Emily Wheeler
Editorial Intern

Music filled the air  June 8 as Art as Mentorship’s Ignition Camp concluded with a concert. This week-long summer music camp appealed to a wide range of young artists, from seasoned musicians to those who had never picked up an instrument. Participating students had the opportunity to meet, ask questions and learn from music industry professionals.

Ignition Camp is a condensed version of its flagship program — the Rebel Song Academy. The 12 week Rebel Song Academy deconstructs the entire creative process through songwriting, instilling transferable skills and mental health principles to help young artists develop the vital mindset needed for real-world success.

Student-formed bands wrote, produced and performed their music with mentor guidance. “Everything is original, from top to bottom, written in a week,” said Program Director and Mentor, Brandon Yangmi.

Art as Mentorship has built a network of Grammy, award-winning and world-class musicians to serve as mentors to young Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and Latino artists in Kansas City. As mentors, these professional musicians inspire youth to raise their voices and create original music grounded in their culture and personal experience.

“The program allows kids to follow their passions without feeling pressure to be the best or fit a certain mold,” said Sheila Barr, mother of a student camp participant.

Enrique Chi is the founder of Art as Mentorship and serves as the artistic and executive director. Chi is also the leader and songwriter of  Latin Grammy-nominated band, Making Movies. In 2017, Chi launched Art As Mentorship — a nonprofit organization formed to expand the band’s community efforts.

“He has been through the industry; he knows the things to do to be successful,” said camp volunteer Edwing Mendez. Mendez — a graphic designer and marketing specialist — provided students with helpful marketing tips. “The camp equips kids with more than just singing lessons.”

Art as Mentorship hosted photojournalist Scout Tufankjian during its camp to help amplify awareness of the nationally recognized youth program.

The Ameri’kana Music and Arts Festival grew alongside Art as Mentorship, and its reach has brought Art as Mentorship into the national spotlight. The festival explores U.S. past and present music by highlighting the contributions of Black, Indigenous and people of color. The festival is free, with performances from Making Movies, Trap Jazz Salvation Choir and students from Rebel Song Academy. The festival will be on July 27 at Concourse Park (200 Benton Blvd).