By Kenya King
Special to the Daily World
In its eighth year providing music education resources for Atlanta youth, the Dallas Austin Foundation for Music Education (DAFME) held its annual fundraiser on Saturday, July 23, in Atlanta with a Casino Royale, James Bond-themed celebration.
“We’ve had so many star-studded events…and I felt like it was time to have a little more fun with it. Take it out of the regular fundraiser mode and say, OK, let’s start doing themes and things that will make the person enjoy being there.”
The Grammy award-winning producer and DAFME founder, Dallas Austin, started his foundation in 2003 with hopes of educating youth about the music process and cultivating a mindset of the importance of music education in the school system.
“I basically started it because I wish I had it when I was in school. It was two reasons: For one, they started taking music programs out of schools and then for two, I wish I had it when I was in school because we had band class but we didn’t have electronic music where we could make music with, that we make on the radio,” said Austin.
“When I saw people taking it out of the schools, I was like, that’s dead wrong, especially for Atlanta because we made so many records out of here. Kids went to school with their peers that ended of being stars until they look at it and say I can do that too. So I said you can’t take music out of the schools, you got to enhance the equipment and put the equipment in that we’re making records with because they’re not associating the clarinet and the flute with making a lot of money these days, but they are associating beat machines and songs, and raps or singing songs — whatever with making money because they’ve seen their friends do it around here.”
The Dallas Austin Music Academy program is offered at Cedar Groove, Maynard H. Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Lithonia, Benjamin E. Mays, Miller Grove, North Atlanta and Booker T. Washington high schools. Austin targeted inner-city schools and schools that were in most need of funding for music education.
Most importantly, Austin says the record-making business is diverse and needs a plethora of talented individuals to help make an artist successful. There are a host of career paths that his program exposes to students.
“When I go in [to the schools], we set up work stations. Protools, [we] set up Logic, microphones and all that stuff, and then it spins off of about four or five different jobs. One kid wants to be an engineer, one kid wants to be the manager of the artist, and