Dwight School students know what “Time” it is
Stephon Johnson | 10/3/2013, 6 a.m.
The joy of singing and performing music is something that unites people of all races, colors and creeds. There’s a reason why artists are revered around the world. When people differ in every aspect of life, they might share the love of an artist or a certain type of music and use that to bridge the gap.
The Dwight School emphasizes the “spark of genius” in every student and with the help of a music industry veteran; they’ve helped create the spark yet again in some of their students.
Nine Dwight students, ranging in age from 9 to 16 and representing four different countries, collaborated on the lyrics to a song titled “This Is Our Time” with Keith “Wildchild” Middleton (who most know from the show STOMP). Mikkel Eriksen, a two-time Grammy Award-winning record producer and two-time ASCAP songwriter of the year winner, composed the music to the song. The students and musicians created “This Is Our Time” with the goal of creating a school song that everyone can be proud of. From the interviews the AmNews conducted with some of the participants in the program, that goal has been accomplished.
Eriksen, who’s worked with the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ne-Yo and Katy Perry, talked about how the program started as an idea and ended with the students recording in Jay-Z’s Roc the Mic Studios.
“I do remember talking to both (Dwight School Chancellor) Stephen (Spahn) and Kirk (Spahn) about the possibility of having a Dwight song and I think the idea just came from that and we started figuring out how to actually bring it to life and how to involve the students,” said Erikson. “So we started collaborating with Keith Middleton.
“The teachers and students came up with words and feelings that described how they felt about the school and everyone started to brainstorm,” continued Eriksen. “What Keith and I did was put all those ideas together and create a song. Obviously we had to create the music and the melody and take all those pieces from the puzzle and create one solid piece of music…and we really succeeded with that.”
With words of encouragement backed by a 4/4 drumbeat, strumming acoustic guitar, hip-hop breaks and a catching melody, “This Is Our Time” is immaculately produced and arranged (and can be found with an accompanying video online). The group of students even had a chance to perform the song at Dwight School Foundation Benefit dinner at Cipirani Wall Street. But the lessons started first in the studio.
Sophie Conger, a 17-year-old student who recently began her senior year, talked about how she liked to put on shows for her parents as a kid and got into music through her mother (who studied Opera). She told the AmNews how the experience of collaboration and writing lyrics to music opened her up emotionally.
“I’ve never really seen myself as a singer,” said Conger, a New Jersey native. “I feel like it comes naturally for me, but it’s not something I can see myself doing for a career.” As for the studio experience, Conger called it “incredible.”