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Collective 'Reflections'
AWOL's young hip hop artists drop their 2010 album
The kids of AWOL's 'Shattered Reflections'

For the fourth consecutive year, the sound design program at AWOL has tapped the creative vein running through Savannah youth. Shattered Reflections is an eclectic, 15–track collection of music, rhymes, sounds, samples and spoken word written and performed by aspiring artists between the ages of 13 and 19.

Available as a digital download, Shattered Reflections will be celebrated — with many of its songs performed live — at the annual AWOL Lakebash, June 16 at the Lake Mayer Pavilion.

AWOL (All Walks of Life) is an arts–based nonprofit that began as an umbrella program for Savannah area at–risk kids. However, not all the youngsters in The P.R.O.J.E.C.T.S. — as the sound design group is known — come from troubled backgrounds.

Lloyd Harold, who’s a graphic artist, a rapper (known as KidSyc) and an art instructor at Pooler Elementary School, has been facilitating the sound design program since 2007 (his partner is Patrick Rodgers, who’s also our community editor at Connect Savannah).

The young artists on Shattered Reflections are Zoe Davis, Ryan Bowers, Cer’Chawn Green, Jesse Smalls, Javon Miller, Rico Wilson, Aaron Brown, Olivia Brown, Rashad Howell – and Joey Scarver (who created all but a few of the beats on the album).

How do kids get into this particular program?

Lloyd Harold: Back around when school starts, in September, we hold auditions for our theater arts program and our sound design program. This was the first year we actually implemented auditions for the music production side – last year, we had some dedication issues, and people falling off at the end, and we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. This time we had maybe two kids fall off the wayside, but other than that we kept the same group that auditioned.

So what’s the audition process?

Lloyd Harold: We ask them to perform whatever it is their talent is – if it’s making beats, rapping, or spoken word. We just kind of make notes about whatever strengths or weaknesses that we notice. Then Pat and I talk about who we think’ll work, who’s too young, or too old, who may have transportation issues. Who might have the “solo artist” mentality, and maybe won’t want to work with a group of kids.

Does the project have a theme at the beginning, or does that reveal itself as the songs appear?

Lloyd Harold: We definitely don’t give tell them “This is what you have to write about.” Because we want it to be as organic, and as true to their viewpoint, as possible. So while we do give them songwriting techniques, and figurative language stuff, and teach them about hip hop history and sampling, we give them a toolkit and tell them to build whatever they want to build out of it.

Why is it called Shattered Reflections?

Lloyd Harold: They’d all give you probably a bunch of different answers, but I think the gist of it is: Maybe the image you had of yourself before was negative, or arrogant ... it’s kind of like breaking that mirror and then seeing all the different positive aspects of yourself. So when you shatter that mirror, instead of seeing that one reflection, you’ve got several different, smaller mirrors. It’s like searching yourself and finding out whatever it is that makes you tick, rather than just ticking.

The logical question, then, is what kind of changes do you see in these kids, over the weeks and months that you work on the project?

Lloyd Harold: I think the most obvious change that you see is, usually those kids that you see come in and they’re still deep into their shell, after a month or two you kind of see them coming in and greeting everybody. And by the end of the project they’re onstage. You’d never guess it was the same person that we started out with. That’s the most exciting thing to see.

Then you’ve got kids that come in with that “solo artist” mentality, but they end up learning how to collaborate. And learning how to take somebody else’s opinion seriously, and incorporate it into the whole idea.
Everybody gets a sense of “group work” and collaborative effort. I think that’s the biggest thing that we pass on to all of them.

AWOL Lakebash 2010

Where: Lake Mayer, Montgomery Cross Road

When: 5–8 p.m. Wednesday, June 16

Admission: Free