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POMPANO BEACH (CBSMiami) – Female artists are rare in the DJ and audio engineering industry. That is something Tiffany Miranda learned the hard way.
“There were no female mentors,” said Miranda, who has been performing music for 15 years. “I literally had doors shut in my face, where people were like, this isn’t something girls do. Leave it to the guys.”
In the beginning, singing was Miranda’s passion.
“I had been offered contracts at a very young age, and I had been exposed to a lot of the recording studios,” she said. “I was also featured in American Idol. I made it to Hollywood the year Carrie Underwood won.”
As a teenager and young woman in a sometimes cut-throat business, Miranda found herself questioning the role she was asked to play.
She started exploring what she could do to make her own sound, without having to rely on other people. She learned the ins and outs of music production, technical skills that came naturally to her, from her years watching her father work as an electrician.
“It was just a different level of respect, once I eventually broke the barriers and gained that respect and those skill sets,” she said. “But it definitely is known to be an industry that’s not really catered to young girls and women, so we’re definitely hoping to change that.”
That change starts at Girls Make Beats, where Miranda is teaching girls to DJ and produce music of their own at the historic Ali Cultural Arts, a significant building and arts center for the African American community over the years, a place where jazz musicians, including Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway stayed during segregation.
Kyla Bryant was one of two female students in her audio engineering school. Now, she is continuing her education at Girls Make Beats, with Miranda as her mentor.
“I’ve learned to really be strong and stand flat on my feet, and just be like, you know what, I can do this, too,” said Bryant. “There’s another woman who’s been in this industry, who has gone through certain things in this world, with this industry.”
Bryant says Miranda’s self-reliance inspires her.
“You can have yourself, you can have your education, you can know what you’re doing,” said Bryant. “You don’t have to depend on anybody.”
Miranda says Bryant reminds her of a younger version of herself.
“Being a recording artist and wanting to be able to have more creative control of your projects, and taking the initiative to go to school, to be in an environment where it’s mostly men and you’re the only girl,” she said. “I know what that feels like. That was the story of my life, so I definitely related to her right away.”
With financial backing from the Knight Foundation, more than 80 girls, ages 8-17 have participated in the program, which teaches them to work together, rather than compete with each other. There is a big focus on giving back to the community. The girls DJ at community events and charities.
Bryant is already teaching as well, and wants to pass on the attitude and determination she has learned from Tiffany to her students.
“I want to teach them to always be strong and confident in whatever industry you go into, and that you can do it, no matter what it is, what kind of goal it is, you can do it,” she said. “Have that knowledge behind you. Really study your books, really stay focused with what you’re doing. Don’t let outside things distract you.”
Miranda continues to make beats, but also relationships, and she hopes careers.
“A lot of people are under the mentality that if you’re not Beyonce or JLo, it’s impossible for you to help others, because you just have to help yourself at that point,” she said. “Nothing could be further from the truth. You don’t need money. You don’t need a certain stature to help the next person, even with knowledge with something that you know, that might help them in the future.”
For more on Girls Make Beats, visit http://www.girlsmakebeats.org.
For more on Ali Cultural Arts, visit http://aliarts.org.
For more on the Knight Foundation, visit https://knightfoundation.org.
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