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"He who knows his WHY in life can live through any HOW" - Victor Frankl

Sunday, August 17, 2008

When Youth Reminisce

The Reminiscents, an eleven-piece teen band stopped the New York/New Jersey commuter traffic in their tracks at the World Trade Center Path Station on Thursday, August 8th. The Jersey City Arts High School program at New Jersey City University features, three vocalists: Atahya McKnight, Rosaline Bailey, and Elvia Ferreira and seven instrumentalists: trombonists, Shawn McCauley and Iggy Hermann, saxophonists Cara Scalcione-Hahn and Hamad Wajid, keyboardist Jacob Carlin, drummer Errold Lanier, and dual electric and bass guitarists Brittany Barrera and Michael Realista. The band features Pop, Rock-n-Roll, and Jazz favorites from Elvis Presley to Aretha Franklin, impressing crowds in Atlantic City, Metropolitan open spaces, senior centers, and museums.

The Reminiscent’s are the first artists to perform at the landmark location since the September 11th attacks. At their Hoboken, NJ, Frank Sinatra Park performance on Tuesday, August 12th, Jacob Carlin, 18, reflects on the Path performance. "It's a real honor to be the first [band] to perform there since 9-11. When we got there, I saw the quiet looks on everyone’s face coming in and out [the station]. We got to put smiles there again."

The Reminiscent’s have made smiles appear on a variety of audience’s faces since the program began June 9th this year. Atahya McKnight, 16, said, "We've also performed at Journal Square, Harborside Financial Center, and Newark International Airport. It's a lot of fun, and we get to do what we love." Rosline Bailey, 16, adds, “We get to show other kids our age and those part of the Youth Corp., that there are other ways to give back to the community.”

The one-hour performance included a twelve-hit playlist. The Beatles, "With A Little Help From My Friends," The Shirelles, "Mama Said," and Edgar Winter’s "Free Ride," to name a few, represent a repertoire atypical of the 21st century, teen listener. To that end, fifteen-year-old Brittney Barrera says, “Music is music. I have an old soul, so I love it. But the music we play is the foundation of all music played today. So, I’m in the back grooving to beats and tunes that’s real music.”

Positive peer-to-peer influence is a strong acclimation for the program and the capabilities of urban youth. Errold Lanier, 17 and program veteran says, “I’ve been part of the New Jersey Youth Corp program for four years now. I’m always learning different aspects of music, and I’m working on my signature style like Elvin Jones one of my favorite drummers. It’s also seeing how fortunate I am to be in my position that’s great, too—I’m glad I take my education seriously, so I can be a leader to those I work with in the corp.”

Cara Scalscione-Hahn, 16, also recognized the value of stepping outside normalcy. “Nowadays, you have to be open to try new things to figure out what’s best for you. I had been playing the clarinet for seven years and picked up the sax for about a year now. I figured it was beneficial to know both; if I want to play in a jazz band verses playing in a Classical band.”

The arts program has equipped these teens with an opportunity to develop confidence within a skill set. Carlin explains, “I didn’t realize going into this how much work it was really going to be. Sometimes rehearsals are stressful and moving equipment, too. But, the best [aspect] is that all of our hard work, our teamwork makes the performance. When we see people come to us and even start dancing, it’s awesome and worth it!”

Carlin’s sentiment is shared by his colleagues, and their experiences have prepared them for an international audience. In August 2009, The Reminiscents will travel to Oberhavel, Germany as two-time participants in the annual, Begegnungen Oberhavel-Internationales Kulturtreffen. The Oberhavel International Culture Festival is a ten-day workshop that focuses on uniting the generations based on mutual respect, global peace, and cultural tolerance through musical expression. “[Last year] we bonded with a group from Finland almost instantly-probably because they spoke the best English. I’ve kept in touch with some of them through email and instant messenger, and I hope I have life-long [international] friends,” says Carlin.

The Reminiscents continue to accept donations for the 2009 trip. “Anyone who is interested in making a donation is encouraged to contact me through email or phone at 973-876-9846 or nsdrum00@yahoo.com,” says program producer and director Ned Stroh. Booking and general information inquires should be directed there as well.

“We get to touch people’s lives, in different environments. You can’t beat the feeling,” Bailey says in closing. “No matter what, whether in the blazing sun or pouring rain, we are here to sell the show.” A sale this group will forever reminisce.

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