Big Sean: Donating $100K recording studio 'most bossed-up thing I could do'

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — Growing up on the city's west side, Sean Anderson spent time at the Children's Center, and boys and girls clubs where he was empowered by community leaders to follow his passions. 

Now known widely as Big Sean, he hasn't forgotten those that aided his success and works to give other youth from his hometown the same opportunity and guidance.

The rapper celebrated his second annual DON Weekend, short for Detroit's On Now, kicking off Saturday at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Boys and Girls Club with hundreds of youth and their parents and continuing Sunday, where he joined fans for bowling at the Garden Bowl on Woodward..

There, he unveiled the Sean Anderson Foundation Content & Production Studio, a state-of-the-art facility that will be available for useby students and adults. The facility's construction was supported by a $100,000 grant from the Sean Anderson Foundation. 

Anderson smiled and recorded youth performances as they sang their covers and original songs and filmed music videos. The facility aims to expose people to different aspects of the entertainment industry, including production and behind-the-scenes work.

Sean Anderson, known as Big Sean, addresses the crowd during a ceremony to inaugurate the Sean Anderson Foundation Production Studio at the Dauch Boys and Girls Club, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 in Detroit.  (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News)

He said the studio was vital to his mission to empower youth and keeping up the city’s legendary music reputation.

"The recording studio is so important because Detroit is such a musical city, soulful city and there are so many kids that have the talent but just don’t have to resources to record," Anderson said. "While performing, there was someone controlling the lights, and engineering the music... I feel like it’s the most bossed-up thing I could do. I hope I can build 10 more."

Shawn H. Wilson, President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, said youth from the city's west side "couldn't fathom" that they'd spend the day with Big Sean.

"He could have taken this give-back weekend to downtown or midtown, but he chose to bring it to this west-side community," Wilson said. "It means more to us and these children, who asked me, 'is Sean really coming?' they can't even fathom he's coming to their neighborhood."

In the Cody Rouge community, where youth have a 37.5% graduation rate, according to the center, they are working with partnerships to install Green Lights, improve street lighting and implementing classes for adults as well as youth.

Myles Park, a student leader at the boys and girls club, said he wouldn't be as outspoken or involved in the community if it weren't for the skills he learned from the center on Tireman Avenue.

"There are coworking spaces for start-ups and leadership courses for youth and entrepreneurs," he said. "There's so much we planned for and proud to see all of these moonshots we wanted have become a reality.

Wilson said they have partnered with the Sean Anderson foundation for the last four years and "it keeps getting better each year."

Sean Anderson, known as Big Sean, and his mother Myra Anderson, left, head to the stage as they are acknowledged by the crowd, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019 in Detroit.  (Jose Juarez/Special to Detroit News)

Big Sean's mother, Myra Anderson, said when they were planning the event, they didn't want to do something typical, like a concert.

"I wanted it to have meaning," said Myra Anderson, who heads up the Sean Anderson Foundation, the charitable organization named for her son which was launched in 2012. "I want people to go away with something that's more lasting in their lives than just having fun for a few days."

She said the studio was an important installment because "it helps to get kids off the street and this center is such a good, clean place for them to grow."

The event Saturday included live music, carnival rides, free haircuts and hair braiding, food trucks and games.

The Don Weekend also partnered with Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Mary Sheffield's Occupy the Corner – Detroit initiative.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest attended the event saying, he too, benefited from community investments at centers he grew up in on the city's east side.

"This is the kind of space that enables people to be their best selves in community and in the state of Michigan," he said. "I feel that it is my role as lieutenant governor, working alongside our Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, to help create the conditions for people to be successful and prosper in Michigan." 

The weekend wrapped up with the bowling-themed party at Garden Bowl.

Anderson said there's a stigma around mental health among the community, especially black men, in the city they hope to tackle on Sunday.

"I'm blessed enough to go through bettering my mental health and it's changed how I operate on a daily basis for a better," he said. "I feel like that's our main purpose is to teach and to tell because it'll help somebody else out."

Twitter: @SarahRahal_