WYEP’s Reimagination project provides a unique approach to music education for high school teens from the Pittsburgh region. Over the past eight years, we have engaged more than 240 young musicians looking to hone their skills, learn about the music industry and prepare to launch their careers. Reimagination alumni include GRAMMY-Award winning artist Daya, Emmy-Award winning artist Jessica Bitsura, American Idol contestant Sloane Simon, and blues phenom, Pierce Dipner.
About CJ Johnson:
CJ Johnson: Vocals, Piano, Organ, Synth
Danny Gochnour: Electric Guitar
Dave Hidek: Drums
If there’s one word to describe CJ Johnson, it’s “honest.” CJ, who is queer, mixes experience as part of the LGBTQ+ community, as well as struggles with anxiety and depression, with delightful pieces of pizzicato cello to pull together a unique style and feel. “I know that I am not alone in being treated like I’m ‘evil’ or just a bad person because of it. I wrote this piece because I wanted to speak out,” Johnson says, noting the song’s goal is to create a sense of empowerment and the ability to fight back. “My favorite part of the song is probably the final chorus. The way that everything comes together makes such a freeing sound. It is what I think it feels like to let go of the fear.”
Johnson paints a collage of sound inspired by the likes of Cody Fry, Ella Fitzgerald, jazz and symphonic music. Vocalist Johnson also plays piano, organ and synths on the song, accompanied by Danny Gochnour on guitar and Dave Hidek on drums.
And although they are first to jump into musical theater at school and has more than “40 pairs of dumb earrings” from cassette tapes to dinosaurs, the biggest influence is mom. “She always pushes me to be better and to follow my dreams in this industry.”
About Ashley Marina:
Ashley Marina: Vocals
Rick Witkowski: Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Snaps & Claps
Power is nothing if you can’t control it. But vocalist Ashley Marina has both covered in “Cover Me With You,” a song that reminds us all that hope, love and happiness can be ours when we find a higher power or person to push things in a positive direction.
Ashley’s no stranger to performing. She’s one of the most viral acts in “America’s Got Talent’s” history from when she was only 12. So, it’s no surprise she loves the legends: Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Etta James. Yet you won’t find her trying to copy them: “I just try to be me.”
Producer Rick Witkowski’s guitar chords kicked off the songwriting effort, but it was his enthusiasm and love for music that made the connection with Ashley. “And whether I go this way, or that way, I know I never need to fear,” she sings. One thing’s for sure — she’s on a path to go far.
About Marii 2X:
Marii 2x: Vocals
Livefromthecity: Beat and Music Production
Make no mistake, “I Am The Next Big Thing,” crows Marii 2x. “I’m very straight-forward when it comes to my music and give the people what they wanna hear. Whatever I feel they are gonna like best is what goes towards my music.”
Marii 2x sends some brotherly love to the family in the song, written as a top-of-mind piece about going in and having fun. The self-described “unique, raw, versatile” artist with love for Lil Baby, Noodah05 and YoungBoy is ready for the big time. We’re ready to see it happen.