South L.A. arts academy receives $25,000 music grant

By Gerald Garth, Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — The White Hall Arts Academy has received a $25,000 grant from the Lewis Prize for Music.

Founded in 2011 in the heart of the Crenshaw District, White Hall Arts Academy offers private music lessons and classes for all ages in piano, guitar/bass, voice, strings, drums, songwriting and recording. Dance classes are available in ballet, modern, and hip hop by Sales Dance Academy.

Founder Tanisha Hall has built the White Hall Arts Academy to create a haven for youth in South Los Angeles. Her career in entertainment includes work with Warner Bros. Records and Edmonds Entertainment Group and Chaka Khan’s nonprofit program, the Chaka Khan Believes.

Her efforts to continue to provide for the youth during the pandemic through virtual music lessons and classes. Playing piano since she was a year old, Hall said music has always played a pivotal role in her entire life. Hall has become a nationally recognized woman of impact, moving creative culture forward for youth.

“Music saved me,” she said. “I wasn’t a cool kid, but I found what I was good at and music gave me a home. The music room was my safe space, and I’m here to create a safe space for children and youth who might not have that.”

Hall and her team of instructors teach on average 100 students per week, ranging from television stars and recording artists to the local children of the neighborhood.

“We are an active community partner,” Hall said. “We rent our space out to other groups, and we’re looking forward to more opportunities to collaborate. Through partnerships, we’ll be able to provide even more programs to our communities.”

She mentions performing arts, visual arts, and film as upcoming chapters for the academy.

“There is a collective passion when it comes to art; it is all birthed out of our culture,” Hall said.

Even as schools were forced to close their doors, White Hall Arts Academy’s virtual music lessons and classes provide students with a temporary escape from COVID-19 concerns or the climate of unrest surrounding social justice.

Hall is purposefully utilizing the support of opportunities like the Lewis Prize for Music to expand her efforts and continue to support students.

The Lewis Prize for Music, as part of the COVID-19 Community Response Fund, presented a total of $1.25 million to 32 organizations throughout the nation from more than 600 applicants committed to youth music education.

The White Hall Arts Academy has added most recently a robust offering of virtual music summer classes, where students can enroll in as many classes as desired. Saturday classes run on Zoom from July 11 to Aug. 8. Instruments are donated to children who cannot afford to purchase them.

“At first I checked out instruments to students for a deposit of $20, but realized how much value these musical instruments brought to the students,” Hall said. Because of that, she is confident in ongoing opportunities to grow the academy. The instruments are “better in the students’ hands than collecting dust.”

The staff also volunteers time to teach music classes at the local Crete Academy, a nonprofit charter school aimed at serving students experiencing homelessness. Virtual offerings have also allowed Hall and her team to provide classes and lessons to students around the country as well.

“God has blessed me to be recognized on this level,” Hall said. “The more resources we have, the more we can continue to do.”