Described by conceptualizers as ‘the world’s first and only digital audio and music business programme’, The Air Born Academy is a state-of-the-art recording facility located right here in Saint Lucia. The Academy is recognised by The Institute of Audio Research in New York, and has been in existence for just over one year. The Academy is currently open to students aged 13-16, but starting this year will introduce programmes for youth and adults from age 13 and up. This week the STAR spoke with Cory Carson Raggie, CEO of the Air Born Academy who gave us an insider perspective on the future of the Academy and its contributions to the music industry in Saint Lucia.
What does ‘Air Born’ mean in the context of what the academy aims to do?
Cory: Being “Air Born” is my concept and philosophy on approaching anything in life. “The sky is not the limit when you’re ‘Air Born’” is my quote. I believe that we were born to fly. The Air Born Academy was always a concept I envisioned. At age 12 I had a home studio where I produced the theme music for Kiddi Crew Productions. At 15 I created and produced jingles for Cable & Wireless and other companies. At age 18 to 20, recorded Vybz Kartel, Bunji Garlin, Kiprich, RoundHead, Tallpree, and The Mighty Pelay to name a few. Combining this work experience and after working at Universal Records in NYC with all of the best international artists, I felt I needed to create opportunities that did not exist.
Why do you think there is a need for something like this in Saint Lucia?
Cory: The impact of technology in the music industry. The music industry is rapidly evolving and we need to stay current if we are going to seriously compete with many other talented individuals around the world.
What is the goal or mission of this initiative?
Cory: Our mission is to firstly establish and set a new standard in music around the region and improve the quality which involves every aspect of music creation: the planning, composing, beat making, song writing, recording, mixing, mastering, and from the music business to music archiving. Our goal is to create opportunities for people to gain work experience while they learn – The Air Born way of learning. The Air Born Academy studio, called The Icon Room, is a fully functional state-of-the-art recording facility so every project being worked on, whether it’s a nickelodeon project or a local radio advert, is worked on by everyone at the ABA.
You were widely recognised in Saint Lucia in your ‘Wild Child’ music days; what are some of the areas of influence that made music such a great passion for you?
Cory: I’ve always believed in myself and what I was capable of. I never allowed myself to think otherwise or to listen to other people’s views that might have been limiting.
From being an artist to now, why did you decide to modify your pursuit, or positioning, in the music industry?
Cory: It was something that came easily to me at a young age and after working extremely hard at it for several years while being an artist I began receiving international creditability with key players in the industry. When a well-known Grammy award engineer said, “You don’t need my help anymore, your mixes are good,” and started asking me for advice, in addition to platinum recording artists starting to request my work, I then felt like I was really born to do this.
Give an idea of the sort of training the Academy provides.
Cory: Training is hands-on, collaborative and part-time. The facility is also a fully functional facility, so from voiceovers, jingles, radio/TV, to even 7.1 surround for cinema post-production, all of this can be done at the highest quality in the world. We also have a great team who provide high quality video production, live sound concerts and consulting in the creative field from music to fashion.
What sort of certification do participants gain?
Cory: Certification of participation, which allows them to get financial assistance to the best audio school in NYC.
What is the most rewarding aspect for you in terms of offering this service to Saint Lucia?
Cory: The most rewarding aspect is knowing that I am providing students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is something that I never had growing up. There are many recognised musicians around the Caribbean who’ve never gotten the opportunity to create music in a state-of-the-art facility until now.