Jayla Johnson loves hanging out in the game room at the Boys and Girls Club after school. But between games of pool and air hockey, she thinks about being a singer. Citing Nicki Minaj and Lady Antebellum as some of her favorites, the young girl said she likes to sing and rap.
"I don't really rap in front of people." Johnson said while hiding her face in her hands.
She would not give us a concert, but you can see big things from her in the future. She wants to keep up on her love of music at The Brennan Rock and Roll Academy. Located on West 11th Street, the state of the art music facility will give kids the opportunity to learn how to play instruments like the drums, guitar, bass and, of course, learn how to sing.
"It makes them feel happy when they are sad. You just listen to a few tunes and it makes you feel better," Johnson said, noting the importance of music.
However, as of now, the Boys and Girls Club does not have a music program of any sort. Brennan and his wife, Mary, donate hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to various children's charities. They got the idea from his son, Jett, who attends the "School of Rock" in Las Vegas. Inspiration also comes from Brennan's friend, whom you may have heard of, Alice Cooper, who has a similar program in Phoenix called the Solid Rock Foundation. He hopes the Rock Academy will be just as successful in Sioux Falls.
"And when they get to a certain level, they can start with nothing; they don't have to have any experience at all. When they get to a certain level, they can join a band," Brennan said.
Schools of Rock are all over the country, and even though they put music education to the forefront of learning, they can be quite expensive. The $25 membership fee Boys and Girls Club members pay will let them rock and roll at this academy. There will also be hourly shuttle busses that will take the kids from the club's main site to the music haven. Brennan has already donated $100,000 and will give about $3 million more to pay for the Brennan Rock and Roll Academy for the next 20 years. A majority owner of Dollar Loan Center, and on his 14th business, he is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also hung out at the Boys and Girls Club when he was a kid.
"These organizations really help out and any of these things that these kids can get into instead of sitting around being bored and just trying to come up with something unproductive," Brennan said.
Even as a kid, he felt a strong connection to music. It is a theme that remains constant with kids who are there today.
"Music is like how I express myself. It's just how I get things out when I'm happy," Shaheem Rhodes said.
The Academy should be open this spring. The building is already up, but there will need to be some work.
A "Ground Rocking Event" will happen on Wednesday, October 10, at 4 p.m. at 900 W 11th Street. Brennan is also working on this with Kory Van Sickle of Kory and the Fireflies. Plus, you will also see a national rock legend help out. Brennan said Alice Cooper will be at Wednesday's event.