NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – More space, more resources, and a better opportunity. This semester, Joshua Akhidenor spent time crafting his talent in a new music studio located on campus that he considers a safe haven.
The music studio, which is accessible to members of the Men’s Initiative campus program, is fully loaded with quality equipment to engineer, record music, and produce beats. Akhidenor, a sophomore majoring in business, said he has been producing music since he was in high school, and is grateful to now have a place on campus to express his passion.
“I feel like I belong in here,” Akhidenor said as he sat in the studio. “It (the studio) helps me visualize who I can become. I came to college and took advantage of the networking opportunity.” Since his arrival at the university, Akhidenor has taught himself how to play the guitar and piano.
As many students utilize the space to break into the music industry, Hahidenor looks forward to one day owning a record label focused on finding talent from students enrolled at a HBCU.
The studio, located on the ground floor of Kean Hall, is painted black with neon lights around the perimeter. On the walls are graffiti art, music plaques and awards dedicated to music phenom and TSU alum Aaron ‘DUBBA-AA’ Lockhart, who funded the studio.
Lockhart, a platinum recording artist, and one of the executive producers for the Aristocrat of Bands’ gospel album The Urban Hymnal, said his efforts came about to give students studio space that he didn’t have when attending TSU.
“I wanted to give my resources and use my talents to give back to the institution that helped me become who I am today,” Lockhart said.
“I want to give the students the opportunities that they should be having on a college campus. We need something on our campus for us, by us.”
David Nyenwe, a TSU freshman majoring in business administration who also produces music, said he has not utilized the studio yet, but looks forward to the sound he can create once he does.
“A lot of people are better at music than they think, they just need the resources. So, supplying a studio for people to use, will help shed light on the talent that’s at the school,” Nyenwe said. “I feel like this is a safe haven.”
Dr. Andre Bean, director of the Men’s Initiative and interim assistant dean of student activities, said the program is all about providing support to Black male students on campus.
The Men’s Initiative currently has more than 100 members. Bean said the studio offers a great opportunity for the students to discover their hidden talents.
“We have to find new and innovative ways to engage the Black male students that are enrolled in higher education,” Bean said.
“And this space is open and available to our Men’s Initiative guys … to create beats and have an opportunity to tinker and toy with things of their interest.”
The studio is an engagement tool for the university. According to Bean, although the studio is for students in and or connected to the program, the university looks forward to one day opening another studio on a larger scale that will be accessible for everyone.
For Akhidenor, a Memphis native, who has already spent a number of hours in the facility, said it afforded him the chance to produce and “show off my talent” to Lockhart, he said.
“I appreciate the opportunity,” he added.
The Men’s Initiative mission is to plan, implement, and coordinate high-impact programming that holistically promotes persistence, academic success, and sense of belonging. The goal is to support African American/Black Male students to help them succeed each semester as they continue their studies towards graduation.
If you are interested in becoming a member of the Men’s Initiative program, email Mensinitiative@tnstate.edu.