Taiyah Marshall stepped into the makeshift recording booth, adjusted the headphones over her ears and waited for the cue. She wrote the lines herself.
Man, I been through things
That’s never stopped me.
She rapped about family.
Yes, I got bigger problems
Like my mamma stressin’
I’m stressin’ too and I am only in my adolescence.
She rapped about struggle and success.
You can see the progression
in every stride.
She rapped about school.
My daddy told me,
‘If you gonna do it, keep bein’ a student.”
And she rapped about the thing she loves to do.
I got a perfect purpose and it’s music.
It was a Thursday afternoon, the middle of a spring break music program at the Mountain View Boys & Girls Club. Taiyah, 15, was recording a song with 14-year-old Kayona Ziegler and 21-year-old Kelly Pollard; the first song they’d ever recorded together. They wrote it Monday. It seemed to come naturally.
“To set the whole tone for it, it took us like five minutes,” Kayona said.
Taiyah wrote the first verse. Kayona took care of the chorus. The second verse was Kelly’s. The three typed their lines on smartphone note apps, and a few days later, they were putting the finishing touches on tracks they knew by heart.
They’ve all been writing their own music for years. Taiyah said she started rapping as a 10-year-old at Taku Elementary School. Now she goes to Bartlett High School, writes poetry and listens to everything from rock to rap to r&b. She admires legends like John Coltrane and Miles Davis, and she started making her own beats a few years ago.
“It’s what I wanna go to school for,” she said.
Kayona, a freshman at Dimond High School, has been taking music lessons since seventh grade, and singing since “forever.” This is the first time she’s ever recorded her music in a real studio, she said. Same for Taiyah.
Taiyah stepped into the recording booth for another take, and Kayona sat against the back wall and played with her phone while she listened. If all goes well, more people would hear their song.
“They’re gonna try to get it on the radio,” she said.