Lake Oconee Academy (LOA) music students were fortunate enough to cross paths with a musical powerhouse during an impromptu lunch visit at school in late October. Three-time Grammy Award-winning music producer Darius “Deezle” Harrison was invited to lunch at school by LOA parent Mark DeMattei and the result was a full-blown production resulting in a song co-produced by Deezle and LOA students titled “Let Your Light Shine.”
“Mr. Deezle,” as he became known to the students, stopped by LOA for lunch and was asked to speak to the chorus group for a moment about his career as a producer. What happened next was the opportunity of a lifetime for LOA music students.
“The kids had really legitimate questions about how I do what I do as a music producer and how the process worked, not just what I did,” said Deezle, who resides in Los Angeles. “I had some equipment in the car, so I thought, ‘I’ll just show you.’ This was a completely spontaneous experience. From the first drumbeat, an interest was sparked in these students. Then the next class period more kids showed up, then a few more and a few more. They inspired a song in that moment.”
The band and chorus students laid down the song structure and melodic structure in that initial session, and with a promise from Deezle to come back the following Friday to complete the song, they got to work. Deezle did some minor production work on the track and then emailed the melody and chorus lyrics back to LOA band director Courtney Pilgrim. The students practiced their parts, worked on the lyrics, and were ready for their final recording on Friday, October 31.
“This was a true collaboration,” explained Deezle, “I came up with the first couple verses and the students worked on the rest of the lyrics. Then they came up with the horn part after being inspired by the piano part and so on. I was thoroughly impressed with what they came up with.”
The LOA team of music educators – Courtney Pilgrim (band director), Amy Reber (piano instructor) and Juli Malcom (music and chorus instructor) – were thrilled for their students to have the experience of creating music with an accomplished producer who showed them how to express themselves creatively and truly “let their light shine.” The students will be premiering the track at their Winter Concert and the Southland Jubilee in downtown Greensboro, Ga.
“This was an unbelievable opportunity for our kids, “said Mrs. Pilgrim. “The excitement was through the roof. Deezle shared an amazing message with students that hard work, dedication and never giving up always pays off in the end.”
“This was a great experience and I hope it inspired the students to practice and devote their time to excellence in their musical craft,” Deezle said. “Band saved my life. When I was young I could either dedicate my time to doing things that would take away my freedom or I could go practice my horn. Music broadened my horizons - it gave me the ability to perform and travel, and allowed me to generate income even as a teenager. My path has been an interesting and winding road.”
Deezle was born and raised in New Orleans. La., and was influenced by the rich sounds of the New Orleans music scene and by his uncle who played the bass. Deezle picked up the alto saxophone in the 4th grade and joined the band. At the age of 15 he was playing in the halftime show of the Super Bowl. His Grammy awards resulted from his co-producing and sound engineering work with rapper Lil Wayne on the song “Lollipop” and the album “Tha Carter III.”
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Contact: Kerry Minster