CEC students rock out with popular Georgia band

Melanie Ruberti / The Newnan Times-Herald

Doug Kees, left, and Michelle Malone jam out on stage inside the Central Educational Center. Kees teaches part time at the school and is a full-time member of the Michelle Malone band. The duo sang and answered questions on Wednesday from students.

It was lights, camera, action inside a studio at the Central Educational Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. 

Students in CEC’s recording and TV production classes got the chance to chat with singer/songwriter Michelle Malone and her guitarist Doug Kees, who also teaches part-time at the school.

After a formal interview with CEC CEO Mark Whitlock, the duo jumped on stage with their guitars to play one of the more popular songs off Malone’s latest album, “Slings and Arrows.” Kees played guitar on the album as well.

Malone and Kees spent most of the time fielding questions from the students and encouraging them to follow their dreams – whether that’s down a musical path or not.

“I wanted to let them know that we were once in their shoes,” Malone said. “We’re here to give them advice. If they really want to be in the music industry, they need to find mentors.

“I wanted the kids to see someone who started at their age and was still making music,” she continued. “I feel grateful to still be doing this, to go to schools and show students they can do it, too. I took music classes in school – and it probably saved my life. It gave me confidence.”

Malone said she was 11 years old when she first picked up a guitar. But she didn’t realize her true passion in music until she was in college.

“There’s an allure to it,” Malone said about music. “I love it so much, it still has this feeling of ‘romance’ to it.”

But Malone and Kees have both experienced the “ugly” side of the music industry – and shared that with the students as well.

“The so-called ‘money model’ is gone now,” Kees said. “Some may become famous, but not many musicians will become rich and famous.”

“I kept impressing upon the kids the only way to make it in this business is to get out and play. Do as many shows as you can. That’s how you’ll survive the industry,” Malone added.

“Ask yourself, are you making a contribution to society and to your community? That will take you a long way in this profession too,” she said.

Thursday’s visit with CEC students was a short-lived break for Malone and Kees.

The Michelle Malone Band will continue to tour around the United States until December, when they’ll switch over to their holiday-themed band titled “Michelle Malone and the Hot Toddies.”

The group has already created a Christmas album and will play live shows through the new year.

In January, the Michelle Malone band will board the Southern Rock Cruise and set sail on the high seas with some popular bands and musicians.

Malone was recently nominated for five Creative Loafing awards.

The band will learn Dec. 5 if they are nominated for two Grammy Awards, according to grammy.com.

Kees said the entire album was submitted under the Contemporary Blues category and the song “Just Getting Started” was submitted under the American Roots category.

The 61st annual Grammy award show will take place in Los Angeles on Feb. 10, 2019.

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