January 31, 2014 3:40 pm
Updated: January 31, 2014 8:34 pm

North-end Halifax recording studio a safe haven for youth

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HALIFAX – A north-end Halifax recording studio is giving youth a safe and creative outlet to express themselves.

Centreline Studio has been operating in Uniacke Square for the past three and a half years, and many youth who are involved call the area home.

Alex Ross, 16, has been attending the studio for two years and says it has helped him from heading down a road of juvenile delinquency.

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“I remember I used to do a couple bad things. All of a sudden, when I got to the studio, I think I just stayed out of trouble. I just kept on doing all my music,” he said.

Ross raps, sings and produces beats, and hopes to create a career out of performing.

“When I get out of high school, I was thinking about going to NSCC into the music industry. My plan is to go to college,” he said.

Studio co-founder Lindell Smith said the space, which also offers lessons in art, poetry and tutoring, helps empower youth in the area.

He said music in particular is a way for them to reach out to the community.

“A lot of things are focused on music. A lot of influences are from music. Why not influence youth coming up by something they listen to every day?”

The youth, whose ages range from 12 to 22, collaborate on songs, practice performing and even get a chance to record.

“What we want to do is teach them no matter if it’s music or life in general, there’s always some type of step you have to take to get to that final point,” Smith said.

Aspiring rappers and sound engineers say the studio allows them to use music, rather than other influences, to express themselves.

Jordan Williams-Joseph, 19, from Sackville works at the studio. The sound engineer said he appreciates how the space is community-based.

“It’s more directed to the youth…to have them come in and basically try to make something positive of themselves,” he said.

“Instead of singing at home with the mic and trying to do it and not going anywhere, they’re coming here, meeting a lot of other people who love the same things and working with people like me who want to see them grow up to someone they want.”

Benjamin Castrilli, 16, lives in the Uniacke neighbourhood and aspires to be a rapper.

He said the studio gives youth in the area opportunities they might not normally be able to access.

“Even if you aren’t a part of the music, you can listen, make beats and just be in a positive place instead of doing anything else,” he said.

“A lot of youth we work with have said, ‘If we weren’t here, we would either be in jail or could be somewhere else’. They can express [their feelings] through music and then go through it with all their peers,” Smith said.

Smith said his long-term goal is to open a second facility in Dartmouth that would be a bigger space but still have the same concept.

“At the end of the day, it’s about empowering youth and letting them know they’re worth it.”

Smith was recently honoured by the provincial government with an African Heritage Month plaque for his dedication to the community.

© 2014 Shaw Media

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