Riley Smith returns to Cedar Rapids to mentor youth

(KCRG)
Published: Jul. 14, 2017 at 7:11 AM CDT
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Students with the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy are showing off their hours of preparation for the second Riley Smith Youth Festival in NewBo this Saturday.

Smith is an Alburnett graduate with a long list of credits, acting in movies like Bring it On and T.V. shows like True Blood and Nashville.

He came into town early this week to help mentor these students before the music festival and TV9 got a special look at one of their music sessions.

If you listen closely through the walls of the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

You can hear the stroke of a key or powerful vocals filling the air.

You may be surprised to find out it's coming from this talented group of young people, teenagers and even younger.

On Tuesday, we watched what happened when Riley Smith stopped by the academy and greeted 15-year-old Isabella Koch.

“It's nice to meet you, beautiful playing,” says Smith.

Riley Smith is an actor and country singer originally from Cedar Rapids and he's helping these students warm up for this weekend's Youth Music Festival.

And this week he gave students some "sound" advice before they hit the stage on Saturday.

He gave me a lot of ideas about like using different word choices and like speeding up my music when I'm practicing,” says Isabelle Koch, a student at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

Smith travels all over the world helping kids, but this event impacts the Cedar Rapids native on a more personal level.

“When it’s your own community it means so much more and hopefully for me I hope it means more to them that someone from their area is you know hopefully a role model to them that it's possible to go on and do more with the music,” says Smith.

Now he's giving young musicians like Isabella the confidence they need for Saturday's big concert.

"It's my first time playing in the concert so I’m really excited I really don't know what to expect but everybody in my bands that I've been in here have been in it and they've been telling me that it's a lot of fun,” she says.

Tomorrow's concert will also feature other singing groups from Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, and other surrounding areas.

The money raised form the concert is donated to students at the Eastern Iowa Arts Academy.

The music festival begins July 15, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.