Clint Velazquez

Clint Velazquez is an artist and community leader who founded Base Academy of Music (BAM) 8 years ago in Kansas City Missouri, his hometown. Clint chose the name Base Academy of Music in an overt statement about his organization’s mission, which is to use music to build a foundation for youth in his city. As Clint says, “Everybody needs to get off the ground. And we start with love and joy of music.”

Clint decided to invest in children through teaching music. BAM works in the urban core, in areas where access to music is not available.  His approach?  Build a community of music teachers giving one to one music lessons to local kids. He activated BAM in a trusted place, a local school, one that kids and their families identify with and where they feel at home.  By teaching music lessons in a community environment; a child learning trumpet can hear the sounds of a drum lesson and a piano lesson going on nearby. Clint offers, “Kids need to see they are part of something big, and that they belong.”  As BAM has grown and thrived, children build not just musical skills but, perhaps more importantly, belonging and self confidence.  

Clint and his community of artists, parents, and children at BAM believe that the impact on the city through helping youth start to play instruments will change Kansas City, Missouri for generations to come.  As kids see and believe in their potential, they will be successful in their communities, and moreover some truly great musicians might emerge from neighborhoods in KC where the rich legacy of music has been suppressed by discrimination and divisive policy.  

Clint’s vision is that in a couple of generations, people will make music in their homes together.  “The songs will come back, and the neighborhoods will return to the culture of music.”

With the COVID pandemic, it’s easy to worry about the future of BAM, given its place based model.  But BAM quickly adjusted, and held its first virtual recital on May 9th; 70 students submitted entries for the performance.  Facebook Live captured the performances and captured hundreds of comments and praise throughout the virtual music fest from families and friends.  Clint’s next challenge is to ensure the physical space he chooses for his fall semester of classes can be equipped for the health and social distancing requirements of the community and BAM students, and he’s upbeat about putting a plan together.