Some local high schoolers are looking for a way to create a common ground during divisive times. Their solution? A student-run social enterprise that supports and develops music and art projects relating to unification.
Dreams of starting a band and getting your music heard often start in a place like a classroom with two friends sharing ideas on an acoustic guitar. But how do you get from there to the stage?
You have to make connections. That’s what some Mount Saint Mary Academy students are doing. As part of her entrepreneur class, Senior Heather Fitzgerald started a student-run social enterprise in the fall of 2017 called Rumbler Records. Her goal is a straight forward one.
“We just want to unite the community,” said Fitzgerald. “We want music to be that unifying platform for everyone. No matter your race or ethnicity or anything. Whatever it is, we just want music to bring people together.”
Fitzgerald is already working with some prominent local musicians.
“Robbie Takac from the Goo Goo Dolls, we talked to him and he got behind it. And then we have Lost Connections, they are all students that are performing with us. Joey Bastion, Bela Moulden, lots of local talent, duo Francesca Harvey and John Richter, and Oliva Larson,” she said.
Fitzgerald is also working with the student band Lake Paradigm, who through Rumbler Records, was able to record the song “Me and You” – a song about coming together. Co-Writer Joanna Long says this gives her a chance to play music outside the Kenmore school.
“I’ve been playing guitar for about ten years now,” said Long. “Bringing in to the aspect of trying to better the community with music with something that we all love. And (to) share that love of music is really great to be able to do.”
Long’s bandmate and co-writer, Claire Bressette said their music and new single matches Rumbler Records goal.
“It’s called Me and You. It encompasses everything that the business stands for and for what I stand for.”
So how do we get from the band room to a recording studio? Teaming up with 3-time Grammy nominated music producer Anthony Cassuccio helps. He worked with Rumbler Records to record “Me and You”.
“For me, to see these students who are in high school, take this passion (and) harness this passion… record a song, practice it, work on the business aspects of it, come in to the studio and just knock out of the park was very fulfilling,” Cassuccio said.
Cassuccio now works at Villa Maria College. That’s where the girls recorded their work.
“I think, A: you’ve seen your creative work from piece of paper to final mix. I think that’s a great feeling,” said Cassuccio. “The fact that they’re actually going out and doing something with this piece of music to change the perception in the community, I think that’s amazing.”
Things have moved fast for CEO Fitzgerald and Rumbler Records, but individual moments often remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place.
“Working with Anthony, whenever we were in his studio… After we played the first song, full through the first time, we were all dancing. We were all laughing having a good time. It was a very surreal moment,” said Fitzgerald.
One of the proudest people you’ll find at Mount Saint Mary’s is Assistant Principal Julie Wojick. She’s seen these students grow since middle school.
“You see the talent that they have musically,” said Wojick. “They’re all part of our fine arts program here and they’ve taken the opportunities that that program has offered them and have really expanded upon them. It’s real exciting to see them. I’m not at all surprised.”
Fitzgerald will be heading to college next year. She plans to expand Rumbler Records.
“I’ll probably be taking this with me to college and they can continue it here at the Mount as well. We’re hoping that this can grow in to something bigger,” Fitzgerald said.
Rumbler Records is holding a concert Thursday night at the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls starting at 7 PM. The event is called hashtag Share Your Song and will also include short video interviews of Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls and Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela.
The future plan for this student-run social enterprise is to hold more events and digitally release the single “Me and You” in the upcoming months.