Clean listening: Local program aims to erase profanity from music

Through Mobile Music Mission, kids learn to create, produce, and record their original tunes. Photo: Elli Williams Through Mobile Music Mission, kids learn to create, produce, and record their original tunes. Photo: Elli Williams

Have you ever really stopped and listened to lyrics like those in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” or Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty?” It’s startling when you hear some of the words that kids sing today.

But that’s where programs like Mobile Music Mission come in. As a local company that lets kids become a part of the process, Mobile Music Mission is helping to redefine the values of the music industry.

Mobile Music Mission has paired up with the Southwood Boys & Girls Club of Charlottesville to educate teens about music production. They meet once a week, working with mobile technology and the music-recording software GarageBand to record and produce their own masterpieces. The program’s big focus is on moving away from the morally questionable lyrics of many of today’s top hits.

“We are trying to change music back to its roots—to its core,” said co-founder Joseph Young. Along with artist Matt Jaeger, Joseph began an endeavor that offers kids a more positive musical environment than the one they’ll find on the radio. Kids write their own lyrics (sans profanity) and create their own music videos (sans naked Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball). And it turns out they’re really good at it. Back in February, they entered their song into the Sony Digital Arts Festival. They’re still waiting on the contest results, but everyone has high hopes.

“It is really exciting, and just by doing that, we feel like it’s good for the kids, putting that message in their heads,” Young said. The program isn’t just geared toward musicians, though. Young explained how many of the kids are involved in the production side of things. It’s another one of the program’s goals: that the music industry is an inclusive, safe place for everyone.

“We create an environment where anyone can speak any ideas that they might have. It’s something kids struggle with. Adults struggle with it, too. And in reality, a lot of great ideas are never spoken because of that,” Young said.

In the end, Young and Jaeger are doing something that all of us can get behind. “The kids are loving it, we’re having a lot of fun with it, and I think it’s a good program that other schools and organizations can adopt,” Young said.—Stephanie DeVaux