Signal Boost in Rewind

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In 2021, Luma Legacy proudly brought Signal Boost to life - a competition for youth to speak up about the issues that matter to them most. Our pilot of the program ran in Flint, Michigan in partnership with local nonprofit Shop Floor Theatre Company.

We kicked things off in the fall with an open call for submissions from 14-23 year-olds from the Flint area to submit an original song, rap, or poem about any issue they cared about. From there, a review crew of professionals with backgrounds in advocacy, music, and entertainment narrowed it down to five finalists, who truly all brought a different energy and story to the table:

From left to right: Bleau McCray-Morel, Jenna Clark, Messiah Douglas, Jo Ikigai, Kameron Motley
From left to right: Bleau McCray-Morel, Jenna Clark, Messiah Douglas, Jo Ikigai, Kameron Motley

In mid-November, finalists participated in a two day workshop where they got professionally mixed-and-mastered recordings of their tracks and were mentored by local artists and activists.

All of this was in preparation for their big showcase at The Capitol Theatre in downtown Flint on December 9th. The finalists performed for hundreds of community members and a panel of judges. The concert also featured three established musicians from the area.

After an intense deliberation, the judges were ready to share the results. Confetti cannons blasted and balloons fell from the ceiling when Bleau was announced the first place winner of the night. His prize was $2,500 cash and a matching donation to the nonprofit of his choice. Jo took home the audience favorite prize - $1,500 cash and a matching donation to the nonprofit of their choice.

Jo Ikigai wins Audience Favorite
Jo Ikigai wins Audience Favorite
Bleau McCray-Morel wins First Place
Bleau McCray-Morel wins First Place

All five finalists received time at a Flint recording studio to continue honing their craft - and the three runners-up won $500 and matching donations to nonprofits of their choosing.

The impact of Signal Boost was felt not only by our finalists and implementing partners, but by the community at large. 83% of survey respondents said that they felt more connected to their community at the end of that night than they did before.

Seeing these young artists' talent and confidence blossom over the course of the competition was so rewarding. Whether or not they pursue music professionally, this experience has instilled in them the belief that they're capable of great things. - Kate Glantz

Watch the documentary below to see how it all went down!