Academy in Atlanta gets a recording studio

Ric Ross, founded of the Music Education Group, was instrumental in getting a professional sound studio installed at B.E.S.T. Academy.

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Ric Ross, founded of the Music Education Group, was instrumental in getting a professional sound studio installed at B.E.S.T. Academy.

It’s been some time in the making, but Ric Ross’ dream of training the next generation of music execs has come to life at B.E.S.T. Academy, an all-boys public school in northwest Atlanta.

Ross founded the Music Education Group 19 years ago to teach life skills and develop the careers of youngsters interested in music, film and digital media. Since 2013, he’s been a partner with B.E.S.T., which has a 100% enrollment of minority and economically disadvantaged students in grades six through 12.

“We’d been having these conversations for years, and every time I went to the school, I asked the principal about finding a space,” said Ross. “Then one day he showed me a room that was perfect; all we had to do was purchase the equipment and make some minor changes.”

In late September, the fully furnished facility opened its doors with approximately $100,000 worth of state-of-the-art, professional equipment from computers and microphones to sound and mixing boards. The studio also incorporates space for lectures and a green screen room for videos and podcasts. But the former director for Capitol Records wants to teach more than the glamorous side of the business.

“I’ve been in the record industry almost 40 years and worked across genres, and I’ve never had a mic in my hand,” he said. “Artists are very talented, but many often lack social and life skills. When I started this organization, I wanted to incorporate soft skills into everything we do, from how to deal with people to conflict resolution.”

Students learn about the industry before setting foot in the studio. The curriculum focuses on details around job opportunities, salaries and required education.

“I’ve had kids come in who say they want to be producers, then they come in here and want to be engineers,” said Ross.

Ray Singer, the program director for the nonprofit 100 Black Men of Atlanta who has been part of the B.E.S.T. team since 2007, said Ross brings essential real-world knowledge to the students.

“He brings in great guests who make students aware of different career opportunities in the music industry, especially in the Atlanta area,” said Singer. “He’s exposing them to things they wouldn’t otherwise get to be around.”

The 15 students in the program spend about three hours during school time in the studio and often work on projects after the final bell and on Saturdays. Ross said it’s usually difficult to get them out of the studio and to their next class.

“I have to tell them to leave,” he said. “It’s so great to hear how appreciative and enthusiastic they are. They stop me in the hallway and say they can’t fathom that we really have a studio in our school. It’s life changing.”

For Ross, a native Atlantan who attended the city’s public schools, it’s a way to inspire the next generation.

“B.E.S.T. has always been special to me,” he said. “We want to give these young Black men the best opportunities and expose them to as many things as we can to give them a chance in life. Whether they go into the record industry, I don’t care. It’s really about making sure they have a solid foundation for business and life.”

Information about B.E.S.T. Academy is online at atlantapublicschools.us/besths.


SEND US YOUR STORIES. Each week we look at programs, projects and successful endeavors at area schools, from pre-K to grad school. To suggest a story, contact H.M. Cauley at hm_cauley@yahoo.com or 770-744-3042.

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