Through Workshops ACT-SO Students Gain Knowledge, Experience, Confidence

NAACP ACT-SOLAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Aug. 1, 2008) -- Turning dreams into realities by taking a divine gift or inspiration and fully exploring [or even exploiting] life's opportunities is what ACT-SO is all about. That was one of the many lessons learned during the full-day of workshops and seminars offered during the 30th anniversary of ACT-SO--the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics--a major youth initiative of the NAACP. After more than a day of performances and presentations by more than 720 contestants in 26 categories ranging from the sciences to singing, Act-SO participants poured into more than 11 workshops aimed at giving them wider insight/perspective, information and ambition to further pursue their interests. They heard it from the pros. Business people turned impromptu professors, like Miriam Machado Cooper, an exec with of BETJ (Black Entertainment Television Jazz), who encouraged attendees at 'The Business of Music ' workshop, by saying they were ahead of the game by participating in activities like ACT-SO. "You're the cream of the crop of what's coming -- our future generations," she said.NAACP ACT-SO While fielding questions from the eager teens — budding musicians, managers, producers and composers — Camara Kambon of Inflx Entertainment explained, "It's important to connect with people, make a lasting impression. Your life experiences, developing relationships and your artistry are what it's all about, not just the music." Success in the music industry comes not only with talent, but by "taking the opportunities you're given and nudging to the front of the line," added Shannon Emamali, executive director of The Recording Academy. The panelists encouraged the tech savvy cadre of music entrepreneurs to attend live musical performances more and view artists in varying venues, not just huge concerts. There's a difference in each. And although drum machines, synthesizers and mix boards can help a lot in production, they assert that no device or mechanism will ever replace a skilled human musician. Speaking of musicians--a quartet from the Berklee College of Music held a 'Jam Session' that had attendees bobbing their heads, tapping their feet and busily recording with their cell phone cams. These players were good.Jazz variations on the tune "Honeysuckle Rose" held the audience's attention as they awaited their turn with sax, trombone or mic in hand.NAACP ACT-SO In the 'Are You the Next American Success Story?' sponsored by McDonald's Corporation, facilitator Ric Walker of Comedy Sportz based in Chicago put participants through a series of exercises designed to strengthen the mind-body connection.One named "What's in the Box?" tests an individual's imagination and quick-thinking ability when faced with repeated, small problems. "We're asking you to use the top of your intelligence to learn something new, learn in a new way or test your mental capabilities," he said. The first time students run through the drill, they don't do so good. But after a few more tries they excel at developing quicker answers to the question, what's in the box? On this day, useful, long-lasting life-lessons were learned. Participants walked away knowing honestly that life is pregnant with possibilities and talents nurtured if they are to be rewarding. --from central Florida, Richard J. McIntire, Communications Director-NAACP National Office