New Staff Q&A: Meet Youth on Record’s New Visibility Manager, Director of Business and Culture, and Operations Manager/Executive Assistant
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 Haley Witt, Visibility Manager
Q: Tell us why you chose to work at Youth on Record? What drew you to work here? Why do you choose to invest in the next generation of young creatives?
A: “Whew, big questions. Well, when I moved to Seattle at age 18, I found a wealth of resources in the city for young creatives and musicians under 21. I immersed myself in the local arts community and connected with long-lasting mentors and friends. Organizations and experiences like TeenTix, The Vera Project, MoPop’s Sound Off!, City of Music Career Day, and KXSU 102.1FM truly changed my life. When I moved to Denver, I knew that I wanted to connect to a similar community–something at the intersections of youth, music, and mentorship. Youth on Record truly checked all the boxes and goes above and beyond in service of young and emerging artists. Also, I still identify as a “young creative,” and I do technically still fall within the service range of our programming. My early career thus far has been dedicated to serving youth populations (mostly high school and college students) and I think it’s just such a critical time in one’s life to receive mentorship, affirmation, encouragement, and support. There are plenty of voices in the ether that discourage young people from pursuing creative careers. Providing economic opportunities and showcasing totally legitimate career pathways for young creatives is absolutely critical right now. The work Youth on Record does truly cultivates confidence, sense-of-belonging, and tangible opportunities for young people–and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of that mission.”
Q: Who is on your playlist right now?
A: “Jacob Collier, Katy Kirby, Noname, The Brook & the Bluff, Samia, NoSo, Lizzy McAlpine, the list goes on…”
Q: How do you discover new music?
A: “My dad has the best music taste of anyone I’ve ever known, so we’re constantly swapping playlists. But I love hearing what my friends play when they’re on aux, and I also love taking a long evening to click through Spotify and find new artists and stalk my friends’ latest playlists for new music. My Spotify is meticulously organized, because I’ve been using the same system for music organization since I was 14. It’s nerdy, I’m nerdy.”
Q: Why is Visibility important?
A: “Our ability to serve the community is only strengthened by increased visibility. The more awareness we can grow, the more artists we can serve and the more effective we can be. It’s my job to make sure that communities know our story and know how to support us.”
Q: What is one piece of advice you would tell your teenage self?
A: “Being creative is actually about failure. It’s about being messy. It’s not about being the shiniest thing in the room. It’s about allowing the fullest expression of the feeling to rise to the surface. Artistic expression was never intended to be competitive, to be scary, to be rooted in the ego. I’m still learning this lesson, bit by bit.”
Meet Christie (CC) Chambers, Director of Business and Culture
Q: How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you?
A: “I would describe myself to someone who has never met me as outgoing, friendly, charismatic, happy, pretty intense * she laughs,* compassionate, kind, and wildly loyal.”
Q: What are the songs you like to sing in the shower?
A: “Ooh, shower songs. Well, as a professional singer, I sing in every room in the house, including the shower. But in the shower because of the resonance of the walls, I like to sing really beautiful, like “Hallelujah,” [by Leonard Cohen], like beautiful resonance-y songs are probably my shower go-tos. One of my recent shower go-tos has been my dad’s originals. La Luna De Senora is one of my go-tos in the shower. Outside of the shower, it’s like kid songs for the win. Every different genre and style of wheels on the bus.”
Q: What excites you about the YOR Mission?
A: “Oh, my goodness. Everything. I believe so deeply in the Youth on Record mission because I believe so deeply in young people. Young creatives, specifically, are our future. As a music industry professional, my entire life, I feel like working with and around and supporting a community of young creatives is supporting this industry that I also love. It’s this full circle giveback kind of thing for me. And, I was a young creative. So for me, there’s this piece of it that’s so relatable–I see myself in them and hope to lead and mentor in a way that they can see themselves in me. So it’s a full giveback and it’s a take of the creative energy that they give, so it’s a give and take and I love it. I love everything about the Youth on Record mission. And I love the UMS partnership, it’s everything. The reason that I changed careers is because of this mission and I wanted to be a part of it. And I mean it.”
Q: What’s your current creative outlet?
A: “Music. I still gig and play shows as a professional vocalist and I’m teaching music to my son, passing it along to my little mini generation up-and-comer. My whole creative outlet is music. Writing songs with him, performing, listening to it, dancing, going to shows, it’s always been music.”
Q: What’s something that is bringing you joy lately and is there anything else we should know about you?
A: “My new job at Youth on Record and my son. It’s fulfilling to believe in the work that you’re doing so that you go home and feel good about yourself. My son, of course, Theo, who is four. Watching him grow and all the different stages as wild, wondrous, and dangerous as they may be has been a thrill to be part of as his family. Family and friends. Music, of course, everything roots to music in my life. And then something most people don’t know about me is that I love the folklore of mermaids. I am obsessed with mermaids. I have a full leg tattoo of a mermaid that wraps around my leg and I love the whole folklore of it. So these sirens who had this bad side but were beautiful–and they were singers that would lure in sailors by their beautiful voices. So that’s always a thing that people laugh when I say I’m obsessed with mermaids. I have been for a very long time. And because I come half from Colorado and I did a stint in Florida, I call myself a 'mountain mermaid.' Maybe a siren who lived in the river once, I’m not sure. I love water, I’m a big swimmer.”
Meet Melissa Olivas, Operations Manager/Executive Assistant
Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: “I wanted to be a vet. Even in high school, I wanted to be a vet. And then things changed when I realized that I wasn’t very good at science in college *she laughs.* I love all animals. I love dogs, cats, horses, I’ve even always loved reptiles. I love everything except spiders.”
Q: Tell us about your journey with Youth on Record…
A: “It’s a long one. Back in 2017, I was looking for a teacher that would help me learn music theory within six months because I was super set on getting into the music school at CU Denver. So I found Diana Rose (at Youth on Record) and started working with her and learned music theory in those six months, and I got into the program. Then, Diana was leaving and asked if I wanted a position in the Sounds Seeds program and so I started working with Youth on Record. After the Sound Seeds program ended, I still wanted to be involved so I became a volunteer. I ended up leaving the music school and came back to CU Denver to go to business school and I became a marketing intern at Youth on Record. Then, I still wanted to be involved but there weren’t any open positions yet and then COVID had started so I lost touch for a bit. But in the meantime, I got the experience I needed to apply for the Operations Manager position and here I am now.”
Q: What’s on your playlist right now?
A: “Let’s see… A lot of latin music, a lot of reggaeton, a lot of Harry Styles, just a mixture of genres. I’ve been listening to mainly Feid, he’s a reggaeton artist and is up-and-coming. Oh, and Porlolo–I’ve been listening to “I Was a Fool” nonstop.”
Q: What local food spot has your heart?
A: “Oh my god. It’s in Denver and it’s a Mexican hamburger stand called Hamburguesas Don Jesús. And I think everyone needs to know about it because it’s so good.”
Q: How does your work with Youth on Record make you hopeful for the future?
A: “When I was growing up I wish I had known about programs like this. I think that our mission of helping underserved youth is the future–they’re our future. It’s so important to put them [creative youth] as a priority and give them the resources they need to actually succeed in America, which is not the most helpful place to be for POC. Belonging to an organization that’s giving them a voice, helping them find their voice, and helping them find the resources they need to succeed, that makes me hopeful.”