Twelve up and coming musical artists filled the Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way with their voices on Saturday, Aug. 26. They are the product of a new career building creation from Federal Way native Shyan Selah called The Artist Workshop.
The Artist Workshop is described by parent organization Brave New World as a series that “teaches practical applications to give performing artists, as well as budding entrepreneurs, a solid foundation as it pertains to working in the industry of entertainment.”
Artists included Midnite Blu, Tazz Enrico, Ayana, Jade, Shaflo, Shayla Jasmine, Gavi, O.Z., Cazzi, Pure Art, Sahanie Shell and Yung Shaedy.
The evening also featured guest performances by Sir Darion Dotson and Selah’s daughter Asia Selah. Co-hosts were Muranga Maina and Shyan Selah.
Over 150 youth and young adults participated in the workshops this year, according to materials at Saturday’s event. Artists then auditioned for a coveted spot in the final showcase.
Song styles ranged from hip-hop to reggae to pop to acoustic to a cappella. The artists each shared two pieces. Some performed original music while others put their spin on covers. A few artists included dance performance or added a guitar into the mix, and one even tossed merchandise into the crowd.
The show was framed as a competition with a professional recording opportunity as the prize. In a surprising twist at the end of the show, Selah told the lineup of rising artists that they would all get the chance to record their own single.
Selah told The Mirror that the tracks will be released in a compilation within the next year, with a goal of recording them before the new year begins.
Selah intends to make the showcase and musical compilation of new artists from Federal Way an annual occurrence. The first workshop of next year’s Artist Workshop series will start in October.
The Artist Workshop
“My ultimate goal was to take the arts culture to the sports level, respected like sports and supported like sports,” Selah told The Mirror. To him, this means creating “infrastructure and regimen and resource and coaching.”
Over the past year, eight workshops, two audition days and two career days led up to the showcase on a variety of topics related to the entertainment industry. In Selah’s words: “In essence it is an alternative education system totally designed for career path development.”
Backstage before the show, several artists shared their experience with The Mirror.
Tazz Enrico said he got a lot out of Shyan Selah’s “old school” approach. He said the exercises were often rigorous, like one where the artists learned to their control their breath in challenging positions, like on the floor on their backs with one leg in the air.
In another exercise where the artists pictured their younger selves, several people said they almost cried.
“It’s a rewarding feeling,” Tazz said of making it into the final showcase lineup. “After all the stuff we did, it’s like, I definitely deserve to be here.”
Describing Selah’s teaching and mentorship style, Tazz said that he “broke us down in the most encouraging way,” while someone else chimed in and said “he didn’t break us down, he built us up, building that kinship.”
Overall, they said the workshop taught them the power of connecting with others, especially in the entertainment and music industry.
“Win or lose, we get this new community,” said one artist.
Selah’s own artistic journey started in Federal Way. This drives his passion in focusing his outreach efforts here.
“I love my hometown, to the bone,” he told The Mirror. He said he grew up as an accomplished athlete, but had other dreams as well. “I was an artist the whole time, but I was afraid of it. I couldn’t reconcile running for three touchdowns or playing basketball and then saying ‘yeah I write poetry’…it just didn’t match up. I was one of those kids who had to kind of tuck it away.”
He said if it wasn’t for his oldest brother Marcus, who took him to studios while still in high school and showed him the ropes, he might have never pursued his artistic side.
With the artist showcase and next year’s Artist Workshop series, Selah hopes to continue to create infrastructure and the space he wishes he had had growing up.