analise Malick; see below.) Dukes says his favorite genre is classic rock.
Dukes says he’s accomplished all the professional goals he set with mentors at last year’s Grammy Camp. The camp, he says, showed him a new level of professionalism, and this year he’s hoping to gain “a new sort of strategy to continue promoting myself and getting into bigger and bigger things.” His long-term goal is to record an album and go on tour with a band.
Malick will also be returning to Los Angeles, for vocal performance. At 13, she released a country album – a four-song EP – with Nashville’s Lamon Records. Now 17 and a rising senior at Davidson Day School, she’s shifted to electronic music, and recently recorded an electronic album with a friend she met at Grammy Camp last year. This year, she looks forward to creating music with new people.
“Grammy Camp is an incredible experience,” Malick says. “Last summer it was such an honor to work with all the kids and the teachers. The faculty there is so incredibly talented.” Malick says that she has been able to keep in touch with her vocal performance teacher from the camp, and has been continuously sending in new music for advice. One of the coolest people that came to present at Grammy Camp, she said, was Phil McIntyre, manager of the Jonas Brothers and Demi Lovato. Malick says that her main goal right now is to go on tour, but her longer-term goal is to go to a good music college.
Alden, 17 and a Cornelius Academy student, will go to Los Angeles to produce music videos. She considers herself a pop singer, and has choreographed, directed, edited and produced her own videos, often with her dance team.
Alden was recently nominated for the 10th annual Carolina Music Awards in the youth video category (voting ends July 10). These awards, co-founded by Roberta Flack and Randy Travis, recognize Carolinas artists in a range of genres.
This will be Alden’s first time attending Grammy Camp, and she says that she is looking forward to working with professionals in the music industry, particularly on how to better promote herself.
Velligan, 16, says she’s only been singing seriously for about a year – she’s now lead singer with the band Irrashional (yes, with Huntersville’s Patrick Dukes), and also is lead guitarist for the all-girl band Controlled Chaos.
She went to the Nashville Grammy Camp for the first time two weeks ago, for vocal performance, and says the experience “exceeded my expectations.”
Velligan is home-schooled in Denver. She says Grammy Camp gave her a newfound confidence about having a future in the music industry: A year ago, she would have been too scared to even apply to Grammy Camp.
Her favorite part about the camp, though, was recording in the studio. She recorded two songs that she says will be posted on Soundcloud.
Velligan says, “Anybody can go from being frightened to just having fun ... Grammy Camp really helped with that.”
Carter Faith Jones
You might recognize Jones: She sang “White Christmas” in Charlotte’s 2016 Thanksgiving Day Parade. She was a first-timer at Nashville, too, for songwriting. A 16-year-old from Davidson who considers herself a country music singer, she just finished her junior year at Cannon School.
At Grammy Camp, she says, she got to write songs with others her age: “It’s so much better to work with people who are in the same industry as you and have the same passions.” She says the biggest thing she learned was about the business side of the industry. She hopes to attend Belmont University and major in songwriting. Her long-term goals are to sing and perform, but she says she thinks her songwriting skills will get her there.