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Broad & High Presents: WAV with Payton Ramirez

Student of WAV (We Amplify Voices)

WAV (formerly known as the Dick & Jane Project) was founded as an after-school music education program in 2011.

Director of Development for WAV Travis Hoewischer says, “WAV has since provided programming in over 25 Franklin County schools, serving between 80-100 Central Ohio students annually. We are now classified as a Social and Emotional Learning program and our Executive Director sees our work as ‘group therapy’ through the arts.”

“In 10 years we’ve recorded and released more than 100 songs, and several music videos. Our music is available for free through all digital channels, including Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes,” says Hoewischer.

“Unique” is a song created in a week by Payton Ramirez in collaboration with other students through the WAV program.

Ramirez says that, “the overall theme of the song (for me) was that no one can change the way that I want to think and create. Also that people are going to criticize and support you but no matter what, you need to believe in yourself because if you don’t, there isn’t going to be a positive experience in whatever you’re doing.”

Wedgewood Middle School student Payton Ramirez performs her original song “Clarity” at the WOSU TV studios.

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Meet The Musicians

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Payton Ramirez (center) with Stephanie Amber and Adam Darling of Honey And Blue

Interview with Payton Ramirez, Student Alumna of the WAV Program

Payton Ramirez, alumni of the WAV program tells us about her favorite memory working with WAV, what she would do without WiFi, and the topping she believes should never be on a pizza.

Tell us about how you connected with WAV
My Principal Mrs. Diane Campbell asked me if I would want to work with We Amplify Voices,
and I was very excited.

What does music mean to you and how does it play a part in your life?
I love the songwriting process because I feel like it’s the place that can be completely universal for anyone with a pencil and a piece of paper. I was already making my own music, but when we went to the studio and afterwards, my love for music has grown 10X as strong. Also, recording in the studio has taught me a lot about the music and networking with others to put yourself out there. WAV has completely changed my life! The mentors especially because without them, the whole process would be different.

What was it like performing with your mentor and on your own in our studio?
I’ve had the opportunity to work with both of my mentors, George Barrie and Stephanie Amber, and that was probably one of the best outcomes of WAV. Being able to write and sing is only half of the battle for when it comes to music. For me especially, it was scary to sing in front of others. But after working with my mentors, I love being on a stage! I love being able to share my music with others and hearing their music and stories as well.

What is your favorite music genre and who are some of your favorite artists?
My favorite genres of music are pop and soulful pop-like music. A few of my favorite artists (such as Kelly Clarkson and Demi Lovato) are artists that have very wide vocal ranges and play many different types of music.

How did WAV help you during the process of songwriting and what are some of your favorite memories from the program?
WAV has helped me a lot with my confidence. And not only with just music. I feel that before, I
could walk into a room full of people and unless I knew someone in the room, I would probably
stay quiet. But now I think that even just a simple “Hi” can make a friend.

One of my favorite memories from working with WAV was hearing the song be played on the radio. I felt so accomplished that something me and my classmates wrote, heard and were a part of, was being heard. It was SUCH a rewarding feeling that I won’t ever forget.

How are you staying creative during the COVID-19 quarantine?
I have been staying creative by writing and finding old songs and turning them into new ones. I have also been learning songs from different genres. It’s an unfortunate circumstance to be in, but
Music is my escape.

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Interview with Nick D’Andrea

Nick D’Andrea, Executive Director of WAV, tells us a bit about what WAV is, his favorite part about it, and what he hopes its impact will be on the community.

The Origin Story
Formerly The Dick & Jane Project, WAV’s mission is to empower students through songwriting. Founded as an after-school music education program by Columbus-based charter school administrator Ben Shinabery in 2011, WAV has since provided programming in over 25 Franklin County schools, serving between 80-100 Central Ohio students annually.

We are now classified as a Social and Emotional Learning program and our Executive Director sees our work as ‘group therapy’ through the arts. In 10 years, we’ve recorded and released more than 100 songs and several music videos. Our music is available for free through all-digital channels, including Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes.

How does WAV work and what is its mission?
WAV is a writing program with a musical outcome. Professional local musicians, who serve as program instructors, receive training from WAV staff, and then lead students through a five-session songwriting process, culminating in a recording session at a professional studio. Participants learn writing and teamwork skills and receive professional exposure to music production. They also work with adult leaders representing the music and recording industries, providing experiential learning and insight into these fields.

How do students/schools get involved with WAV? 
Currently, we are piloting a brand-new version of our programming that can take place virtually, called Amplified Inside, using the incredible disruption of COVID-19 as an opportunity to reach more students in Central Ohio and beyond. Any parents who are interested in enrolling their student, can contact us directly or connect us with an administrator at their school through www.weamplifyvoices.org.

In addition to taking on new students through Amplified Inside, we’re recreating our workshops virtually to help reach and connect with students who were in songwriting workshops when their classroom work was interrupted by COVID-19. Currently, we’re finishing songwriting workshops with Wedgewood Middle School and Arts Impact Middle School, and are also staying connected through social media groups with partner Harmony Project and the kids in their South High Harmony program.