You are currently viewing Students from Black colleges take part in Apple’s two-week music program

Students from Black colleges take part in Apple’s two-week music program

Students taking part in the two-week music program

Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities took part in a two-week program about the creative arts, made possible by Apple’s Racial Equality and Justice Initiative.

Originally surfacing in June, the program from the Propel Center provided 50 students selected from 19 HBCUs with a ten-day experience. The “What’s Your Superpower?” course helped to empower students to embrace their authentic selves through their future careers.

Based on the campuses of Tennessee State University in Nashville and Clark Atlanta University, the students were given mentorship from the HBCU faculty, as well as industry professionals in creative and executive roles. Explained in an Apple profile of the course on Thursday, the students also worked with experts at the Apple Music Nashville office.

The accelerator was launched through the Propel Center, which was created in 2021 in one of Apple’s earliest Racial Equality and Justice Initiative investments. The Propel Center’s curricula was designed to help create new pathways for HBCU students to enter careers known to be highly competitive.

“Subject-matter experts are everything along this journey,” said Propel Center president Dr. Lisa Herring. “There’s nothing more powerful than for a student to be able to interface with someone who is the expert as they seek to become one.”

Herring continued “Apple’s belief in being able to not only be a partner, but to be at the table, move from the table, and then be in the field, and then be side by side with our students and instructors — that’s commitment down to the details.”

The Propel Center offers educational programming to HBCUs in a variety of disciplines, including more technology-focused areas including AI, AR, and app development. It also offers education in the creative arts, entertainment, design, agriculture, and social justice.

“When we launched our Racial Equity and Justice Initiative four years ago, we did so with a clear mission to advance equity and create greater access to opportunity for under-resourced communities,” said Apple VP of Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives Lisa Jackson.

“These are persistent and systemic challenges, and we are committed to working with partners, including PROPEL Center, to close the existing gaps and achieve meaningful change.”

Education by production

In Nashville, students were able to meet Apple Music’s global head of Hip Hop and R&B, Ebro Darden at the National Museum of African American Music. They also worked with experts at the Apple Music office and Universal Music Group’s East Iris Studios.

A person in a red shirt and sunglasses sings into a microphone in a recording studio.

Emmanuel Strickland assisting on one group’s track

Participants also worked together on projects surrounding the theme of “Propelling Preservation.” Ten-person teams worked to show how Black creatives contributed to social movements, and how HBCU culture could be sustained for the future.

Each team was given a genre and tasked with recording a single, creating a marketing plan, and using an iPhone to shoot a visual campaign. They then had to pitch the concept to industry professionals.

For some participants, this included collaborations with experts, including artist, producer, and songwriter Fresh Ayr. UMG East Iris Studios also helped produce the song in Logic Pro.

“A lot of the students are coming from various schools and various backgrounds,” said music engineer mentor and Bethune-Cookman University teacher of music technology Sylvester Polk. “Some of them have been exposed to a lot already, some of them don’t have any idea.”

Commenting on the large number of fields and required skills in the industry, Polk continued by offering praise for the accelerator’s existence. “The accelerator has been great for providing the students with a holistic understanding of what the industry is and how it works, and Propel has been able to provide an extension to the classroom.”