By Jennifer Sadler and Brooke Chavdar

Columbus is a city with a great passion for music. Columbus supports a long history of world-class artists, as well as a vibrant and diverse music scene that thrives today. For many, music offers an opportunity to explore common ground with others. Music, which often transcends language barriers, can be a vehicle to reach people of all ages, to teach about other cultures, to gain insight about the history and politics of the time the music was created and can even help us gain insight into our own relationships. Many are aware of the importance of music in education and in every day experiences. Political and community advocates work tirelessly alongside parents and educators in the fight to keep music education in our schools. Collaborations are happening every day with arts groups that help to bring music to students, neighborhoods, community organizations and into the everyday lives of Columbus citizens.

Local arts organizations such as Jazz Arts Group  dedicate a large part of their programming to music education and play a key role in augmenting and enriching school cirriculum with their Jazz In Schools program, Jazz Academy classes and the PBJ & Jazz series with interactive concerts designed to introduce jazz to young kids and their families. Other organizations focus on out-of-school education. Columbus Children’s Choir, one of the best choirs of its kind in the nation, offers an excellent opportunity for young people in central Ohio who want to pursue music at a higher level than what might otherwise be available in their school.

For those seeking a less formal exploration of music there are many opportunities available—for all ages and skill levels. Following is a small peek into what a couple of local organizations have to offer. The Harmony Project, founded here in Columbus, has a unique twist with their programming which requires all participants to give back by volunteering for various community projects. And CityMusic’s M.O.R.E. programs give school kids the chance to interact with internationally touring musicians who have a stopover in Columbus as well as local musicians and educators. 

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PERSPECTIVE: Music Adds Rhythm to Life in Columbus

Over the last several decades, the Columbus area has produced an astounding array of world class musical talent in every style from jazz to doo-wop to country-western to punk rock to big band to hip-hop. Columbus’ musically vibrant community has nurtured the talents of such artists as Nancy Wilson, Dwight Yoakam, Scrawl, the Royal Crescent Mob, Howlin' Maggie, Bow Wow, the New Bomb Turks and Rascal Flatts. Some of these musicians have achieved great success and fame in the music business—others have chosen to remain at home and are just as worthy of recognition for their immense talent. Columbus is also home to the only independently owned and operated alternative station in the top 100 markets in the entire country, CD101 @ 102.5, which regularly provides airtime for local bands, encourages attendance at live concerts by offering low price tickets and broadens exposure to acoustic performances through their BIG ROOM shows. There are many individuals here who are dedicated to keeping Columbus’ music scene thriving and believe that music can strengthen our community in a creative way, making our city an even better place--not just for musicians, but for everyone.

Columbus Music Co-op

By Erin Moore, co-founder and executive director for the Columbus Music Co-op

It is an exciting time to work with the Columbus music community. The depth of talent and enthusiasm for music here is impressive and it is going a long way towards helping to establish Columbus’ identity as a music city.

One of the most exciting aspects within the music scene is the current spirit of collaboration that is running wild with musicians and throughout much of the local and creative community. Events like Independents’ Day and Urban Scrawl allow a niche organization, like the Columbus Music Co-op (CMC), to work with and interact with other community groups and local businesses like the Franklinton Development Association, Music Loves Ohio, the Small Business Beanstalk, Central City Recording and many more. Through these collaborations, we are able to meet new musicians and music fans and liked-minded community supporters in general.

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Central City Recording

By Andy Dodson, president of Central City Recording

Columbus is a city of hidden gems – knowing what to look for and taking the time to do it makes all the difference in this town. So when I say that Columbus is a great place to learn, perform and produce music, I’m not surprised to be met with quizzical looks and skepticism. Here’s a little crash course in what Columbus and central Ohio have to offer.

For performers, options abound. Transit Arts and Music Loves Ohio are both non-profit organizations that support underserved youth with contemporary music programming. Whether it’s making drums from recycled materials or learning the tenets of hip hop culture, these are not your usual after-school programs.

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Andy Shaw Band

By Andy Shaw

Columbus is a city that is rich in talent. Any day of the week you can find a great live show, with almost any type of genre on display. It’s a special place to live.  This creative spectrum needs to be seen and heard more. Most bands can perform on a regular basis in town with little problem, but sometimes this can be a lot of work. So, where can you go from there? Trying to get signed isn’t always the most effective way to build a career anymore, but that doesn‘t mean musicians cannot be successful.  Columbus can hold it’s own simply as a great city for music, which helps everyone. Just like when a band says they are from Nashville, Austin, or LA,  Columbus needs to be proud of our hotbed of creativity, furthering and uplifting our creative professionals. The We Are Columbus Ohio Music Showcase and The Columbus Songwriter Sessions are just two projects that help do exactly that.

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We Are Columbus Ohio Showcase Fundraiser

When Austin, Texas hosts their annual South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival this month, some of Ohio’s best independent musicians and artists will be on-hand to share the sounds of Columbus. Under the banner of We Are Columbus – Ohio By Southwest, local musicians are packing up their gear and planning their route to the Foo’s Treehouse Bar in Austin, where they will perform on March 18.  Come out to Kobo this Saturday, March 5, for a fundraiser to support the musicians involved in the We Are Columbus Ohio Showcase.

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Music Director Jean-Marie Zeitouni will lead the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Requiem March 11-13. The concert marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbus Symphony Chorus, its 130 volunteer members currently under the direction of Chorus Master Ronald J. Jenkins. The concert will also feature soprano Leah Crocetto, mezzo Elizabeth Bishop, tenor Michael Fabiano, and baritone Jake Gardner.

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Music in the Round, a unique concert format that originated in Nashville's Bluebird Café, is a treat for music lovers featuring some of the most talented musicians Columbus has to offer.  The only rule: the artists must play songs they've written themselves, on the instruments on which they were written.  Participating artists showcase and polish new songs in an intimate, supportive environment made up of a music-loving audience and their fellow singer-songwriters.

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