CJ Stewart, program leader for February, and Rose Caplan, new AWER member, teamed up to present our speaker Mr. Dantes Rameau, Chief Executive Officer of Atlanta Music Project, which he founded in 2010. Through slides, video, and his understated but powerful self, Dantes showed the enormous impact when underserved youth receive opportunities and support to achieve at the highest levels. Dantes has been building on stellar educational experiences at McGill University in his home nation of Canada, graduating from advanced programs at Yale University, Carnegie Mellon University, the New England Conservatory, and El Sistema in Venezuela, among others. He cannot stop learning and he cannot stop enabling children to have premier learning opportunities. While at Yale, he connected with children in a neighborhood 2.5 miles from the revered Yale campus who did not believe he was a Yalie, thinking him to be masquerading as someone else. This illustrates one Dantes’s biggest problems in the world of untapped youth talent – feeling current circumstances predestines one to a narrow future, resulting in an unwillingness to give the extra effort needed to achieve, trapped by believing big things are not for them. The history of the Atlanta Music Project blows to smithereens such backward thinking as scores of AMP children are soaring to music excellence – 349 students enrolled in 2019. Dantes acknowledges the privileges gained from his own fully determined, focused, and loving parents, but refuses to let other children, who lack his social and spiritual wealth, to doubt their potential. Not that challenges are easily overcome. Dantes cited Jordan, one with wonderful talent, but who was disorganized, at times troubled and missing out. But Dantes was undaunted! Now Jordan, through a commitment from Dantes (“seemed like I was the only one who could get to him”), crashes through the minimum 6 hours of music work required for AMP kids – to typically charting 10-15 hours weekly. One word Dantes emphasizes undergirding AMP’s success is Intensity - because without it AMP’s instructors and students will not break through the complexities involved in earning music excellence … such as performing the National Anthem at the NCAA Final Four, which AMP students will be doing this April.