The Music Lab was formed out of vocalist Grace Weber’s desire to give back to her city. Looking for a community partner, Weber reached out to 88Nine. Radio Milwaukee is one of the organizations transforming Milwaukee and galvanizing people to participate in its revitalization. Our unique mission, talented staff and Walker’s Point home makes us uniquely equipped to spearhead this effort. GWML channels the momentum in our music scene, while also addressing the city’s unique racial and social challenges by educating and uniting area youth.
GWML takes place monthly during the school year at Radio Milwaukee’s studios, reaching up to 100 youth per event. A critical element is recruiting participants from across Milwaukee to facilitate connections between students who may otherwise never meet. Partnerships with youth development organizations and high schools support recruitment efforts. Each Lab begins with a 30-minute educational module led by a professional musician or industry expert about different elements of the music business. The next hour is devoted to students’ open mic performances. After each performance, teaching artists and guests lead short, affirmative critiques and conversations with the students.
In the interest of safety during COVID-19, GWML quickly pivoted to virtual programming in March, and saw an increase in attendance with an amazing 606 participants in May’s Lab!
GWML’s caliber relies on the passion and expertise of artists involved, stoking enthusiasm, drawing on real life expertise and providing actionable feedback. We are proud of the musicians and educators who make this possible:
Founder – Grace Weber is a Milwaukee-born, Grammy-winning vocalist, actively working out of LA and returning to Milwaukee for each in-person Lab. With extensive connections in the industry, she is perfectly positioned to program events that are relevant and compelling to young artists.
Music Education Coordinator – Britney Freeman-Farr/B~Free, an educator and accomplished vocalist and flutist, oversees GWML. She brings her experience as a former school music director and practicing artist.
Grace and Britney represent white and Black communities, private and public schooling and a broad range of experiences, making them understanding and responsive to the students they serve. Further, GWML incorporates student voices through surveys, interviews and an internship program. Examples of past featured guests include Jamila Woods; Aja Monet; WebsterX; Nate Fox, Nico Segal, and Peter Cottontail of The Social Experiment; Lex Allen; Kweku Mandela and Elliott Skinner.
An important investment in the soul of a city is creating opportunities for youth to participate and benefit from a thriving music scene. We believe that student collaboration through music is critical to bridging the divides in Milwaukee communities. We hope that new friendships — and maybe even Milwaukee’s next big thing — will form.