When Isaiah Carter goes at something, he goes rather hard.
The senior-to-be at Lee’s Summit West High School is a musician by trade, by choice, and as he father states, by nature.
Carter’s musical prowess includes playing drums and the piano, and just recently he added high school chamber choir performer to his growing list of suitable traits. He is also a composer.
Recently invited to Los Angeles for the ninth annual Grammy Camp program sponsored by the Grammy Foundation July 13-22 at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, Carter is among 99 talented high school students from 87 U.S. cities and 27 U.S. states – in addition to four international students from Japan and England – selected to participate in the camp, which also has a site in New York from Aug. 4-12.
Seventy-five of the campers will hold court in L.A. as part of an interactive, 10-day residential summer music experience that provides instruction by industry professionals.
The program offers six music career tracks which culminate in media projects, CD recordings and/or performances. Carter’s career track is drums.
“When I got the call, of course I was excited, but I was kind of shocked at first,” Carter said July 2 in an interview with the Journal. “It’s a pretty exclusive thing – only 75 kids get chosen from across the country. I was really excited and sort of taken aback. It took a minute for it to sink in.”
Carter’s father, Darren, said his son’s abilities have been obvious for awhile. He used a common phrase to describe Isaiah’s talent.
“I’m truly proud of him,” Darren Carter said. “For him to get accepted and invited to the camp, his mother and I are just head-over-heels proud of him. We’ve always known music is in him – he came out of the womb drumming. It’s great now to see him start to receive acknowledgment for what’s in him. We’re really, really excited for him.”
When the program started nine years ago, organizers had very high hopes and aspirations for the Grammy Camp and students such as Isaiah Carter, said Neil Portnow, president/CEO of the Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation.
“And I can truly say we’ve met our goals to offer young people a hands-on experience that delivers a sense of what it’s like to have an actual career in the music industry,.” Portnow said in a statement. “Teens spend their time working with Grammy-winning artists and industry professionals gaining knowledge and sharpening their skills, so they will be ready to take the next steps in their careers.”
The camp should be good exposure for Isaiah Carter, who is keenly aware 20-time Grammy Award winner and jazz musician Pat Metheny hails from Carter’s hometown of Lee’s Summit.
“I know who he is,” Carter said. “He has 20 Grammy (Awards) now. For a person that does music, the Grammys are like what the Super Bowl would be to a football player. It’s the most prestigious thing you can do in your field – to win a Grammy or attend the Grammys or something like that.”
Said Kristen Madsen, senior vice-president of the Grammy Foundation: “Almost every artist and music professional who we bring to Grammy Camp comes away saying two things: ‘These kids are so talented’ and ‘I wish I’d had this kind of experience when I was young.’ This underscores the collaborative and immersive nature of Grammy Camp, and the fact that the experience produces lasting effects and positive influences for the campers who participate each summer.”
Isaiah Carter said he doubts he will miss home while halfway across the country. He insists music is his pathway, and attending Grammy Camp in L.A. is another step in that journey.
“The thing is sometimes I get caught up in the music and everything else just sort of falls by the wayside,” he said. “When I get into music, I get so far into it it’s hard for me to concentrate on a lot of other stuff. I’ll probably be just focused on the music and then when I’m done, I’ll think about getting back home to my parents and my brother and everything.”
Added Darren Carter: “Isaiah, from a very, very young age, would always get immersed in one thing and just dive very deeply into it. Now, his thing is music, and he dives into it. Sometimes we have to pull him out and say, ‘take a look at the total scope.’ We also recognize that this is something in him. You can’t separate music from Isaiah, so we try to make sure we understand that. We try to do everything we can to feed into his gifts and his talents while being parents and guide and direct him. There’s much more to him than music.”