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Youths feeling the beat at Carnegie Boys & Girls Club's recording studio

| Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 7:39 p.m.
Carnegie Boys & Girls Club in-house engineer Sam Conturo talks about the B.E.A.T.S. Studio inside the facility as local rapper Amari Clark, 16, of Carnegie looks on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The B.E.A.T.S. (Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound) Studio opened as a way to attract more teens to the club and to offer a way for them to express themselves musically.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Carnegie Boys & Girls Club in-house engineer Sam Conturo talks about the B.E.A.T.S. Studio inside the facility as local rapper Amari Clark, 16, of Carnegie looks on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The B.E.A.T.S. (Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound) Studio opened as a way to attract more teens to the club and to offer a way for them to express themselves musically.
Local rapper Amari Clark's stage name 'Sincerely' is part of a colorful set of drawings on her boots as the 16-year-old Carnegie teen talks about her music at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Thursday, April 30, 2015. Clark has been working with in-house engineer Sam Conturo to record some of her songs since a recording studio—the B.E.A.T.S. Studio—opened last year inside the Washington Avenue facility. B.E.A.T.S. stands for Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Local rapper Amari Clark's stage name 'Sincerely' is part of a colorful set of drawings on her boots as the 16-year-old Carnegie teen talks about her music at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club on Thursday, April 30, 2015. Clark has been working with in-house engineer Sam Conturo to record some of her songs since a recording studio—the B.E.A.T.S. Studio—opened last year inside the Washington Avenue facility. B.E.A.T.S. stands for Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound.
Carnegie Boys & Girls Club in-house engineer Sam Conturo plays some of 16-year-old local rapper Amari Clark's (left) songs inside the facility's B.E.A.T.S. Studio on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The B.E.A.T.S. (Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound) Studio opened as a way to attract more teens to the club and to offer a way for them to express themselves musically.
Kristina Serafini | Trib Total Media
Carnegie Boys & Girls Club in-house engineer Sam Conturo plays some of 16-year-old local rapper Amari Clark's (left) songs inside the facility's B.E.A.T.S. Studio on Thursday, April 30, 2015. The B.E.A.T.S. (Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound) Studio opened as a way to attract more teens to the club and to offer a way for them to express themselves musically.

Dreams are being crafted in the Teen Center at the Carnegie Boys & Girls Club.

In a corner of the room, Sam Conturo, a professional producer and audio engineer, helps young talents reach for their futures in a recording studio where they can perfect performances or develop production skills.

Youths and teens, age 12 and older, who take part in the club's programs can join Conturo on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., to pursue their interests in music.

Just a few youths used the BEATS Studio, or Being Excellent Achieved Through Sound, last year, More have attended in recent months, since the Teen Center added new furniture, a pool table and other amenities. Those considering entertainment careers can learn basics in the studio, while others can sit in, play pool or chat with friends.

The club's board funded the center. The recording equipment cost nearly $2,500.

Amari Clark of Carnegie was one of the first students to use the studio. Having learned to rap when she was 8, the Carlynton High School 10th-grader has been involved at the studio for months. Clark, whose stage name is Sincerely, has recorded eight or nine songs and is developing her own style.

“I'm hoping to make it by 18,” said Clark, 16. “I want to help out my family and have people in the industry know my name.”

She has begun a fourth notebook of lyrics for songs to come. She writes down every rap line that explains experiences in her life. Her first song was titled “Reality vs. Dreams.”

Besides personal performances for family, she entertained nearly 100 people at her own sweet 16 party. Pleased with their response, she hopes to find other venues.

In the studio, Conturo helps to create a beat and a melody to help Clark's stories come to life.

Conturo remembers finding his way through music as a child and feeling a sense of professionalism as early as ninth grade. Now 21, he recently ran the music studio at the University of Pittsburgh and participated in Carnegie Mellon University's Arts Greenhouse, a hip-hop music education program for teens.

Derrick Lawrence, 12 and a sixth-grader at Chartiers Valley Middle School, remembers listening to music from a young age and wondering how it was made. His interests are in production and in being able to “talk music” with someone.

“I start with the drums to get the rhythm and add other stuff to make it flow,” he said.

His few months in the studio have been productive. “I like it more than I thought I would,” Derrick said.

Aniyah Carson, a fifth-grader at Carnegie Elementary, has recorded two songs: “No Place I'd Rather Be” and “Listen” by Beyonce. She enjoys singing to instrumentals.

A shy girl, her voice is bigger than she is. Her young dream includes being a star and traveling the world.

Along with technical aspects of recording and basic music training, Conturo leads youngsters in the BEATS Studio by personal and professional experience.

He recognizes he put out “stupid” songs when he was young before he found his own sound. “Music has to be you. Everyone is being real,” he said.

If or when they arrive, they'll know.

“You'll just feel it,” Conturo said.

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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