Southern Girls Rock Camp at MTSU lets youth be loud, proud artistically

The Southern Girls Rock Camp again gave young aspiring musicians a chance to showcase their musical and arts talents for a 16th year at Middle Tennessee State University.

Held in the university’s Wright Music Hall and the Saunders Fine Arts Building, the camp hosted a group of more than 20 girls and gender non-conforming youth ages 10-17 for a week of rocking out and having fun that wraps up with an afternoon public concert on Saturday, July 28.

The day camp allowed participants to create their own rock band while providing instrument instruction; songwriting, crafts, artistic movement and music video workshops; and opportunities to see notable band performances to enhance their experience.

Developed through the Nashville, Tennessee-based nonprofit Youth Empowerment through Arts and Humanities (YEAH!), Southern Girls Rock Camp recognizes the potential of every young woman to be a strong, talented, creative and empowered individual while providing a safe space where all girls rock, organizers said.

“I believe music instruction is a huge part of it, but also the collaborative experience of working together, forming bands and writing songs,” said Hailey Rowe, camp director. “But we also talk about social issues … how it plays into their lives.”

Camp attendee Nina Nooe, 11, returned for her second year to become a better drummer.

“I have been playing drums since I was 4 years old, and I found out about Southern Girls Rock Camp through my dad,” said Nooe. “Playing the drums in a group is more fun, and I believe I am a better drummer because of it.”

Campers spent time throughout the week building positive self-esteem while expressing themselves through music and performance.

The camp required each participant to attend a morning and afternoon assembly that loosened everyone up and allowed the girls to find their own voice and their own sound without creative boundaries, organizers said.

Southern Girls Rock Camp also featured guest five bands from various genres who entertained and interacted with the campers throughout the week. The bands included: The Friendship Commanders (a melodic punk/hard core/sludge duo), Nuclear Bubble Wrap (a psychedelic/alternative rock band), Group Nap (an indie-funk-jam band), Lemondrop Motel (a feminist five person combo), and Lemuria (an indie rock band).

Anna Murphree, a 19-year-old drummer, has been involved with the camp since she was 10 and now holds a teaching artist position for her second year as a camp volunteer.

“My sister was a part of the camp first, and I would come to the showcase,” Murphree said. “I would see girl drummers and I thought it was cool, so I wanted to do that.”

This year’s showcase will be happening at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 28, where the campers newly created bands will perform in Hinton Hall inside MTSU’S Wright Music Building.

Tickets are $12 per person, and children age 10 and under admitted free.

“A lot of times (females) are told to be quiet and be reserved,” said Murphree. “The message of empowerment will teach these kids that they can play their instruments, rock out and be loud.”

YEAH! creates programming that values collaboration over competition and seeks to give youth the tools they need to create the world that they want to live in.

For more information, or to volunteer for band managing or other guidance positions, contact Jess Hawthorne, YEAH! outreach director, at 407-280-6729 or go to www.yeahrocks.org.

For more information about the Southern Girls Rock Camp, go to http://southerngirlsrockcamp.com.

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