November 4, 2022

New Hire Q&A: Meet Youth on Record’s New Teaching Artists!

The Youth on Record team has been growing! Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to the new faces on our staff who are excited to be supporting and advancing Youth on Record’s mission. 










Meet Assétou Xango, Teaching Artist

Q: What creative outlet or expression is bringing you joy lately?
A: "Lesson planning! I’m really enjoying creative problem solving with my students, particularly with my students who are English-learning. Figuring out how to engage them with the material, and the best way to deliver the information, is oddly thrilling."

Q: What’s your current go-to comfort meal?
A: "I don’t know if I have a favorite comfort meal. I just put two peaches in the blender with cinnamon and nutmeg, so I guess that could be it!"

Q: What other artists are inspiring you lately?
A: "Akwaeke Emezi always inspires me. Their work is raw and enveloping, I aspire to write like them."

Q: Why does your work with Youth on Record inspire you?
A: "It’s a really exciting place to work. Not having to go to school to get my degree for teaching and still being able to be in the classroom and teach what I know from life experience and from professional experience is very rewarding. I love that I am still able to be an artist, create and focus on my art while being in the classroom consistently with my students. It’s a unique experience that I haven’t had anywhere else. It’s the best of both worlds."

avery jacob









Meet Avery Jacob, Teaching Artist

Q: What was the first concert you ever attended? And your latest concert?
A: "The first concert I’ve ever been to? Dang, that’s such a good question. I don’t know. I feel like my first concert ever was Rick Ross. Most recently, 070Shake–she’s from New Jersey. She was on Kanye West’s album 'Ye' on the song Ghost Town. You know, *sings* 'I feel kind of free.' She’s a really talented artist.

Q: How has your own music evolved over time?
A: "Over time, I just learned to lean into music that was a little bit more soul-stirring versus trying to make what felt most popular. In turn, not only did I take more risks, but I also was becoming more and more of my truer self. I’m discovering that a lot of people don’t really like music as much as I do, or something. Which seems like a naive way of thinking that people like music as much as you do. It’s always how I felt like, 'Aren’t you hearing this? Isn’t this incredible?' It isn’t even about us liking the same type of music, it’s just about having the same reverence for music. I feel like not everybody has that. So it’s been interesting to learn that throughout time. I thought music was like food, you know."

Q: Tell us why you’re passionate about your work with Youth on Record
A: "
Because I think that the next generation of young creatives is really incredible and I would just very much like to continue to be a mentor to that next generation of young creatives and to just be a sounding board for them, and to just inspire them. There are a lot of students that I’ve seen thus far that have kind of a laissez-faire approach to music but as soon as they get to making music of their own, they get really excited and they just want somebody to hear it. It’s just cool to see that spark."

Q: What’s a secret talent of yours?
A: "I make a mean grilled cheese–I can’t tell you the secret–that’s all I can tell you, it’s really good."

Vonna wolf








Meet Vonna Wolf, Teaching Artist

Q: Who inspired you when you were a kid? Who inspires you now? 
A: "It was probably my grandparents. Both of my grandmas worked and went to school and graduated from high school in the 20s and 30s and that was not common. One of my grandmas came to business school out here and that’s when she met my grandpa because he was in the hospital because of the war. And she was just going with her friend, and they liked to go to the movies and stuff, and she met him in a full body cast and the fact that she didn’t know what he looked like but she had talked to him, heard him, and still fell in love with him. I just think that’s cool. And I wouldn’t exist if that wasn’t a thing, and that concept is just weird.

And now who inspires me? It’s probably my other grandma. She worked in the kitchen at school and also sewed dresses and did all kinds of stuff and just made whatever happened happen. And I’m inspired by everybody, because everybody has something to offer. It doesn’t matter, you can find it in the lady at the store because she’s just being extra nice and everyone around her is being a jerk or because somebody can make something out of nothing or because they have words that just spit out of them like water."

Q: What excites you about working for Youth on Record? 
A: "The fact that me being an artist and me being an instructor is a “thing.” I don’t have to pick one or the other. I became a musician to be an instructor. The fact that that’s valued in the pedagogy and the teachings. The fact that it comes from my root. And I think of the 'Pedagogy of the Oppressed.' I was introduced to that book when I was 17 years old in my first college class at UNC. It changed me as an instructor because I went to school for teaching and then I changed majors bunches of times to settle on being a music teacher. It’s really developed my practice and the fact that I’m very at home, working in the neighborhood I went to school in and grew up in."

Q: What do you wish you could tell your young creative self? 
A: "Be loud. I’m already loud and I don’t exercise my loudness as much as I should. If I could’ve been loud then, being loud wouldn’t be uncomfortable all of the time. There’s nothing wrong with just going outside and singing regardless of what anybody thinks. Or dancing and twirling in the middle of the street–it feels good and I don’t care who is looking. I really don’t. It could bother other people and I don’t care that it bothers them. I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but the fact that you’re trying to stop my beauty and my glitter because it makes you feel uncomfortable, you get it, sorry! Glitter is hard to clean up."

Q: Is there anything else we should know about you? 
A: "I like to use visual practices and photographic techniques to create images that become synthesized. Using traditional audio-synthesis and principles and bringing those into drum rack and other sounds that are in my work both visually and audibly so that they can work together to create an immersive experience. I just like all the pretty colors! I love to dance, I love to sing. All of it."

Fun Fact: Vonna was also recently accepted to the Chinookfund’s The Giving Project program. She’ll be refining her skill sets in fundraising, grantmaking, and community building.