Music brings people together. This holds true at Forman School, where vibrant, creative students are encouraged to explore their unique interests. For seniors Collin Barrett ’16, Ethan Jadow ’16, and Peter Leyden ’16, an eclectic musical match-up began last year.
“Last year, Ethan showed me a beat and we made a song,” Barrett says. Although the composition was mostly experimental, Jadow adds, “We had to start somewhere.” Jadow, who is applying to Music Technology programs around the country, began working with GarageBand at age 10 and has been creating music through Logic Pro for five years. “I’m always working on ideas. I started one right before coming back to Forman for the fall,” he explains. With the understanding that Barrett “has a great voice for hip hop,” Jadow wanted to add another element. “I always wanted to do something with Peter because he has such an amazing, unique voice,” he says. The admiration is mutual for the bandmates. “Ethan and Collin are both just so talented, so creative, and fun to work with in general,” vocalist Leyden says. “Jadow is a musical genius; the beats and loops he makes are off the charts. He can also shred guitar, although he is extremely humble about it. Collin has an original flow and he makes great lyrics.”
The classmates wrote three songs together: “We just kind of meshed,” Barrett remembers. Their first song, “Break the Cage,” began to take shape in Jerrod Cattey’s Instrumental Ensemble class. Cattey says his class is a combination of structured lessons and allowing students to explore with their creativity. “When I heard the song, I said, ‘You guys are going to perform that in Monday assembly in five or seven days.’ Helping to organize them and giving them a deadline spurred them to complete the project,” he says. With lyrics by Barrett and Leyden and music by Jadow, the piece has “everything you want in a song, from rock to hip hop,” Jadow says. Cattey agrees: “There’s so much good music out there now that it seems like the best music has a variety of styles.”
After performing in assembly, the group received an overwhelmingly positive response, which inspired them to bring the song to the next level. The three gathered at a professional studio owned by a family friend of Jadow, and recorded the song, which is now up on SoundCloud.
Barrett, who goes by “Smoove the Artist” in his musical endeavors, says that his time at Forman has opened up new opportunities for his future. “I want to pursue more singing. I’ve learned I’m very creative. Before, I was strictly a football player. The season ends so fast, and it has allowed me to think about a lot of things and talk about what I want to do with my life,” he says. It was Cattey who discovered that Barrett’s vocal talents went beyond rap. “That class really brought me to a different side of music,” Barrett says. “Mr. Cattey brought me out of my comfort zone to really sing.” Cattey adds, “At some point, I heard him sing, and I was like, ‘Yes, we’re doing something with this.’” Barrett performed “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone” by Bill Withers at Parents’ Weekend this year to deafening applause. And this is just the beginning for him; the well-rounded artist is currently working on a music video to pair with one of his songs.
Leyden had a similar experience of personal growth and acceptance in the music program at Forman. “When I first came to the Forman, Instrumental Ensemble really saved me. It was my favorite class, hands down; a place where I felt like I could be myself,” Leyden says. “Mr. Cattey is the best ever. He is an amazing teacher, extremely kind, supportive, talented, and so patient. I count myself lucky every day to be his student.”
As for Jadow, he is focused on his goal of making great music entirely from a computer, and he is continuing to create music for his college application portfolio. “Forman allows me to work on my music every day,” he says. He is also part of Forman’s Ingenuity Program, which allows him to dedicate a significant amount of time to a long-term project. Jadow is working on building a MIDI studio with pad controllers, sequencers, keyboards, a synthesizer, electronic drums, and more. In this on-campus studio, he hopes to complete a hip hop album by the end of the academic year. “Mr. [Chris] Ford gives me deadlines, which helps to keep me on track,” he says.
Cattey feels a great sense of satisfaction when his pupils learn to believe in themselves. “It’s rewarding when they end up being able to do something that they thought they couldn’t do. When they do it, they don’t always think it’s a big deal, but I’m like, ‘That’s awesome!’”
Watch the videos below of the band by Tory Jadow P'16 from Parents' Weekend 2015!