Ryan McDermott
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Ryan McDermott

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF

Los Angeles, California, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Soul


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""Artist on the Rise" gives lesson to Grammy's young talent"

GRAMMY Camper Ryan McDermott pulled up a green plastic chair in room 319 of Citrus College's video technology building and settled in.

Just five minutes before, the tall, dark-haired 19-year-old had been sitting in the back of the classroom before, his guitar resting on his knees, his fingers lightly strumming its strings.

He began by introducing his song to 12 other young aspiring musicians.

"You said earlier that songs have stories. This song has a story. I wrote it the day I got this guitar, on my 18 birthday."

McDermott led the way with "The Search."

McDermott's deep, soothing vocals, consumed with emotion, held his audience in silence, including one special onlooker.

"That was a great song. I wish I had written it," said Columbia Records artist Brandi Carlile.

According to McDermott, he was not too familiar with the VH1 "You Oughta Know" artist when he first learned she would be hosting the day's workshop. However, after he watched the folk-enthused songstress perform at the end of the singer/songwriter workshop, McDermott recognized Carlile as a genuine artist.

"When she sang, I was totally blown away," McDermott said. "I saw how much of herself she put into her music, and that was really inspiring. To hear that from her, it was really nice."

McDermott is one of 60 students attending the third annual GRAMMY Camp at Citrus College.

GRAMMY Camp 2007 is 17-day summer music intensive for 60 of the most talented young student singers, songwriters, performers and composers in the United States.

The program explores 15 different career tracks while offering the students hands-on experience, with instruction from Citrus College faculty and industry professionals, including GRAMMY award-winning and GRAMMY nominated artists.

Carlile, one GRAMMY Camp's recording professionals, sat in on July 18's singer/songwriter workshop and assisted with instruction. The campers performed for Carlile, and were given feedback and advice.

"That's a sad song," Carlile said after McDermott finished performing. "I love sad songs. I love that they are able to sometimes make people feel on the edge of uncomfortable."

McDermott's "sad song" was followed by a few of his fellow campers.

April Bender, 17, of Basking Ridge, New Jersey, seated herself at the piano. Her fingers soon began to do the talking with "Compatible."

Bender combined an up-beat piano tempo with Sarah Mclachlan/Kelly Clarkson-inspired vocals.

"I'm really impressed. That was great," Carlile said.

Lynda DeFuria, 17 of Las Vegas, Nev. followed Bender, followed at the piano with a song titled "Alive."

Sean Fitzpatrick of Waterman, Ill. sang his song "Sleepy Eyes." Clearly enjoying himself, John Avila, the Vocal Performance/Songwriting teaching artist more popularly known as the bassist of "Oingo Boingo," joined in on guitar and occasionally mouthing the lyrics to Fitzpatrick's song,

After the campers showcased their talents, Carlile borrowed a camper's guitar, took a seat and performed two songs that raised goose bumps.

Carlile treated her audience to one of her newest songs that has yet to be released. However, the real treat came after Barry Harris, a 15-year-old from Glenolden, Pa., suggested that she perform her rendition of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

Carlile closed her eyes, projecting her aching voice throughout the room. All whispers, shuffling and fidgeting came to a halt. All eyes and ears focused on her.

"It was awesome," Harris said, looking pleased with his song suggestion. "I was completely fixated on her. The emotion and passion in her performance was hypnotizing."

Before her departure, Carlile took a minute to pose for a group picture, leaving young musicians with a few inspiring words.

"You guys are amazing. I'm just glad I got signed now and not five or 10 years from now when you all will be getting signed." - The Clarion

"GRAMMY Camp nurtures young talent"

Instead of spending their summer vacation roasting marshmallows around a campfire and playing truth or dare, 60 young musicians from around the country camped out at Citrus College GRAMMY-style.

The third annual GRAMMY Camp was held on campus July 14-31 in partnership with the Citrus College Fine and Performing Arts department.

GRAMMY Camp is a music intensive experience designed to help young artists explore 12 different music career tracks, including audio engineering, film scoring, music production and music journalism, and performance career tracks in keyboard, guitar, bass, drums, saxophone, trumpet, trombone and songwriting.

The 17-day camp is designed to offer hands-on experience and individual instruction with music industry professionals, as well as Citrus College faculty.

"The camp is completely immersive," said Patrick Bolek, camp director of education initiatives. "We encourage a collaborative spirit. We give the campers the tools and technology they need that will help make them successful."

The 60 campers, ages 15-19, were selected by members of the GRAMMY Foundation out of about 200 applicants.

"We wanted 100 campers, but due to great financial need and limited resources, we were only able to accept 60 campers," Bolek said.

The $3,500 tuition cost covered lodging, meals, instructional materials and transportation to field trips. The Foundation contributed more than $100,000 in financial aid.

"We tried to reach out to a larger demographic while also keeping the camp small," Bolek said.

Would-be campers submitted a two-page application that described their musical background. Applicants also submitted a video essay in which they answered 10 questions; two letters of recommendation from the applicants' teachers or guidance counselor; and career track-specific audition materials.

Citrus College provided teaching facilities, two recording studios and 40 digital audio workstations. Campers had all the equipment and technology they needed to create original, self-produced material.

The campers had the opportunity to learn valuable industry lessons from 66 guest artists such as Christian Scott; Earth, Wind and Fire; Fergie; and Lamont Dozier. The campers performed their original songs and received feedback from the professionals.

Alan Waddington, Citrus College instructional lab technician, assisted with instruction and helped develop the camp's schedule and showcase performances. Waddington has participated in all three camps at Citrus.

"I have formed friendships from my experience at GRAMMY Camp," Waddington said. "For the campers, the experience is very special to them. It's an intense 17 days and then it's over. It's important for me to keep in touch with them."

Waddington said he takes a different teaching approach with the campers than he does with his Citrus students.

"There is a very different vibe when working with the campers than with Citrus students," Waddington said.

"The campers are from all around the country and are younger as an overall group. On average, they come into camp on a higher level of talent than most Citrus College students do at entrance into the program."

Waddington predicted that many of the campers would succeed in the music industry.

"They are different than the typical Citrus student who has worked through the program and who may not necessarily be rated as highly talented when they walk in the door. Citrus students work their way up to that level."

Ryan McDermott, a 19-year-old singer/songwriter from Palo Alto, Calif. and ASCAP Foundation singer/songwriter scholarship recipient, is his No. 1 pick, Waddington said.

"He floored me when I saw him perform. His voice is just incredible. He has the talent, the look and the brains to make it in the industry," Waddington said. "He gets high marks on my list. You will definitely see him working in the industry very soon."

McDermott said the camp helped him rediscover his passion for music.

"Music can become like a job. It's easy to forget why you make music and why it's important," McDermott said. "GRAMMY Camp reminded me of why I want to make music in the first place-to express myself."

Bolek said the greatest part of camp is the teamwork among the campers.

McDermott agreed. He described the collaboration with the other campers as refreshing.

"It's amazing how much you can get from spending two and a half weeks with other really talented musicians," he said. "If you're always working and playing by yourself, you are limited to your own ideas, but to be around so many other talented musicians constantly every day, you are given new ideas and perspectives to feed off of."

Another of Waddington's high-ranked "picks" is signer/songwriter and pianist Barry Harris, 15, of Philadelphia, Pa.

According to Waddington, Harris said he strives to be like his hero, Barry Manilow.

"Barry is goofy and over-the-top, but it works for him and he's so good at what he does," Waddington said.

Harris said he was impressed by his fellow campers' talent and was excited to work with them.

"I came to camp and I found out that my own bass player, who's a virtuoso on the bass, can actually outplay me on the piano," Harris said.

"When I meet these people with musical genius, I feel about an inch small, but that's why it's worth it, to collaborate with the campers and get their input and work with ideas they have.

"I'm really privileged to be with all these kids who are almost definitely going to go on to something big," Harris said.

Columbia Records and VH1 "You Oughta Know" artist Brandi Carlile who taught a July 18 singer/songwriting workshop, said she also was impressed.

"You guys are amazing," she said. "I'm just glad I got signed now and not five or 10 years from now when you all will be getting signed."

The GRAMMY campers compiled three CDs of their own work and performed two showcases of the music they created while at camp.

Bolek said he wishes all the campers good luck.

"If any kid got the opportunity to work in the industry, we just want to feel as though we helped this young artist get there," Bolek said.

For more information on GRAMMY Camp, visit www.grammyintheschools.com.
- The Clarion


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