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Youth Spotlight: John Slaughter

John, a recent graduate of Madison Park Vocational Technical High School, loves music. “Music is life to me. It can take me somewhere that nothing else can. I’m happier when I’m playing music than if I had a million dollars.” This love of music brought John to Sociedad Latina’s Youth Artists program four years ago at the start of his freshman year of high school and our supportive staff, positive environment, and array of programming have kept him actively engaged ever since. No one else in John’s family is a musician, so he credits Sociedad Latina with pushing him to accomplish his musical goals: “I feel like I have a family here.”

This year, John played keyboard for Sociedad Latina’s prestigious Latin Jazz ensemble, which writes and records original songs and performs across Boston. With other members of the ensemble, he worked on four original songs for this year’s Youth Artist CD, including “Si Se Puede,” “Strong,” “Yoshi’s” and “Something New.” Because John grew up down the street, he particularly enjoys expressing himself and sharing messages with his Mission Hill neighborhood through music. He also took a leadership role in our community classes, supporting our younger music students to build their confidence and skills.

The impact of our multi-faceted programming is evident in John’s personal growth. “Because of Sociedad Latina I’m more outgoing and more open-minded. They force you to speak at events a lot. And there are people from different countries, races and backgrounds here, so you get to understand where they’re coming from.” We look forward to following John as he pursues his career as a musician, confident that he has the tools and the support to accomplish his diverse goals. Last summer, John was awarded a City Music Summer Scholarship to attend the Summer Performance Program at Berklee College of Music. He then enrolled in the Bunker Hill Community College’s A.A. in Music program in the fall. He hopes to transfer to Berklee to complete his B.A. degree and eventually pursue a career in music.