Grammy winner Kimya Dawson will be playing a free concert Friday (June 10) in Artesian Commons Park downtown.
Sharing the bill with Dawson and Olympia favorite DBST, which plays funk, blues and rock, will be several young hip-hop artists, participants in The Bridge, a songwriting-performing program offered by Community Youth Services.
The Bridge’s eight-week workshops offer youths, including those who faced major life challenges, an education in hip-hop and in self-expression. Each workshop culminates with a recording session and a performance. Past participants performed at the Washington State Fair, Capital City Pride events and Arts Walk.
The Bridge has “helped a lot of kids become stronger communicators and build confidence,” said Bobby Williams, the program leader and one half of the hip-hop duo Double B & Laces. “We’ve seen kids who started off pretty shy and reserved grow to be some of the leaders of the program.”
“I loved rapping. And I wanted to perform, and I didn’t really have a lot going on,” said Gryffen Murray, 18, who participated in the program three times over the past year and a half, and recently served as an intern for a new group of kids.
“The Bridge is there to give kids an outlet,” he said. “It gives kids a community. It helps them move forward and grow.”
Murray admitted he was slacking off on earning a GED when his mom, Keylee Marineau of Community Youth Services, suggested he join the program. “I didn’t have a hobby or anything,” he said.
He now has his degree and a job and is excited about performing at and helping with the concert series.
Dawson, who moved from Olympia to Seattle recently, got involved with CYS because she was excited about the program’s support for young people, Williams said. “She’s a big advocate for youth.”
Dawson remembers well what it felt like to be a teen.
“I swore to myself to not forget what it’s like,” she told the Olympian in 2007. “Because I’m in close in contact with the kids who are into my music online and when I’m traveling, I do stay in touch with it more than someone who grows up and gets a job. What I do involves being around teens every night.”
Dawson isn’t the series’ only Grammy connection this summer, Williams said. Wanz, who sang on Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ Grammy-winning song “Thrift Shop,” will headline a Bridge concert July 22.
The summer concerts, which last year drew crowds of 80-150 people, raise The Bridge’s profile and provide a fun and positive reason for crowds to gather at Artesian Commons Park.
“That area has a lot of controversy around it,” Williams said. “We trying to do something that meets everyone on their level, and we’re trying to make it a positive space.”
The Bridge Summer Concert Series
What: The Bridge, a Community Youth Services program, teaches youths to write and perform hip-hop songs. A series of summer concerts will feature participating youths, professional musicians and more.
When: 6:30 p.m. Friday (June 10) and June 24, July 8 and 22, and Aug. 5.
Where: Artesian Commons Park, 415 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia.
Watch: To learn more about The Bridge, check out the program’s video at bit.ly/25Pk0qb.
Friday (June 10): Kimya Dawson, DBST.
June 24: B-Boy Battle hosted by Red Pepper Dave.
July 8: Baggage, Ang P of Real Life Clique, comedians and a dunk tank.
July 22: Wanz, Double B & Laces, Old Growth Poetry Collective.
Aug. 5: Patron, Beat Battle hosted by Smoke M2D6.