Mayor hopes gospel music will revitalize Louisville's west end - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mayor hopes gospel music will revitalize Louisville's west end

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the city will help fund a new education program in the west end -- one that focuses primarily on gospel music.

And he's hoping a Bible school can lead students in poor neighborhoods to prosperity.

The sounds coming from an old brick building on 18th and Dumesnil would make you think it's a Sunday morning. But the joyful noise of gospel music actually marks a re-dedication of the campus now known as Simmons West.

Leaders say it will be west Louisville's first digital college campus, focusing on multi-media platforms including film, digital engineering and -- particularly -- gospel music production.

"We're anticipating the development of a digital media and music program that will be housed in this facility," said Dr. Frank Smith, executive vice president of Simmons College of Kentucky. "We believe this is a niche that we as an institution can offer to young people that will [teach] them about education and give them a skill set that will make them marketable in the future."

Sound engineer Michael Lacy explains it's an open field.

"Different churches -- they have the equipment, but they don't have the people to do the job," Lacy said. "A lot of people are looking for people who are knowledgeable, and this can create jobs for them."

It begins to re-write the story for the building last used for the site of Youth Alive.

The support program for low-income children shut down after four kids died in a crash leaving an event in a stolen car. The driver, Herbert Lee, was convicted of manslaughter.

"This is part of our 55,000 college degrees in this community by the year 2020," said Mayor Greg Fischer.

Simmons West will also house after school, GED and other college programs. A handful of computers are already on-site. Much more technical equipment is needed.

"We feel like we can help them with some of the digital media aspects of that with our Office of Economic Innovation," Fischer said.

Using the church, not just as a hope for prosperity, but rather a tool to help get there.

"We think it will be a tremendous opportunity," Smith said.

Simmons is partnering with the Interdenominational Ministerial Coalition and the Justice Resource Center for the new program. They hope to launch this fall.

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