Grammy-nominated producer and Kansas City native giving back through music

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City’s 18th and Vine District has a history rooted in music. A music studio is hoping to help revive the area while giving young adults a fresh approach to life.

Multiple Grammy-nominated producer and Kansas City native Joseph Macklin runs the show. He says creativity is the key.

Up the stairs at the Black Archives of Mid-America you’ll find a studio making more than music. Macklin, or “Jo Blaq,” gives metro kids an avenue of opportunity to stay out of trouble and become successful.

“The biggest reason I’m doing these classes is so these kids can dream again,” Macklin said.

This Wyandotte County native wears many hats as he splits his time between Kansas City and Los Angeles. Macklin teaches audio engineering, music theory and coding classes through the Full Employment Council and University of Central Missouri for free.

“We wanted to not just leave them, and after the class if they had nowhere to go we wanted to offer them an internship,” Macklin said.

It’s a paid internship. Macklin said they bring in employers, then his students show off their skills and hopefully land a job.

“Sometimes it starts off a little rough, but eventually they’re like, ‘Jo , man, you have no idea how much this is changing my life,'” Macklin said.

One of those former students, Jeremiah Roland. He dropped by the studio to get his final paycheck.

“It helped me stay focused,” Roland said. “Not being like in the streets or not being outside doing stuff that I wasn’t supposed to be doing.”

Roland said two of his friends passed away while he was enrolled in the course. So it would have been easy to get lost.

But he found something more here.

“Jo’s like a big brother,” Roland said. “I felt like that’s all I had. During that time this was a blessing.”

“He actually interned with me,” Macklin said.

Now, he’s pursuing a career in music and feels like he has the tools to be successful.

“Just to be able to touch them in a way that wants to shift them away from doing anything that isn’t productive,” Macklin said, “That means a lot to me.”

Macklin offers these 2-3 month classes two times a year. Macklin is offering his next class in June. If you want to sign up, just go to the FEC and fill out a form at the front desk.

Right now, those classes in the 18th and Vine District are only for adults 18 and older, but Macklin has plans to do even more. They’re building a new, state-of-the-art studio, near 31st and Troost. It’s set to open soon catering to children, too.

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