Student Musicians From South America Come To Nashville To Learn R&B Hits | Nashville Public Radio

Student Musicians From South America Come To Nashville To Learn R&B Hits

Jul 7, 2016

There’s a new band in Nashville playing R&B hits and getting some decent gigs. And they’re made up mostly of middle school students from Colombia, South America.

The young musicians are in town this week as part of an international music exchange known as “Armonías.” They’ve paired up with Nashville students to learn from Tennessee State University instructor Kerry Frazier and the non-profit From The Heart International Education Foundation.

“It literally brings tears to my eyes,” said Jewell Winn, executive director of the foundation. “And this shows that music is truly universal. … They come together to make one sound.”

Frazier — Winn’s son — has been a visiting instructor in South America for several years as part of the exchange, which is funded by several charities and the Colombian government. But this is first time that a band purely of student performers has come to Nashville.

Yoheny, 15, of Colombia, sings lead on "I Will Survive."
Credit Tony Gonzalez / WPLN

They’ve had a chance to tour Nashville’s musical landmarks and will spend next week learning to play the blues in Chicago. Later this year, the group will reunite when Nashville’s contingent heads south to the Mompox Jazz Festival.

Colombian instructor Liliana Atencia, of the Santa Maria de Mompox School, said music is the “shared” language. So students who may seem foreign at first, and not look the same, can begin to understand one another.

The students will perform at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Salsa r­­estaurant on Palmer Place, on Friday at Rocketown, and for a private show for Nashville dignitaries including Mayor Megan Barry. 

Kerry Frazier and Liliana Atencia fist bump during a rendition of "Rehab" by students in the Armonias band.
Credit Tony Gonzalez / WPLN