The free Sounds open-mike event has provided an alternative voice in Happy Valley for almost two years. The growth of the organization is greatly attributed to Executive Director Misha Cleveland.
“I’m a musician and I’ve been living in State College since 2006,” Cleveland said. “I noticed the lack of places for listening to original music and places to go if you wanted to have fun without drinking, especially on the weekends. Specifically people under 21 didn’t have a lot of places to go to have a good time or see music, let alone share their own original music.”
The Dec. 12 show will feature sets by local singer-songwriters Anna Pearl Belinda, Olivia Price, Russ Knight and Rashmit Arora.
In addition to serving up a sober environment, Sounds’ mission is to form an open dialogue with the local arts community. Audience members are encouraged to volunteer for reduced ticket prices, and suggestions are always welcome.
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“Some of the younger crowd have suggested having a karaoke night,” Cleveland said. “We’re trying to do something like that once a month. It’s really all about the audience, and providing them what they want. We have someone with experience in music trivia, so that’s another thing we’re trying to incorporate in the future.”
Cleveland said she has been busy setting up an after-school program for local music students, designed to help them grow as musicians.
“This is really a community organization. I’m a volunteer,” she said. “Everything we’re doing is for our community. ... We applied for a grant through Pennsylvania Council of the Arts and with that money we’re going to try to get music equipment to start a rock group. We’ve gotten some donations so far, but we still need lots of instruments.”
Anyone interested in donating musical equipment can contact Cleveland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We need all kinds of stuff to be able to make it happen,” Cleveland added. “We made a deal with the State Theatre that we’re going to be using their attic for rock group practice. It’s going to be a six week program, one day a week after school between 4 and 6 p.m. We got (Perkolators drummer) Matt Price to run the group. It will be for eight high schoolers who normally wouldn’t be able to afford to be part of that program.”
“Sounds is a non-profit organization,” Cleveland said. “The focus is on original music shows for all genres and all ages with an emphasis on audience input and positive community engagement. The focus is really on the music as opposed to the music being the background.”