Mar 3, 2021
Left to right: Stephen Brackett and Gail Bransteitter
Colorado Music Ambassador and Flobots emcee/lead singer Stephen Brackett talks about music as a tool for liberation, working with young people through his nonprofit Youth On Record and the state of music in Colorado with CCO Director of Marketing and Communications (and longtime friend) Gail Bransteitter. From the halls of George Washington High School to leadership of the Colorado arts world, Stephen and Gail have both been dedicated advocates and artists making a difference in our community for decades.
Learn more about the Colorado Music Ambassador position and the word of both Stephen and previous Colorado Music Ambassador Shawn King of DeVotchKa.
Stephen co-founded the rap/rock experimental band, the Flobots, nationally known for songs like “Handlebars” and “Rise” and their focus on social and political consciousness. Check out their music and mission at flobots.com. Watch for new songs dropping every three weeks in 2021!
The Flobots created the Denver nonprofit Youth on Record offering for-credit music classes in music production, poetry and ethnic studies during the school day in high schools and middle schools. Stephen sat on the board for about ten years, acted as board chair for two and stepped off the board to become Director of Special Programs last year. During the interview he mentions the Denver Children’s Home, learn more at www.denverchildrenshome.org.
Youth On Record offers free and open to the public, virtual programming five days out of the week. Explore their offerings and sign up at www.youthonrecord.org.
About Youth On Record, Stephen says:
“What started as an attempt of a band to do more than just soapbox but to actually live our lyrics and create pathways to challenging the power and agency that our songs were about, it actually grew into something that far exceeded our expectations. It has been the best contribution that could have come out of my musical career...That is the thing I’m most proud of.”
“We’re using (music classes) as a delivery method for liberation. We’re not teaching music classes for music’s sake, we are teaching music classes so that during the school day, these students have the opportunity to speak their world, their perspective, their view, and to do so with the excellence that the arts kind of require of you.”
“When you’re battling perfection, that means that you never win,
but the grit that you earn in trying to meet the impossible
gives you a kind of resilience that you can then leverage against
the rest of your academic day. That’s what I believe when
I’m talking about how music can be a great medium for liberation
and a great leverage point for somebody becoming a life-long
Stephen has been all over the news in Colorado for more than a year! Check out some of the headlines below:
B-boy: Someone involved with hip-hop culture, especially a breakdancer
Shout out to George Washington High School in Denver, where Gail and Stephen got to know one another and established a love of the arts.
Stephen on his influences:
“My influences right now are any of the students who are bold enough to get on stage during the talent show. When I see young creatives doing things when they haven’t learned the rules yet, and the kinda stuff they come out with when they are unafraid, is always a humbling lesson for me.”
A list of local artists we should know about from Stephen:
Stephen also draws inspiration from Disney songwriters Howard Ashman and Alan Menken.
Learn more about The Ballad of Baby Doe, an opera commissioned by and premiered at Central City Opera in the 1950s, based on the famous figure of Colorado history Baby Doe Tabor.
Watch the video version of this interview and more at centralcityopera.org/opera-central.