During a year (and counting) in which we have all faced such unprecedented challenges, music has been the salvation for so many of us.
At WYEP, we want to be sure to help the next generation of musicians learn their craft, especially during these historic times. We need developing musicians to share their perspectives on the world through their art. While young musicians can rehearse and compose whenever and wherever they want, Reimagination gives them the opportunity to learn about the professional recording and business aspects of the music industry. Our 2021 participants were each guided by an experienced mentor and attended workshops about useful topics such as songwriting and marketing. I certainly hope they are invigorated and excited to continue their musical pursuits long into the future.
We are very proud and excited to share the music from this year’s group of participants, some really fine work. Please dig in and explore the resulting music. You just might find one of your new favorites!
-Mike Sauter, WYEP Station Manager
Adam Smith: “What’s On My Mind”
“I wrote What’s On My Mind on my own, but my Dana helped me add new elements to the song,” Smith shared. “He recommended I add an acoustic guitar and a piano part.
The studio was like the ultimate playground for me and I imagine any musician would feel the same. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I would love to do it again.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Adam Smith: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Bass; Dave Hidek: Drums
Aidan Gittings: “Breakup”
“I wrote this song to try and cope with my feelings and write down how I really felt. I love you so, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have to go,” Gittings explained.
“I wrote the song on my own, but the end sound will be an overall collaboration between Dana and myself. The studio was absolutely beautiful. It really struck a chord with me.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Aidan Gittings: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Bass; Dave Hidek: Drums
Andrew Bilinsky: “Can’t Be Sure”
“My sound, well, it’s kind of experimental and rudimentary at times. Almost all my percussion instruments are children’s toys,” Bilinsky said. “But anyway, in sound, it’s lo-fi. Musically, it’s folk-ish and indie-ish. Sometimes my voice cracks or my instrument is out of tune or I make a mistake, and I record most of it on my phone.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Andrew Bilinsky: Vocals, Baritone Ukulele, Melodica, Percussion; Dave Hidek: Drums
Betsy Schemer: “Realistic Romance”
“I feel like I have always struggled with comparing my life experience to those I’ve seen in social media, movies, and fiction,” Schmeler described. “Once I reached a certain age, I began to question whether I was living my life to the fullest potential like the characters in the stories I love.
This song is very much about my relationship with all the artists and characters I have hanging on my walls, how they have helped me understand living my life to its fullest potential, and how they have kept me trapped in my own fantasy world of envisioning myself somewhere else.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dave Hidek-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Betsy Schmeler: Vocals, Acoustic and Electric Guitars; Dave Hidek: Bass and Drums
Cameron Suzensky: “Lost”
“My style revolves around hip hop and pop genres,” Suzensky shared. “I find myself going back and forth between those two styles. I want to stick with that formula. That’s why my verses are rapping and the hooks are mostly me singing. In a way, I think it is kind of ‘indie.'”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Amos Levy-YMCA Lighthouse Studio, (Homewood), Pittsburgh, PA. Cameron Suzensky: Vocals; Robert Thompson: Electric Guitar; Amos Levy: Bass, Drums, Music Production
Isabella DiPietrantonio: “Forgiveness in the Form of Yellow”
“I’d have to say my favorite lyric is from midday shower to now sunflower, following the sun just seems so right as “midday shower” alludes to moments of sadness, struggle, and breakdowns and “now sunflower” is symbolic of my growth and fulfillment,” DiPietrantonio explains. “I once heard that young sunflowers face and follow the sun as it moves throughout the day, so following the sun just seems so right is symbolic of persistent growth, hope, and optimism.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Rick Witkowski-Studio L, Weirton, WV. Isabella DiPietrantonio: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Trombone, Wind Chimes; Bobby Hird: Dobro; Rick Witkowski: Banjo, Bass and Drums
Jonah Official: “Wonderland”
“I’ve been playing music in some way since I was four years old,” Official recalls. “I started out with drums, then later moved to vocal lessons. After a break, I started playing drums again. Studying different rhythms…made me an all-around better songwriter and exposed me to music I might not have understood otherwise.
I love writing songs and making music; it’s what I do best. I just want to inspire others to believe that they can do this too if they feel the music inside them and want it to bring it into reality.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Jonah McBride: Vocals, Beat Production, Music Production
Lindsay Liebro: “boardwalk”
“The first time I performed in public was at my aunt’s wedding when I was four, singing ‘Since U Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson,” Liebro reminisces.
“My songwriting journey began when I was in second grade and continued throughout elementary and middle school. However, it wasn’t until I taught myself guitar the summer before freshman year that I really started to write consistently. Over my first years of high school, my songwriting progressed. Quarantine was a pivotal time for me and my music since it was the first time I shared my songs with anyone.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Sean McDonald-Red Medicine Recording Studio, (Swissvale) Pittsburgh, PA. Lindsay Liebro: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Keyboards, Polaroid Camera; Sean McDonald: Electric Guitar, Keyboards, Bass, Drums
Logan Kellerman: “Lost In Time”
“Working in the studio was a pleasure for me, not only because I am learning audio engineering myself but also, I thought the soundboard and equipment were awesome,” Kellerman said. “[My producer] was very knowledgeable, and I learned a lot. The atmosphere was very inviting and made for a very enjoyable experience to record my single.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Logan Kellermann: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Bass; Joe Munroe: Piano; Dave Hidek: Drums
Maddie Hess: “Bildungsroman”
“Everything I know about music is built on the foundation my dad gave me,” Hess shared. “I started playing guitar early on in my childhood, learning chords from my father and then taking off on my own when I got better. Today, my dad plays guitar and sings with my uncle…and one of my favorite things in the entire world is walking outside at night and hearing their music through the open window, something about it is just so grounding and calming.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Carolyn Slothour-25 Carrick Ave Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Maddie Hess: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar; Isaac Hess: Bass
Professa T: “Progression”
“This song is about letting others know not to worry about their problems, face them straight on,” Professa T said. “In order to be a performer, I had to learn to overcome being scared on stage. Each time I perform I get more comfortable and confident. I progress. So, the song is something to encourage others to overcome their fears. My song is meant to lift people up because the past year has been really tough and crazy.”
Produced and Recorded by Armstead Brown, Mixed by DJ Shoe-YMCA Lighthouse Studio, (Homewood) Pittsburgh, PA. Taneiya Young: Lead Vocals, Beat Production; Brea Sanger: Chorus Vocals; Armstead Brown: Beat Production
Quinn Volpe: “Insomnia”
“It was great to be in a studio [for the first time] since 2019,” Volpe said. “Being there reminded me that nothing is going to end up exactly how it started or how I envisioned it, and that’s an amazing thing.
I released my first single, ‘Lonely Little Angel’, in February of 2020 after recording that summer at Mr. Small’s Recording Studio. A few months into quarantine, I decided to post a TikTok about it. More people started to stream it and add it to playlists, which helped the song to end up on a lot of people’s Discover Weekly playlists on Spotify. Eventually, it reached 100,000 streams, which was a huge deal for me since it was my first released song.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dana Cannone-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Quinn Volpe: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar; Joe Munroe: Keyboards; Dave Hidek: Drums
Sulwe Okoko: “Note To Self”
“My song, ‘Note to Self,’ is about self-love and appreciation,” Okoko explained. “It’s easy to compare ourselves to others, but this song reminds us that everyone is on their own path in life and that you can’t underestimate yourself. The vocal harmonies I sang are my favorite parts of the song. I love harmonizing!
My favorite lyric is “The future is up to us to compel.” This represents how you can manifest anything you want in life. I believe we don’t have a predetermined path in life, but rather we are like authors writing our own stories. This lyric reminds me of this mindset.”
Produced, Recorded and Mixed by Dave Hidek-The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA. Sulwe Okoko: Vocals; INEZ: Backing Instrument Tracks; Dave Hidek: Drum Loops
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Dana Cannone and Greg Joseph
WYEP STATION MANAGER: Mike Sauter
WYEP PRODUCER, LIVE & DIGITAL AUDIENCE EXPERIENCES: Nick Wright
MUSIC PRODUCERS AND STUDIOS:
25 Carrick Ave Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA 25carrickave.com
Dana Cannone and Dave Hidek
The Church Recording Studio, (Overbrook) Pittsburgh, PA thechurchrecordingstudio.com
Red Medicine Recording Studio, (Swissvale) Pittsburgh, PA seanmcdonald.com
Studio L, Weirton, WV studiolrecording.com
Amos Levy and Armstead Brown
YMCA Lighthouse Studio, (Homewood), Pittsburgh, PA ymcapgh.org/lighthouse-project
Treelady Studios treelady.com
Reimagination Masterclass Series:
#1-Take Your Songwriting To The Next Level
Kevin Garrett-Musician and Songwriter
Jordan Montgomery-Owner-Pittsburgh Based Record Label, Driving While Black Records
#2-Social Media and Promotion of Musicians
Erin Keane Scott-Director, Audiences & Brand Strategy-Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting
#3 Touring, Booking and Production
Alex Neal-GM-Thunderbird Cafe and Music Hall
Cody Walters-Deutschtown Music Festival
Nick Guckert and Edward Angelo-The Living Street
Joanna Obuzor-Operations Manager-The Benedum
#4-Radio Promotion, Distribution and Labels
Kyle Smith-Music Director-91.3 WYEP
Jeff Betten-General Manager-Pittsburgh Based Record Label, Misra Records
Michelle Feghali-Radio Manager-Sub Pop Records
Jordan Montgomery-Owner-Pittsburgh Based Record Label, Driving While Black Records
FUNDING FOR REIMAGINATION COMES FROM:
and the generous donors of WYEP
Special Thanks to The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, the Board and Staff of WYEP and the parents, guardians and families of the 2021 Reimagination student artists, for supporting Pittsburgh’s musical future.