A partnership between Grove Studios and Leon Speakers has created the Amplify fellowship. The program plans to amplify African American voices throughout Washtenaw County. 

The fellowship will provide opportunities to support artists, including 40 hours of studio time, mentoring and free admittance to workshops hosted by Grove Studios and Leon Speakers, according to the Amplify website.

Amplify was produced in response to the fight for Black lives, said Rick Coughlin, CEO and co-founder of Grove Studios. In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, the team wanted to shed light on Black talent in Washtenaw County.

The fellowship started from “just watching this litany of horrible things happening to Black folks in this country,” Coughlin said. Leon Speakers and Grove Studios came together, both wanting to find a way to support Black voices in the community. 

While the fellowship focuses on music, an emphasis is also placed on community participation, said Rod Wallace, educational programs coordinator at Grove Studios.

“All of the fellows are going to participate in community service with organizations based in Washtenaw County that are trying to rectify inequities in the county,” Wallace said. “So it's an opportunity for musicians to be able to freely create, as well as provide some support to organizations in the community that are trying to do the right thing.”

In addition to promoting Black success within the music industry, Amplify also aims to put Washtenaw County on the map, said Maia Evans, community engagement director for Leon Speakers. 

“I think the overall goal is to establish Ypsi and Ann Arbor and all across Washtenaw County, really, as kind of the creative powerhouse that it is,” she said.

Applicants must be 18 years or older, African American or of African descent, a resident of Washtenaw County and must exhibit some type of musical skill, according to the fellowship’s website.  

Ideal qualities in applicants are being a team player and having a passion for music, Evans said. 

“So we've been having applications rolling in, and we've sort of been talking about, like, putting together the ideal team instead of the ideal candidate,” Evans said. “We're taking a more holistic look at it to say, how is this going to be in like a small team setting, and having them work together, rather than just like having very separated programs for each fellow.”

Only three applicants will be chosen for the fellowship.

Applications are due Oct. 19 and can be found on the program’s website.


 Alanna Williams is a correspondent for The South End. She can be reached at alannawilliams@wayne.edu.

Cover photo by Kyle McGrath.