Ferndale fundraising concert to benefit youth music foundation

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published November 26, 2013

 Farmington Hills native Callaghan Belle will be the featured performer for the Axis Music Foundation fundraising concert Dec. 15 in Ferndale.

Farmington Hills native Callaghan Belle will be the featured performer for the Axis Music Foundation fundraising concert Dec. 15 in Ferndale.

Photo submitted by Charilyn Smerek

FERNDALE — Despite working in the music industry from Los Angeles to New York City, Farmington Hills native Callaghan Belle has not forgotten how she became interested in pursuing a music career.

“Before I was a professional or anything big at all, I would go to my grandma’s house and play guitar for my cousin, who has Down syndrome, and he would bang on my guitar and speak in sign language to have me play more,” Belle, 18, said. “It is extraordinary to see the power of music, no matter who you are or how old you are.”

Belle got her big break in early 2012 when she reached out to Ken Caillat — a Grammy Award-winning music producer who has worked with Fleetwood Mac and Billy Idol, and Caillat’s daughter, Colbie Caillat.

Before that, however, Belle began taking classes at the Axis Music Academy at the age of 11, and her goal was always to use her talent to reach other youth. When the Axis Music Foundation, based in Southfield, was started last year, Belle became a student ambassador for the foundation.

On Dec. 15 in Ferndale, Belle will be the featured performer for a fundraising concert to raise money to support the Axis’s many programs, such as vocal performance and music discovery, which are offered at no cost to the children taking part in the foundation’s programs.

“Through Axis, I’ve got the chance to work with all sorts of people, and I get to be a role model for these 11-year-old girls who want to sing or play guitar like me,” she said. “I love supporting the people that helped get me to where I am, and I will never forget where I came from. Any chance I get to be involved with Axis and the foundation, I definitely take it.”

The Axis Music Academy is a music school for youth with locations in Southfield, Birmingham and Canton, which allows local music students to mentor the kids with special needs.

After more than 17 years of her husband running Axis Music Academy, Andrea Antone started up the foundation as executive director. The nonprofit was started last year to give sick and disabled children a chance to express themselves through music.

“The ways are awesome and endless,” Antone said. “Whatever walk of life these kids are going through at any given time, giving them an opportunity to see a live performance, to dance, to be a part of a music program, it’s so awesome.”

Axis Music Foundation hosts concerts quarterly, and the upcoming event will feature eight solo artists, six bands and one featured performer in Belle.

The fundraiser will also feature an art exhibit benefiting Paint A Miracle Art Studio in Rochester — the partner organization working with Axis for its final fundraising concert of the year. The studio has been around since 2002 and features a gallery spotlighting artists using hands-on creativity to overcome obstacles.

“The studio is designed to serve the needs of children and adults living with disabilities,” explained Shelly Tyshka, executive director. “We offer fine art classes and exhibition opportunities to artists of all ages and abilities.”

Paint A Miracle’s genesis began long before its doors actually opened as a community charity, when Tyshka’s dad, Dale Propson, was hit by a drunken driver in 1985 and suffered a massive brain injury, losing most of his eyesight.

“It completely devastated him and my family; he was never able to go back to work as a pediatric dentist,” she said.

As the years passed and Propson had completed his rehabilitation, he began to wonder what he would do with his days, Tyshka explained. That’s when he stumbled upon an art studio and tried his hand at it.

“He started painting, and what he did is redefined himself as an artist. We saw this total transformation in him, and he now had a reason to get up in the morning.”

Tyshka said they enjoy partnering with other art-based organizations, which expand the horizons and interests of the people Paint A Miracle serves. Paint A Miracle artists paint, draw, sculpt and work with fiber arts, and their work will be on sale at the event, she added.

During the fundraiser and art show, Belle said she would perform, but then take some time to talk with the kids and sign autographs.

She said she remembers how she felt growing up and wanting to play music, so she wants every kid who has the itch to have the same opportunity.

“For me, personally, music is a great way to express myself, and I can’t imagine not writing songs,” Belle said. “I think if a kid expresses an interest in guitar lessons or piano, they should go for it because parents don’t know how it will help them. My parents wanted me to do anything else, but I wouldn’t stop asking, and when a kid wants to do something like that so bad, let them take that opportunity.”

The Axis and Paint A Miracle fundraiser will be held from 2-5:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Local Kitchen & Bar, located at 344 W. Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. Tickets, which are 100 percent tax-deductible, cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth ages 18 and younger.

Tickets can be purchased at a local Axis Music Academy or at the door. For more information about the host organizations, visit www.axismusicfoundation.org or www.paintamiracle.org.

Staff Writer Jessica Strachan contributed to this report.