Teen band donating proceeds from first album to charity
By Bethany Hofstetter
Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
A group of high-school students decided their band's first album was going to help make a difference in someone's life.
With CD sales topping 200, the students are well on their way to doing just that.
Proceeds from The Options' first album “Alright” are going toward funding a scholarship for a student to attend Pittsburgh's Joey Travolta's Film Camp — a summer camp for students on the autism spectrum.
“It would be really awesome to get that one scholarship,” said Zack Leya, 15, who plays guitar in the band, “to know, as a band, we could make that difference.”
Last year, 36 students between the ages of 13 and 25 participated in Pittsburgh's first Joey Travolta Film Camp, which supports participants' social, communication, transition and vocational goals while teaching participants to produce their own films.
Pittsburgh camp director Carolyn Hare said the cost is the primary barrier for attendance.
The two-week camp is priced at about $1,800 per participant.
The organization attempts to provide scholarship funding to make the camp accessible to everyone, and Hare calls The Options' efforts to provide a scholarship “very generous.”
“The Options happen to be a very philanthropic group of high-school musicians,” she said. “It's humbling to be supported by a band and more importantly by a band comprised of students in high school who are already thinking in terms of community service.”
This is not the first time Zack and his brother, Jake, 17, both of Hampton, have used their musical talents to support autism awareness.
When the Leya brothers were in elementary school, they started a family band with their cousin and put together a CD to raise money for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization promoting research of the spectrum disorders and advocacy for people with autism.
The brothers continued to grow musically, and, in 2011, they formed The Options along with Shannon Drew, 15, of Cranberry and Matt Bauman, 17, of Hampton.
When the band members decided to create their first album, the brothers proposed a return to benefitting those with autism.
One of Drew's family friends participated in the Joey Travolta Film Camp last year with great social success, so she suggested supporting the camp.
“You know it's going for a good cause,” said Drew, the band's vocalist.
The Options are making the donation to the film camp in honor of the Leya brothers' cousin, Tony Michaca, 15, of Hampton, who has autism.
Michaca's artwork is featured on the inside cover of the album and in the video for their song, “Here.”
“Right now, we're still kids,” said Jake Leya, the band's drummer, about why the band wanted to donate the album proceeds. “We don't need to make a living. Why do we need the money to spend on stuff we don't need?”
The Options are gaining local attention and have performed at Hartwood Acres, the EQT Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta, Jergel's Rhythm Grille, The Mattress Factory art museum, the Strand Theater, the Hard Rock Café and the Mario Lemieux Foundation Benefit Hockey Game.
With each band member bringing a different musical background and preference to the stage, Bauman said he thinks The Options are creating their own identity.
“The diversity brings it a whole new sound,” said Bauman, bass guitarist.
“There's a thousand high-school bands, but they don't put the time in to write songs the way we do.”
The teens recorded the eight songs on the album over seven months, mostly between midnight and 3 a.m., when they could get recording studio time. Their song “Breakthrough” recently was featured on WDVE, 102.5-FM.
Chris Leya, Jake and Zack's father, and acting band manager, said he has watched the band members grow as they worked to put in the long hours to write, rehearse and record the album and raise funds for the scholarship to Pittsburgh's Joey Travolta Film Camp.
“I'm really proud of them,” Chris Leya said.
“It's an amazing accomplishment to put an album out, and if it can fund a scholarship, I think that's a great thing.”
Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins stave off Ducks’ shooting barrage to win in shootout
- Trade to Penguins caps frenetic period for winger Stempniak
- Steelers restructure Brown’s contract to become salary cap compliant
- Pirates seek to tap Alvarez’s remaining upside
- Greensburg woman accused of assaulting nurse in Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital
- Penguins notebook: Maatta leaves lasting impression with Selanne
- Gorman: Pitt should be happy with Dixon
- Web of surveillance videos helps ensnare suspect in East Liberty slayings
- Minorities crucial to filling Marcellus shale gas drilling jobs
- Pitt’s oldest known living football letterman turns 100
- Jeannette to use grant to secure Monsour