‘Standing up taller’

MVY Radio’s Summer Youth Performance Series creates a collaborative, valuable experience for young performers.


The MVY Radio Summer Youth Performance Series celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer, with a new venue and a new format. Back in 2013, this event began as a collaboration with Alex’s Place at the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard, taking place at the Aquinnah library outside on the deck. This summer, for the first time, the event is taking place on the deck at the West Tisbury library with an open-mic format. This gives Islanders of all talents — stand-up comedians, instrumentalists, vocalists, poets, actors and actresses, dancers, and many more — the opportunity to take the stage. Folks will be able to gather around the deck at the library and enjoy an hour of fantastic performances, while watching these young performers gain the self-confidence and stage presence this event aims to inspire in them.

Laurel Redington — MVY Radio community outreach director, DJ, and coordinator of the performance series — stated that they welcome performers of all kinds, although it does tend to end up being mostly musicians. “It’s about self expression and connecting with the community,” she said.

Redington also noted how Laura Hearn, youth services and young adult librarian at the West Tisbury library, has helped her to organize the event this year, in terms of opening up the space and being a wonderful, helpful host.

The event is geared towards young performers. “Kids who are musical and writing their own things or doing covers can gain some very valuable performance experience, performing in front of audiences, learning how to have a conversation with the audience, getting comfortable with fear and stagefright,” Redington shared.

Collaboration is key, whether that be between the young performers, the performers and audience members, or between performers and mentors. Adult mentors are helping out this summer, working with the performers and helping them find their musical stage presence. Andy Herr, a performer and a music teacher on the Island, is a member of the MVY Community Advisory Board (CAB). Redington shared that Herr has been helping her for a number of years, playing and collaborating with the young performers. “For instance, just yesterday, a bass player came and he did a little bass jam and Andy ended up getting up there with him and doing a little bit of impromptu jamming where they did some instrumentals and then he followed along on a vocal that Andy sang,” Redington shared. This allows kids to meet other musicians, step out of their comfort zones, and encourage each other in their musical pursuits. Redington shared that she is working to make the event more driven by the young people themselves, embracing the importance of youth empowerment. She has a young MC — Hogan Teles, a local student on the Vineyard — taking to the stage to run the event.

It is even more important these days to help kids and young adults feel comfortable in their own skin. “Communication is the biggest thing in the world, and since we’re a radio station, we play music, but we are also about communication,” Redington said. By performing in front of people, these kids are not only overcoming the fear of sharing their music with an audience, they are learning the importance of communication, whether that be through instrument or voice.

Incredible things happen when young performers come into their own and share their music and ideas with the world, Redington says. She shared that her favorite thing about the performances is watching the kids. “It’s watching these kids, watching their body language change, watching their faces change when they’re feeling the fear and doing it anyway. When they are recognizing that they’re being heard, they’re being valued, they’re not being controlled.

Watching these young people really kind of stand up taller inside of themselves — it’s really a very subtle, intangible kind of thing in the way they carry themselves.”

Gabi Gamberg, a recent high school graduate from the Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, is one of the talented artists who performed at the music series. Gabi is a singer-songwriter as well as a music producer. With a focus on indie rock music, Gabi has already released her first EP, “Crisis Kit,” on all streaming platforms, which she wrote at age 15 and released at age 16. Now 18 years old, she will be starting at the New York University Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music this coming fall, with lots of performing experience under her belt.

Gabi has spent many years visiting the Vineyard because of her mom, who grew up on the Island. Her mom told her about the music series after meeting Laurel Redington, who invited Gabi to come play. “As a young person, it can be kind of difficult getting into the music scene and getting yourself out there, and when people have these safe spaces where you can perform and get used to performing and meet other young people who are also working on the same thing, it invites you to collaborate and grow as a performer,” Gabi said. She shared that events like this invite people to come out of their shells without any pressure. “You can be a fantastic songwriter and make songs in your bedroom and that’s great, but to be in the industry and to be a performing artist, the only way to get good at that is to actually be performing,” Gabi continued.

When asked about what the music series meant to her, Gabi shared that it was an incredibly grounding and enjoyable experience. “It is kind of like a release, like letting go of the stuff you have been working on and all the emotions that have been a part of that process.”

Gabi found the MVY Summer Youth Performance Series to be a wonderful place to share her music with others. She was able to connect with the audience in a way that other gigs have not allowed her to because it was all about the music. “Everybody there was so kind and so open and really listening. Everybody was really engaged and listening, and it was really intimate, so you could talk to the people listening and feel that really good sense of community. It’s such a great place to express those emotions that come along with creation.”

The MVY Summer Youth Performance Series encapsulates all that is community and collaboration. Not only does it boast great music and artistic performances, but it helps these young performers to express themselves without fear, realizing the power of their own abilities.

“The most uplifting part of this whole event is to be able to watch our young people trust themselves and know that they can, under their own power and bravery, create some pretty extraordinary moments for themselves,” Redington shared.

The MVY Radio Summer Youth Performance Series occurs on Wednesdays, 5 to 6 pm, at the West Tisbury library. The last performance will take place on August 24. For more details, email wt_mail@clamsnet.org or call 508-693-3366.