Universities around the country are wrapping up their school year virtually, with little celebratory fanfare and in-person pomp and circumstance. For students at New Jersey’s Monmouth University’s Music and Theatre department, though, there’s ample reason to celebrate, as they are planning the release of their 16th studio album this week. Due to the quarantine, this record was uniquely produced and recorded remotely in individual studios by each musician. The release date for the EP is May 8, complete with an Instagram live stream on May 6, on their own student-run label, Blue Hawk Records.
Artists on “Sweet 16” include Monmouth students Shadiyah (featuring Gabe Garcia), Nicole Totland, Bruce Davis (featuring Janae), Mikey Sanchez, Drew Fournier, and Monmouth alumna, Anya Schildge Angeloni, along with an ensemble of accompanying student musicians and producers.
“The resilience of these students astounds me”, said Music and Theatre department chair, and Music Industry Program Director, Joe Rapolla. “Their spirit and commitment to the project, and each other, is heartening. They will be able to apply this experience, in many different professional, and personal, situations their entire lives. That’s what most gratifying in all of this. Getting together with the students is the highlight of my workweek, and especially during this virus shutdown.”
Monmouth University’s Blue Hawk Records was established by the university’s music department in 2013 to give aspiring musicians and students a taste of what it takes to run a record label.
Under the direction of Professor Rapolla, each semester students hold auditions, select artists, prepare to record, develop marketing strategies, decide on artwork, and plan and produce a live event, as part of their Record Label Strategies course. When the quarantine orders went into effect, Rapolla continued to conduct live class meetings online, where the team devised a plan to accomplish all the required tasks remotely. With just one recording session scheduled before the shutdown at Lakehouse Recording Studio in Asbury Park, student managers and producers were forced to work remotely with artists to record tracks in home or local studios. The tracks were then sent in to be mixed and mastered. All the while, artwork was designed with Monmouth’s Professor Linh Dao’s art class, and online promotions were scheduled and maintained without missing a beat.
While a planned on-campus release show will not happen, the group will be celebrating their accomplishment online. “A lot of effort is being put in to make this album happen,” said Ben Davis, a music industry sophomore and Blue Hawk Records press coordinator. “This way, music lovers from all over the world will be able to tune in to hear our artists, and what we’ve been working so hard on.”
“Sweet 16” will be available for streaming on all digital platforms on May 8. Instagram Live Stream is on May 6. You can find and follow Blue Hawk Records at @bluehawkrecordsofficial