Alamance County musicians are a close-knit bunch. So when word got out that Elon University’s senior sound and video specialist Bryan Baker was looking for musicians to record a CD to benefit a charitable organization, he found 20 artists willing to sit down in a recording studio and make art happen.
As a part of a service sabbatical, Baker contacted these artists and and put the CD, “Make Art Happen,” together with other members of the Elon community including professors and students.
Service sabbaticals are offered to staff only, not faculty, through Project Pericles. Staff members are able to take up to a month off to work on a charity or service project that will benefit the community.
Five years ago, Baker did a similar project with Christmas music, recruiting local musicians to cover traditional songs. The proceeds, nearly $30,000 from more than 6,000 copies sold, have gone to Christmas Cheer of Alamance County, a charitable organization that provides local families with gifts for the holidays.
Of the 20 songs on the CD, 16 are original works by the musicians. It features local acts like Too Far Gone and Josh Lambert Band, as well as Elon University staff and professors, such as music professor Jon Metzger.
“There are three purposes for this CD,” Baker said, “One is to promote Alamance County musicians and provide an avenue for them to display their talents. Two is to sell the CD and provide funds for Alamance County schools’ arts programs. One hundred percent of the profits go to work through a group called ACE – Alamance Citizens for Education. This nonprofit was established for Alamance citizens to have a voice in the Alamance County education system. They’ll set up a grant system to provide the money. Three, the CD is a hands-on opportunity for Elon students in sales, marketing and event management.”
Elon students and faculty are assisting in the production of the CD. Associate professor of entrepreneurship Barth Strempek’s applications of entrepreneurship class worked on marketing and selling the CD.
Baker is an Alamance native, with the exception of a stint in Tennessee for college and working as a recording engineer in Nashville. He said it was easy to fall back into the local music scene.
“Just being a music lover myself and being back here for a decade, I’ve gotten myself back into the community and I’ve heard different groups,” he said. “It’s basically hearing old friends play with new bands.”
The cause of arts education and extracurriculars in schools is close to Baker’s heart. He played in a jazz band in high school and recalls budget cuts taking some of that away.
“I remember when I was in high school having music slashed from three days a week to one day a week,” Baker said. “I just remember that being an eye opener – that something was wrong with that.”
The CD was promoted and released at a free concert outside Company Shops Market in downtown Burlington Nov. 11. Too Far Gone Band and Josh Lambert Band, performed, beginning at 8:30 p.m. The cold weather prevented a huge turnout, but many people from the community, as well as students and professors, came by to support the album.
Jean Hartley from Leasburg, camped out in a folding chair to listen to the music. Throughout Too Far Gone Band’s show, she held on to Cheyenne, the drummer’s dog.
“I just like music,” Hartley said. “I work in downtown Burlington and I thought I would come out.”