Totem Star

Non-profit record label providing mentorship, studio time, and professional development for aspiring musicians

Support from the D’Addario Foundation has provided Totem Star recording artists with strings, drumsticks, and more that they need to produce their music and perform it on stage. Thank you D’Addario Foundation for amplifying and empowering youth voice! – Daniel Pak, Executive Director, Totem Star

At Totem Star, a diverse family of youth – with little to no access to the arts – are empowered with life skills through music production and performance to increase leadership, civic engagement, and community building. Using the model of a record label, aspiring young artists record original songs, perform at events they help produce, and receive mentorship from culturally relevant touring artists and music industry professionals – all achieved in a safe, encouraging environment.

Totem Star consists of three pillars: Studio, which gives young people access to a professional-caliber recording studio and production team at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in West Seattle; Stage, an ongoing quarterly series of open mics and showcases; and Story, in which working musicians come into the studio to share their experiences and insights in the industry.

After beginning their fall programming just a few weeks ago, the studio is already booked solid with aspiring young recording artists coming in after school. They will be working hard all year on material for their third compilation mixtape, to be released in June 2018. Click here to listen to last year’s Resistance Mixtape; all of the guitar and bass tracks you hear on the recordings are strung with donated D’Addario strings.

“Music is our common language and culture, and teaching life skills in creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking is our goal,” says Daniel. “Totem Star is a life-changing experience for our young people, and we are humbled to be entrusted with this work.”

To learn more, visit their website here.

Photo Credit: Amber Zbitnoff, Sabrina Hounshell