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They’re making music — and history — in a legendary Southwest Washington house

Members of Queen Beez, a female empowerment program, spend an afternoon creating music tracks in Living Classrooms’ new community center in Southwest Washington. Angell Chiles, 20, left, and Samaria Edwards, 15, use keyboards and laptops to make music. (Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post)
Laurel Demkovich August 17 at 10:00 AM

In the basement of the newly renovated community center, 9-year-old Akeylah Edwards takes a seat in front of her computer and a small piano keyboard. Hanging on the wall next to her is a large red and pink painting with stickers reading “Girl Power” and “Talented.”

“Okay, everyone, create a track using four genres,” Deanna Hawkins instructs four students. “Use something you’ve never even heard of.”

Akeylah opens the music creation program GarageBand, creates a file and goes to work. She was making music — and history — in an old building with a new mission. That building is part of Living Classrooms, a nonprofit that aims to educate by doing and that recently moved into a new community center in Southwest Washington.

Akeylah, along with her two sisters, has only been learning music production since Living Classrooms’ summer camp started in late July, but she knows exactly what she’s doing.

She chooses prerecorded loops of music from five of GarageBand’s genres: hip-hop, RB, funk, world and jazz. She cups her hands to her headphones and nods proudly. When it’s time to share, Hawkins, D.C. music program coordinator for Living Classrooms, instructs the students to unplug their headphones and to play

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