By Ginger DeShaney
Do you ever wonder what it’s like falling under?
Do you ever dream to succeed but you don’t? It don’t matter.
’cause the weight of the world is on your shoulders but nothing can bring you down.
Is it wrong, is it right, but it don’t matter; what matters is right now.
These are the opening lyrics of the original song “What Matters,” written by preteens Tiara H, Ella M, and Salamata B, members of the Edgerley Family South Boston Boys & Girls Club’s music program.
What matters, what matters is that we’ve got each other …
When the world feels heavy and you feel lost, make sure one thing is clear: Don’t you worry about tomorrow; today you’re here.
Tiara performed the song to kick off the virtual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Road Race Concert, which premiered Saturday night.
“I’m impressed with how these preteens draw off their own feelings of being stuck inside,” Club Music Director Jessica Nathania said about “What Matters.”
The main message: “What matters is that we are all here right now and it’s going to be OK,” Jessica said.
Tiara’s beautiful voice transcends her age and the lyrics are deep and resonating.
The annual St. Patrick’s Day Road Race, a fundraiser for the South Boston Club’s youth development and teen programs, is virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year’s race and concert were canceled, but “this year we got the chance to do [the concert], even though it’s a little different,” Jessica said.
The performances were recorded ahead of time, but the performers didn’t see the concert until Saturday’s premiere.
“The kids are excited,” Jessica said. “The parents are excited to see the performance.”
Edgerley Family South Boston Club Executive Director Harry Duvall opened the concert: “Our race concert marks the turning of the page, the opening of a new chapter, the start of what’s next.”
After Tiara’s performance, The Edgerley Family South Boston Club Players — Nolan (guitar), Will (bass), Robbie, Zeron, Anthony, and Erica (drums), and Niaomi, Kay’ary, Erica, Sean, Salamata, and Anthony (vocals) — performed the Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” and did an amazing job!
Headliner Brian Scully of Dalton & the Sheriffs performed a number of songs. And ending the concert was 10-year-old Julia M, who played a mesmerizing rendition of “God Bless America” on her acoustic guitar.
“It’s amazing what kids are capable of doing when they have the resources and support to do it,” Brian said during his set.
And those resources are found in the Club’s music program, open to members ages 9 and up.
“I’m constantly amazed by what a kid can accomplish just because an adult is there and there’s support and resources behind them,” Brian said. “That’s what this place does, that’s what makes this place so special.”
When the Southie Club was renovated in 2014-15, a soundproof music clubhouse featuring a recording booth and practice rooms was included in the plans.
In normal times, the music clubhouse is a bustling place. It’s used for band practices and group and individual lessons. Members can learn how to produce, practice beats, make recordings, and record podcasts. But this year, things are different because of the pandemic.
Instead of group practices and lessons, only members in the same cohort can practice together, said Jessica. For band practice, for instance, if kids are in the same cohort, they can practice together, but they can’t practice with band members outside the cohort. For the Club Players portion of the concert, the individual cohorts were recorded separately.
During the height of the pandemic, the Club offered virtual jam sessions and karaoke, Zoom instrument lessons (thanks to a partnership with “Music and Youth,” club members were able to take home instruments), songwriting sessions, and freestyle Fridays.
Zoom lessons ended in the fall, when members returned to the club in person.
Jessica currently leads a cohort during the day so she doesn’t get to see all the kids in the music program. Her music assistant, Brendan Cornish, runs the after-school program in the music room.
“I miss being able to see everyone and hang out together,” she said about her music kids. “It made me so proud seeing them do the concert.”
Jessica is from Indonesia and moved here to pursue music. She has a songwriting degree from Berklee College of Music. She sings at weddings, performs her original songs in local venues, and records in studios.
“I get to share my experience performing in the real world and with professional bands,” she said. “I’m humbled to be able to share that with [the members].
“I’m very honored to share my part in it,” Jessica said about the music program. “It’s a rewarding experience for me, too. I always learn something from the kids.”
The music program is very beneficials to the members. “I see kids who want to pursue music as a career,” Jessica said. Some members reach out to her to help them prepare for school auditions (for example, to get into the Boston Arts Academy).
The music program allows members to “get away from their daily routine,” she said. “They can leave their homework and school projects at the door and when they come into the music room, they have fun, lash out their energy on the drums …
“It’s a wonderful space for them to be who they are and use music as the tool to express themselves.”
To view the concert, visit https://vimeo.com/522886244/05f9555609