The Battery Tour is a series of visually engaging public performances combined with a music creation component. AY Young will work with key community members, and collaborate with other local visual and performing artists, designers and more to provide free, interactive public events powered by renewable energy sources.
Funding will be used to purchase a few equipment needs, including extra solar panels, as well as to pay for marketing materials, cover music/recording and video costs, and compensate all collaborating artists for the live events.
AY says: ‘Kansas City is in the middle of a battle. The rise in the privatization of previously public spaces is destroying the community’s right to utilize civic space for its own benefit.’ For decades, the predominantly Black areas of Kansas City have struggled to provide community members with a positive outlet that’s engaging, fun, interactive and accessible – both financially & physically. Within recent years, Kansas City has enforced city-wide curfews, shut down late evening functions for under 21, and privatized many public spaces throughout the city. From the point of view of AY and his peers, almost every option Kansas City’s youth to enjoy free recreation or open gathering spaces within the urban core have disappeared.
AY believes that the power of music is undeniable. Music has the ability to affect people’s thinking and inspire them to action. The central motivation behind this project for AY is to facilitate change and inspire community involvement through a three-pronged approach: message, mode, and manner.
No matter the original source of inspiration for the artist, a song’s lyrics and message undoubtedly influence its listeners and their minds. For this reason, he has chosen to focus his efforts on carefully crafted messages to uplift his audience and encourage positivity and appreciation for local community.
Dance is a liberating and therapeutic art form that reduces inhibitions and allows for creative expression – and AY believes that facilitating change using this mode of restorative performance will leave a lasting impact on all who participate.
The last element is interaction. The manner in which AY conducts the performances is to focus on the people who show up, and he attracts an audience that mixes up age and race. The BT is the people’s show – the people’s platform, with the actively engaged audience being just as integral to the experience as the artists or collaborators This project is ultimately designed to build community unity, empathy, love, and joy in Kansas City’s communities.
AY Young was born and raised in Kansas City, and lived in the same neighborhood his entire life. Alongside his other siblings, he was home-schooled by his mom until he was a high school sophomore. The experience of being home-schooled shaped his love of learning, community, and family. At a young age, his parents instilled the importance of giving back to their community. As a family, they were very involved in their neighborhood, attending community meetings, church, and youth clubs, volunteering in cleanups, food drives, and more. AY’s dad served as the President of their neighborhood association for over 14 years, impressing on his children the need for a positive change in their community.
AY began collaborating with his musician brother during college breaks at home and got his professional start after being selected to appear on the X Factor TV show. After the success of the show he wanted to perform the music he wrote and produced to a receptive audience but he had trouble finding an outlet locally. Places to perform are hard to book, and he found he never quite “fit in” the Kansas City music scene. He finally decided that I would bring his music directly to the people.
Once he discovered how to power a full portable concert (using solar panels and/or batteries) he decided to call it the Battery Tour. After making his first song “Say Hey” he found musicians, live paint artists, and dancers to collaborate with for each BT show to draw crowds and bring people together. The show became interactive naturally: AY would take requests from the audience, play line dances, and open the show to the public for open mic/etc. His concept is simple – he truly believes people want to be a part of something bigger. He believes the success of the Battery Tour stems from making music into a social movement that empowers people to be themselves.
Alana Young Grant Writer
Christen Barber Executive Director