Music Unites at The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon

Nikon Inc. and Warner Music Group partnered with Music Unites—a non- profit organization that provides music education to students in under- served school districts—for a very special event that was held at South by Southwest® Music & Media Conference (SXSW®) in Austin, Texas.  “The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon” presented two days and three nights of stellar showcase performances at Austin’s famed La Zona Rosa, on March 13th through 15th.

Music Unites, which works towards transforming inner-city landscapes by empowering urban youth through music education, gave five deserving students from Austin’s Lanier High School the opportunity to attend “The Warner Sound Captured By Nikon” on Wednesday, March 14th, where they met Warner Bros. recording artist – and Music Unites ambassador – Gary Clark Jr.  The students each received Nikon cameras and participated in a workshop with renowned rock photographer Robert Knight before getting an exclusive chance to photograph Clark and other live performances from “The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon.”

Lanier High School, an inner-city school in the heart of Austin, is home to over 1500 students.  The five students chosen to attend “The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon” were selected based on their passion for music and photography.

Left to Right Lyor Cohen (CEO of Warner Music Group), students from Lanier High School, Gary Clark JR., and Music Unites founder Michelle Edgar (photo credit Chris Phelps)

“It’s cool to meet people that make their living taking photos and making music,” said senior Lanier High School student Christian Luna. “I like knowing that there are other opportunities out there, and that we can apply what we learn to life after high school.”

“Our students live in the live music capital of the world, but rarely have the means to participate in South by Southwest,” said Lanier High School yearbook adviser Abi Smithey. “This is an awesome opportunity to let them see what they can aspire to be, and also to show them that there are corporations out there that are interested in investing in their future.”

An official SXSW showcase, “The Warner Sound Captured By Nikon” will see live performances by a wide array of artists from Atlantic Records, Warner Bros. Records and other WMG labels; all SXSW badge-holders are welcome and a limited supply of tickets will be sold at the door. Evening showcase headliners include Santigold and Chuckie on Tuesday, March 13th, Gary Clark Jr. on Wednesday, March 14th, and T.I. and B.o.B on Thursday, March 15th.  Daytime showcases will feature stripped-down sets from headliners fun. on Wednesday, March 14th and Kimbra on Thursday, March 15th.  Other artists slated to perform at “The Warner Sound Captured by Nikon” include Theophilus London, Dr. John, Wale, Stalley, Geographer, Crystal Fighters, Flux Pavilion, Ed Sheeran, Meek Mill, Avalanche City, LP, Doctor P, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Curren$y, Outasight, The Chain Gang of 1974, The Staves, Neon Hitch, We Are Augustines, and Punch Brothers.

Kids from Lanier High School are shown unboxing their Nikon Cameras with Robert Knight (photo credit Chris Phelps)

I had a chance to sit down with Music Unites founder Michelle Edgar and gain some more insight into what the program does and what the future looks like. We talked about how South By Southwest was the first festival in which they had a presence and wanted to promote the importance of the after school program.

“From a musical aspect and a business aspect we are trying to promote Music Unites as a forum for kids to express themselves and learn the business.”

Bringing Gary Clark on board and establishing the “Five Borough Initiative” has been a tremendous success and we look forward to expanding the program beyond New York, said Michelee Edgar.

One lucky student receives an autograph from Robert Knight (photo credit Chris Phelps)

As mentioned kids from Lanier High School had a chance to submit an essay and were chosen for the SXSW event, in which they had a hands on lesson with renowned music photographer Robert Knight.

Michelle also mentioned the tremendous support from Rolling Stone Magazine and how they have reached above and beyond to promote the importance of this program.

We here at Ultra5280 love music programs like this and would love to set up a similar project in the future just as Music Unites has done.  Their blueprint for success was none more evident than seeing the joy and smiles that the kids in Austin got to experience.