Louisvillians love their local music, and local hip-hop artist Jecorey “1200” Arthur is no exception. He also loves Louisville’s kids, as evidenced by his gig as a music teacher at Hite Elementary and the inclusion of some of his students at his big album release party earlier this year.
Arthur spoke with Insider about what guests can expect, and the spark of inspiration that moved him to create this performance.
“I performed at the (New York City) 92nd Street Y’s musical introduction series, and we played nearly for 5,000 kids over the course of three days, at six different shows. It was crazy,” says Arthur.
The experience led him to consider the state of musical education in Louisville.
“New York City … they have support for arts education like no other, and we don’t,” he explains. “So this raised a lot of concerns for me in terms of what I wanted to do when I came back to Louisville to make this city better.”
Then, as fate would have it, organizers from the Kentucky Center contacted Arthur to see if he had any ideas for summer programing.
“This was at the top of my list of projects I wanted to put in action, and they partnered with me, and now I’m making it happen,” he says.
Arthur had previously teamed with the center for his concert in January, and he hopes to continue the partnership.
“So I’m really hoping in the future Kentucky Center and I can have a more solidified relationship,” he says.
He hopes that relationship might involve future concerts for young people. Arthur sees Saturday’s event as sort of a pilot for a program he’d love to help bring to JCPS students. According to the musician, there aren’t nearly enough opportunities for those students to interact with music.
“We have 92 elementary schools in JCPS; less than half have music teachers,” he says. “As tax-paying citizens, we expect … a more rounded education for everyone, and that includes the arts. A lot of students don’t experience that. My hope with the program is to fill that void.”
The show will feature several genres of music, each one presented by a local musician. Folk and bluegrass will come courtesy of Cheyenne Mize; there will be jazz from musician Kendall Carter; for rock ‘n’ roll, Arthur tapped a newer group, Church Friends; and, of course, Arthur and his crew will bring hip-hop to the table.
The program won’t just be music, though. It includes music curricula aimed at filling the gaps in some kids’ music education.
“When I was teaching music at Hite, I always ended the school year using contemporary music — it’s kind of the end-of-the-school celebration so to speak,” says Arthur. “So I kind of took those lesson plans from the classroom level and recreated them for a stage, for a theater … so instead of teaching it to 24 kids, I can teach 600 kids.”
For collaborators on the project, Arthur sought musicians from different genres, but they also needed a set of skills outside their musical abilities and stage presence.
“These genres are very prominent within the local music scene, so I just looked at artists that fit to the mold as well as artists I felt could really come onto the stage and not only be a great musician, but also a great presenter, a great teacher for these students,” he says.
Arthur also wanted his collaborators to represent a wide slice of Louisvillians so the kids can see people who were raised all over the city.
According to Arthur, the kids also need to see the different musicians working together.
“At the very end of the event, we’re going to come together and jam, so every act — my crew, Cheyenne, Church Friends and Kendall Carter — will all jam together.”
That musical melange speaks to Arthur’s hopes for the future of the program.
“This is symbolic, not only for music buy also just to show the students that no matter what your demographic is, no matter where you come from, we can unite. Music belongs to everyone, and you should have the right to experience it.”
The “Young Person’s Guide to Local Music” hits the stage on Saturday, July 8, at 4 p.m. at the Kentucky Center. The performance is free and open to the public.