SAN DIEGO — Whether you are Ray Charles or Aretha Franklin, every artist shares one thing in common; they all started somewhere. The mission of a non-profit organization in Kearny Mesa is helping young talent to share their voice. In this Zevely Zone, I visited the School for Creative Careers. That is where we found Kahlil Nash and his band in a professional studio recording for free. A few doors down, the artist known as 30 Foez was doing the same. I asked her much she was paying for the recording session. "Nothing actually. Not one dime," said 30 Foez.
The School for Creative Careers is the gift of founder Steve Stopper. "So, now we get into the fun part," said Steve who took me on a whirlwind tour. The School for Creative Careers is a non-profit enrichment experience that gives students of all ages hands-on experience with state-of-the-art technology in the entertainment industry. By empowering students through active outlets with industry professionals, they prepare them for meaningful creative careers. "I've been doing this for a long time and we've never charged a dime for it," said Steve.
His program mentors students with successful experts in the field. A combination between internship and event performance creates job opportunities, validating students' creative efforts and creating good will projects within the community. The walls are lined with guitars and closets are filled with famous microphones. Paul McCartney sang into one of the microphones. "Yes, yes," said Steve filled with excitement. "But wait. There's more." What matters most to Steve is who sings into the next microphone. In yet another recording studio we found Olivia Henry who is a singer songwriter. We asked if she could have afforded to pay for the studio time. "No way, no way, no way," said Olivia.
"Feels like home, feels like a place a lot of young talented musicians don't have," said program coordinator Carleton Overstreet Jr. In another room we found Julie Roland. She was polishing her act as a magician with jokes and a card trick. Julie runs her own organization called Just Tryna Make Friends. She performed her trick flawlessly, but the real magic act will be figuring out how to find more funding for the School for Creative Careers. "All donated or used gear that we are putting into systems," said Steve on our tour. He showed me rooms filled with show business equipment. To pay for part of the program, Steve is an audio-visual expert who does installations, but more money is needed. As we dashed from studio to studio, I asked Carleton if Steve was crazy for taking so much on. "Steve is crazy," confirmed Carleton. To which Steve yelled from another room, "I can hear that, ha, ha, ha."
But honestly, who else could open so many doors, for so many? "This book was written with a personal growth guide and reflection journal," said author Channing Moreland. We met Channing in yet, another free space where she was showcasing her book. "A lot of time we tell kids that you can do anything you want to do and go here and go there, but we don't actually provide them those spaces. So having a creative space like this for them to come to and see all of these tools and see the guitars and see the microphones and the large recording studio, it like brings something to life for them," said Channing.
Sometimes people just need an opportunity to shine. "Was that your song that was playing?" I asked 30 Foez. "Yes," she said with a big smile as we danced to her bumping beats. "Thank you, I'm glad you like it," said 30 Foez. It's a song she created thanks to Steve Stopper which she will now share with the world. "Yes, absolutely, I am very, very, very, very excited," said 30 Foez. How does it feel to have dreams come true? "It feels unbelievable, unimaginable," said 30 Foez.
The program is hoping to grow with more donations and community involvement. The goal is to provide free entertainment services to thousands of people. If you'd like to learn more information about the School for Creative Careers click here.