Beat Making Lab: A PBS Digital Studios & UNC-TV Original Web Series


"Making music is like making life. You tell people a story about
your life through music and you actually touch people."
- Kalil Davis, Beat Making Lab Student


UNC-TV Launches Its First Original Web Series!

Beat Making Lab - Chapel HillUNC-TV recently collaborated with PBS Digital Studios and Beat Making Lab as part of a groundbreaking project that brings laptops and music production lessons to teenagers across the globe. The result of the partnership is Beat Making Lab’s first US-based edition of the web series and the first such foray into original, online content distribution for UNC-TV. The three-part episode, focusing on Beat Making Lab’s home base in North Carolina’s Triangle area of Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh, premiered Wednesday, May 7, 2014, online at unctv.org.

The Beat Making Lab concept grew out of a fall 2011 class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill when the university’s Music Department Chair Mark Katz invited local producer Stephen “Apple Juice Kid” Levitin to one of his classes as a guest lecturer. That class eventually evolved into a full blown music production class, taught by Katz and Levitin. In the spring of 2012, local emcee and arts activist Pierce “The Beast” Freelon joined the class as co-instructor. Within a few months, the idea of creating an IndieGoGo campaign to fund an international Beat Making Lab in the Democratic Republic of Congo was born. The success of that project, launched on YouTube in 2012, led to a collaboration with PBS Digital Studios in 2013 that funded trips to other locations including Senegal, Panama, Fiji, Ethiopia, Brazil, and South Africa.

Beat Making Lab - Chapel HillBeat Making Lab provides students with the basic tools to begin making music by using a laptop, a mic and simple software programs provided for free. Students are encouraged to sample the sounds of their own neighborhoods and to use these sounds in their music productions. "Making music is like making life. You tell people a story about your life through music and you actually touch people," says Kalil Davis, a Chapel Hill Beat Making Lab student featured in the series.

"The educational and community focus of this project fits well with the mission of UNC-TV," says Shannon Vickery, UNC-TV’s executive Director of UNC-TV Productions, "and this series represents an important step forward for us as an organization." Find out more about the Beat Making Lab here, visit their YouTube Channel or stop by the Beat Making Lab on Facebook. Also, on April 25, 2014, Pierce Freelon and Apple Juice Kid joined UNC-TV's Deborah Holt Noel on Black Issues Forum to discuss their travels, working with kids and their most recent local project highlighted in the web series. Watch that episode of Black Issues Forum online now.