Get Ready for Dream Come True
Graduate Pursues Music Career
Inspired to pursue music while still in his teens, Lionell Ball remembers holing up in his room, listening to Michael Jackson, Marvin Sapp, Jack White, The Temptations, lots of other artists. “I’m from Detroit, so a lot of the Motown music resonates with me,” he said.
Ball, who is intent on earning a living in the music business, earned an Applied Science associate degree in Audio Production Technologies from GCC after moving to Arizona in 2006.
Though he loved writing and listening to music, he never really played until he entered college. That’s what he calls “ground zero” of his musical education. “You think you know something until you actually go to school and learn about it, as opposed to just listening and enjoying it,” he said. “Intuitively, you think you know, but as you learn about theory and other basics, you understand more about what you’re hearing.”
The music-education program at GCC helped him learn how to distinguish scales, how to read music, how to write music notation and other basics. He also learned about things he’d never thought about while growing up: licenses, music societies like ASCAP, business arrangements and contracts, and so on.
Additionally, he learned a lot about himself. “My creativity came alive while at GCC,” said Ball. He found a friendly environment on campus and jumped in with both feet. He participated in honor society Phi Theta Kappa, in which he served as vice-president of service. He was a board member of Associated Student Government (ASG) and a student leader in Male Empowerment Network (M.E.N.) “I was highly involved on campus; that’s what really helped me get through the program,” he reflected.
All of these activities helped to prepare him for the world of work. But it was Ball’s essential resourcefulness that led to his first internship in the music industry, at Jivemind (cooperative music labs, located in downtown Glendale, AZ). He met the owners when a friend and he went there for open mike and jazz sessions. Ball raised the prospect of an internship. Later, after a more specific discussion, Ball sealed the deal.
“I took the initiative,” said Ball. “The internship wasn’t advertised, but I jumped on the opportunity.” Ball believes initiative is one of the most important success factors in the entertainment business. He also regards it as an indispensible quality of a leader, citing a book by John Maxwell that has influenced him.
Mentoring support from Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe, founder and executive director of the Student African American Brotherhood Organization (SAAB) has also factored into his success, says Ball. SAAB is a national organization established to increase the number of African American and Latino men who graduate from college by creating a positive peer community based on a spirit of caring. Bledsoe was a keynote speaker for the GCC chapter of M.E.N.
Eventually, Ball would like to have his own studio where he can help as many people as he can: artists who perform, play or write music. He envisions helping them with life-planning skills as well as the mechanics of music. “My long-term goal is to help them get where they want to go,” he said.
Ball knows where he wants to go, and he’s willing to work hard to make it happen. If the Temptations were here to see his dedication and drive, they might croon, “Fee-fi-fo-fum….Look out baby, ’cause here I come.” He’s surely on his way.