Today we’d like to introduce you to Lynel Goodwin.
Lynel, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
While in school at Bethune-Cookman University in 2011, I had a little bit of time to myself, while I waited for graduation in the Summer. At that time, the University did not offer winter graduation, and I had finished my course study in December. My father, who also is a musician/entrepreneur had already started a non-profit organization that was geared towards music advocacy in an urban school for elementary and middle school level by the name of Musical Youth of America. We decided to expand upon this idea, and create an organization that would be specifically geared towards the high school sector of public schools for fine arts.
As fine arts is always under scrutiny and up for budget cuts, we felt the need for there to be an organization that could advocate actively for the arts in our schools. So we created Band Room Nation, an organization whose mission is to support and promote high school programs across America. Our plan was to host events and initiatives that would give young people the platform to showcase their talents, which would create an appreciation for the arts within our communities. As long as the community saw value in it, we believed that the community would fight for its existence. We also dreamed of an organization that would be able to give fine arts students scholarship opportunities for school.
We started off with just one event in 2011, The Southeastern Regional Danceline Championship, a dance competition in which we award a deserving dance team $1000 for winning our competition. This competition takes place every March, and we are currently in the planning stages for this event. From then, every year, we have been fortunate enough to grow and add at least 1 new event or initiative per year. Our honor bands have performed for the Atlanta Jazz Festival (World Class Jazz), Six Flags, the WNBA (The Band Of Champions) and a host of various festivals in and around the City of Atlanta. Our events have reached crowd numbers in the thousands and we have invested over $44,000 in fine arts programs.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has absolutely not been a smooth road. Some of the biggest obstacles have been finding people who are pure of heart, who share the same passion of wanting to see our youth become successful. Everything in the first couple of years was done by myself, my father, a business partner of his and a volunteer here and there. There were moments where I would be hosting a competition as an MC, while literally running backstage and making sure everything behind the scenes was running smoothly as well. People would come and go as they realize just how tedious the task of assisting with running the organization could be. But now, in 2018 I find myself as the CEO and chairman of one of the most dynamic groups of individuals that I am proud to call my Board of Directors.
Another obstacle was creating that dynamic with the heads of these music programs. As you can imagine, educators are very protective of their children and what they choose to participate in. “Event Promoters” have a negative connotation in our community and have caused many fine arts directors to be skeptical of what events they participate in. These promoters have been known to take advantage of programs and extort programs leaving them with little return. As the new kids on the block, it took some intense efforts, with convincing people of our pure intentions and showing people that we are not event “promoters” and showing them exactly what we are about. But I can definitely say that now, Band Room Nation has a stellar reputation of putting children first and hosting some of the best fine arts events and initiatives period.
Please tell us about Band Room Nation.
Band Room Nation is an organization whose mission is to promote and support high school fine arts programs across America. In this, we host various events and initiatives that we hope will foster an appreciation for the arts in our public school systems. Our roster currently contains 4 events and 4 initiatives. We host marching band showcases, dance line and drumline competitions, have fielded All-Star Jazz Bands that have performed on major stages and All-Star Marching Bands that have performed for the WNBA. We also have a Music Madness tour that takes individuals into classrooms to share with the students the “awesomeness” of music.
What sets us apart from everyone else, is that our programs are truly student experience centered. Each and every one of our programs or showcases is its own experience in and of itself. We want the students to feel special and validated for being an active participant in their school’s fine arts programs. We host photo shoots so that actual students can be used in our advertisements and we let the students and their parents and directors have the photos free of charge. This makes the experience more personal to the students participating. We also offer unprecedented ticket sale incentives, so that each program that participates in our events, has the opportunity to make money that can be invested in their programs. Programs have walked away from our events making $1200+, purely off of ticket sales.
What makes me most proud about my organization is how hard the Board of Directors works to make stuff happen, as well as seeing the students faces as they walk into one of our events to perform. Seeing the determination on their faces as they perform or seeing their reaction as they are served food free of charge and being treated like the superstars they truly are. At our dance competition, a young dancer was offered a scholarship to dance at Spelman College, on the spot, which was her dream school. The young lady burst into tears and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. This is what Band Room Nation is about.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite memory from childhood was being in elementary school and a representative came in during a presentation and introduced musical instruments to us as little 3rd graders. I remember her holding up a trumpet and me thinking, “THAT is the instrument for me”.
As soon as my dad picked me up, I told him that’s what I wanted to do. We didn’t have much money, but my dad invested in me. He made sure I had a trumpet and took private lessons. Because of this decision, I was able to pay for college and experience things I would have never been able to experience had it not been for music and band. I played in Superbowls, Probowls, video game shoots, private parties for millionaires, etc. Now I find myself, the Director of Bands at Jonesboro High School and the CEO of a music advocacy organization that gives kids like me opportunities.
- Address: 3938 Shirley Dr. Atlanta GA 30336
- Website: Bandroomnation.com
- Phone: 4046689861
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @Bandroomnation
- Facebook: @bandroomnation
- Twitter: @Bandroomnation