Breaking News
More () »

New program hopes to curb gun violence with go-go music

The Department of Parks and Recreation started a new program this summer to let high schoolers make music with go-go pros.

WASHINGTON — D.C. is trying a new approach to curb gun violence -- connecting high schoolers with the city's musical roots.

They get to make a go-go band.

This summer, the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) kicked off its first Go-Go Crank Music program with go-go professional Shorty Corleone.

“We're here to change lives. We're here to save lives," Corleone said.

He teamed up with other longtime musicians to teach a group of high schoolers and young adults how to write and record music.

"Go-go, it's a good feeling," said 18-year-old Taj Pratt, or Scrappi as he likes to be called.

The city hopes to keep that good feeling alive, especially for young people who grow up in areas where they don't always feel safe.

“Just a typical Black young man growing up in the ghetto, to be honest, you know… I had good moments and bad moments," 20-year-old Jalen Michaels, a.k.a. BigGuy, said.

Other people his age are singing a more dangerous tune.

"It's always been going on," Corleone said. "But it's programs like this that will kind of curve, you know, that negative energy or curve idle time."

The program was his idea -- to give back to his city -- by keeping go-go and kids alive.

“We know music... calms a savage beast," he said.

It helps that the city was able to pay the high school students and graduates through the Department of Employment Service.

Moving forward, a DPR spokesperson said they will be able to pay participants through a partnership with the Office of Unified Communications.

"It was inspiring for all of us, because they have fun, but then they were eager to learn more and learn more," Corleone said.

Pratt said go-go has been the soundtrack of his life.

"In order for it to survive and continue to grow, there has to be another spin on it," Shorty said.

Pratt hopes to do his part.

"Make new music with old Go-Go... Make a new Go-Go, you feel me?” he said.

Neither Pratt nor Michaels, nor 23-year-old singer Cameron 'Belaire' Morgan knew each other before this summer. Now they are bonded through the band. The Columbia Heights Community Center where they practice has become a haven.

“I want to make sure people who might not have an uplifting environment, or a supportive environment, feel like they could come here and express themselves and feel safe," Morgan said.

Corleone said he's worked to create that exact environment.

"Just show them that there's someone that's listening," he said.

Michaels said he wants teens to know they're not alone.

"You have people who care about you and want to see your dreams come true," Pratt said.

The group produced an entire EP in 30 days, according to Corleone.

One of their favorites is called "Washingtonians":

Pull up on me and come vibe with me

We can get away

We in DC, it's the place to be

It's a magical place

This is the home of all my Washingtonians

Ain't no place that I would rather be than in my city

The city plans to continue investing in programs like this one.

"Through the support of Mayor Bowser, programs like this change the narrative and the landscape of opportunities for our young people which begins to spread positively throughout the community," said DPR Director Delano Hunter. "This program is a way to redirect energy and crank out a new beat of hope."

Starting the week of Dec. 6, the Crank the Music program will be touring schools throughout D.C. to recruit high school students to the next round.

Some of the locations include: Cardoza High School, Ballou High School, Dunbar High School, Eastern High School, and Monumental Academy.

If you're interested in signing up your student, click here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out