For Akeal Evans, a career in music isn’t just an aspiration, it’s a lifelong calling.
“My mom often says I have been making rhythms since before I was born,” he said. “Music has been a major part of my life forever and it will never go away. No matter what, it will always make its way back to me.”
Evans, who recently earned his Bachelor of Music degree from Morehouse College, was one of the recipients of the 2021 “Your Future is Now” scholarship presented by the Recording Academy’s Black Music Collective and Amazon Music. Three promising music students from historically Black colleges and universities were selected as the first recipients, earning a $10,000 scholarship along with the opportunity to take part in a two-week immersive rotation program with Amazon Music.
Jawan Davidson from North Carolina Central University and Nyah Hardmon from Howard University rounded out the three winners selected for the inaugural class.
“I applied and didn’t think I would win, but I took a chance on myself,” said Davidson. “I always knew I would have a career in music. I believe every moment of my life has led up to where I am today.”
During their two-week rotation, the students went behind the scenes at Amazon Music in Los Angeles and in New York to meet with music industry leaders and innovators. They participated in workshops and visited iconic recording spaces to inspire their work and help them hone essential skills for their future careers. We caught up with Evans and Davidson to learn more about their experience, goals, and vision for the future. Read on to get to know two music industry stars in the making.
What makes you most excited about your future in music?
Evans: I know one of my main purposes and missions is to create amazing music that can impact people, whether it be one or 1 million.
Davidson: As humans, we’re all connected by one simple thing: shared experiences. As an artist, I want to continue finding new ways to tell my story, as well as the experiences and stories of others. I’m passionate about exploring the world and inspiring others.
What was it like to work at Amazon Music for two weeks?
Davidson: We met with industry leaders to learn about the process behind facilitating catalog music, marketing, sync licensing, artist relations, and the editorial process. There are so many moving components to the music industry and within Amazon Music, and it was exciting to learn about them all.
Evans: We had the opportunity to meet with so many amazing people in the music industry during the two-week experience. I was amazed at the time they poured into working with me and my fellow program recipients to help us grow.
What was your favorite part of your experience?
Evans: I have so many favorite parts, but one of the top experiences was hearing from music industry pros at Amazon Music about how they reached their career goals, what motivates their success, and how they approach the creative process.
Davidson: My favorite part of the experience was visiting the United Recording studio in Los Angeles. It was cool to experience the immersive Dolby Atmos system. It felt like we were actually inside of the recording session—it was the coolest thing ever. I also enjoyed seeing all of the pictures of the legends and icons who have created work there.
What are some of the most valuable learnings you took away from the program?
Evans: As a creative, it was valuable to learn about the business aspect of music from the music streaming-services point of view. It gave me knowledge of possible routes I can go as a musician and where I might be able to take my career. I also learned that staying connected and maintaining good relationships with people is important. I plan to stay connected with all the amazing people I met at Amazon as I continue my career journey.
Davidson: There were so many amazing things I learned throughout the experience. A few of my most memorable takeaways were learning how to facilitate my skills within the industry, market my work, and network for opportunities.
Evans: My next step is to help initiate programs to uplift youth in underserved communities and help them find opportunities in music. I’m passionate about giving back to the community, as well as social and systemic reform. In Baltimore, the school systems do not receive as much funding and support when it comes to the arts. There is a large amount of talent in the city and children deserve to have the opportunities and resources to develop their skills within these arenas. I also plan to continue my work in production and composing music, as well as playing live.
Davidson: After completing my Bachelor of Music, Jazz Studies, I want continue my journey as a recording artist, composer, and singer-songwriter. I’d also like to travel after graduation, get into the studio, continue to find new ways to express myself as an artist, and start to release my own music.
Four more recipients have been selected for the 2022 program. Their rotation with Amazon Music will begin this fall. Learn more about the “Your Future is Now” scholarship program.