Austin youth perform Wednesday

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Street-Level Youth Media is gearing up for its annual benefit Wednesday, and Lisa Lust wishes more Austin youth were going to be a part of it.

Born and raised in Austin, Lust first got involved with Street-Level as a 7th grader. She took part in the after-school music production program, which helped her learn the basics of music, recording, using a microphone – and the rest is history, she says.

“You name it, it all started there,” Lust said. “It just opened my eyes to a lot music-wise.”

Now the 25-year-old Lust, an audio engineer at Street-Level, would like more youth from her neighborhood to get involved.

“This spot has a lot to offer Austin,” she said. “I would like for us to one day take a trip to Austin to rally up more youth and encourage them to come this way.”

Lust said she goes back to Austin frequently and always hears youth wanting to go into the studio. She said there are still many West Side youth who want that outlet and need the resources to express themselves musically.

“So it would definitely help them a lot not only with the resources aspect, but leaving their community,” Lust said. “There are still a lot of youth to this day who live in Austin who really don’t go outside of their boundaries. All in all, this program can do a lot for Austin and a lot of communities in Chicago.”

Helen Schneider, marketing and development director for Street-Level, said the program would love to get more Austin participants.

One Austin youth, Darion Bangs, has been going to Street-Level the last four years. Bangs said the program has helped him with recording and making music.

“It’s like an outlet,” he said. “I have people here I consider mentors or even parental figures. It’s like a place where you can just come and be yourself because you’re not being judged. They really focus on you and really want to see you succeed and get to where you want to be.”

Bangs, 19, said Street-Level would be a great outlet for West Side youth, helping develop and spread their talents.

But first Austin residents have to become aware of the program and its opportunities.

“You don’t have to be talented to come to Street-Level,” Bangs said. “You can come to just experience new things.”

Bangs, a freshman at Harold Washington College majoring in music business, had always been interested in music, but Street-Level played a big role in helping him decide to pursue music as a career.

“I’m so involved in it, and I love it so much,” he said. “And with the help from Street-Level and the support they give you, you have all the right tools you need.”

Bangs will be an MC at Wednesday’s benefit, which takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at Sullivan Galleries, 33 S. State St. Performances by youth participants will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Click here for information about tickets.

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