REDLANDS, CA- It is the final week of the 'Living a Life of Purpose: Art & Rhythm' series, and to end the series I thought that I would highlight a youth organization that has been doing positive things within the Inland Empire and aboard. Plus, this series in whole was created to inspire our youth to achieve greatness.
Today's youth are bombarded with so many pressures in the world from the movies and shows that they watch on television to the music that plays on the radio, each of these things have been placing a negative image in the minds of youth causing them to go down destructive paths. However, there are ways that these things can be switched from a negative to a positive image. Youth are more creative and intelligent then people make them out to be, all they need is someone who cares enough to guide them and show them that they can achieve greatness beyond measures.
I had the pleasure of interviewing a good friend who started an organization in order to give back to the youth in his community. Music Changing Lives (MCL) was created by Josiah Bruny with the mission to assist youth between the ages of eight to 18 to connect with their passions and purpose in life. MCL offers the highest quality of music and art enrichment programs to underprivileged and at risk youth. Bruny has been very influential in changing the lives of his students for the better.
In this exclusive interview, you will see a few of the MCL students and how there lives have been impacted by the program. In addition, you will also hear and read Bruny's future plans for the program.
Franklin Barnes (a.k.a Fabz), 19, Moreno Valley, CA
"I'm a music person. I sing R&B music, write my own lyrics and record my own music. I pretty much, just tear it up."
Barnes realized that he had a passion for music at the age of five years old. He grew up listening to ol' skool music, but as he grew older and grasped a hold of what he really liked, he started to follow artists, such as R.Kelly, Craig David and Musiq Soul Child. It was through them that emerged the passion of singing out of Barnes. As time went on, he was introduced to Music Changing Lives by a friend of Bruny's, Syrita, who introduced the two. After a conversation and singing an acappella song for Bruny, Barnes was hooked on the program.
Before joining MCL, Barnes was going through a rough period in his life and didn't know what direction that he wanted to go in. He tried to do music with his family in Phoenix, but that did not work out as planned. When Barnes was introduced to the program, it gave him a different focus.
"Because of this, I feel that I am able to accomplish everything that I'm looking to accomplish."
MCL has made a very drastic change to Barnes' life. Through the program, he has found that he will be where he wants to be musically. He plans to be a top R&B singer in the next five years and to give back to everyone who believed in him.
Barnes advises everyone that:
"If you have a dream to do music then follow it...Don't let anyone limit you to what it is that you want to do. Whatever opportunity comes your way, open the door when someone is knocking on it."
Olivia, 14, of Redlands, California has always been into music since an early age; however, she didn't decide to take music seriously until she started playing the guitar at the age of 10. Due to her being musically talented her father decided to introduce her to the program Music Changing Lives (MCL). Since joining MCL, Olivia has received the chance of having her music not only recorded, but also heard by the community at large. She encourages other youth who want to pursue a career in music to get involved in MCL because it is a great way to get their foot in the door. Olivia plans to continue her music throughout high school and beyond. In addition to playing the guitar, she also runs track and plays the flute.
Stephen "Kid Artist" Reed, also from Redlands, was introduced to MCL during his freshman year of high school by a friend who showed him the studio; however, at the time he was not really into rapping. It wasn't until his junior year that Reed realized that he wanted to do music. In turn, Reed came back to MCL, seen how things were done and decided to join.
"I always been into music, but I never really got into it until later," Reed said. "I did a little acting when I was four, and played the guitar at the age of 13."
Since joining MCL, it has kept Reed occupied. Before he joined the program, Reed didn't have any extracurricular activities to look forward to.
"It gives me a purpose for living and music, music is my soul."
In the future, Reed plans on continuing to have his music heard and to live a life of success.
The founder, the man behind the dream:
Josiah Bruny emerged into the music industry starting as a street team promoter working for Priority and Capitol Records, alongside his older brother. He soon became very successful and influential within the industry and figured it was time to branch out on his own and start his own label. He not only wanted to teach youth how to become entrepreneurs, but he wanted to give them a gateway into the music industry because he knew how difficult it was to get into the industry for himself.
Due to no one showing Bruny the path of how to become his own BOSS, he spent countless hours in the library doing research on how to start his own business, how to do his own taxes and so forth. Once he became successful in doing that he knew that he had to teach youth on how to do the same thing.
Since launching MCL in 1998, the experience for Bruny has been breath taking. He sees himself as a young Harry Belafonte because he gets more of a thrill in seeing others succeed within music and art.
"Music has changed my life because I haven't worked for anyone, but myself for the last 14 years. I feel that by becoming an independent entrepreneur in the music business has helped me to become self-sustainable, and to teach others how to do the same. Now I'm on a mission to end generational poverty through music and the arts."
Aside from giving youth bigger opportunities in life, Music Changing Lives has also been impacting the world in tremendous ways. In 2012, Bruny and MCL partnered with Intel and Microsoft in Brazil where they will be building 100 community centers throughout the country of Brazil within the next five years. MCL has also been working with school districts to implement the program in their schools. And most recently, Bruny and his team have launched Paroisse Saint Espirt School in Haiti. They currently have 6 out of 14 students sponsored and are still in need of help with food, clothes, backpacks and toiletries for the students. Each month they need to raise $2, 500 to sustain the needs of the students and staff.
"Bottom line is that Music Changing Lives is about to take it to the next level and become a national known organization," Bruny states.
In addition to the accomplishments and goals of MCL, Bruny also plans on releasing his album entitled, "The Mission", where he is working with several artists which include Akon, Daddy Yankee and Pitbull. Together they are working on changing more lives and planning a tour in the United Kingdom (U.K.), Brazil and Indonesia. He also plans on releasing a spiritual based album for Haiti.
"It's an open arms thing for me. I'm a brand. I have music, art, jewelry, water bottles, skate decks... I mean it's endless. I'm the young Puff Daddy (P.Diddy) of the West Coast, so watch out."
Bruny encourages others that are in pursuit of their dreams to never give up and to find different positive community outlets and successful people that will help them and inspire them to also become successful in everything that they do. He always tells his students that the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree, so if you're own negativity then negativity will follow you, and if you are around positivity then positivity will follow you.
"Stay focused and stay true to where you're from. Don't forget your struggles and know that nothing comes easy. Don't let anyone steer you away from your dreams if it's positive."