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City Sound bangs the drums loudly for inner-city youth


City Sound Drum and Bugle Corps is an inner-city youth program that uses performing arts as a means to attract and teach at-risk teens discipline, self-respect, and patriotism. Through the program, youth members are able to achieve their personal goals and further their education. City Sound members come from diverse segments of the Los Angeles population.

Its program is based on discipline, performing arts education, and personal-growth activities and has been recognized by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Beyond the Bell Branch Arts programs for its mentoring, celebration of diversity and community involvement.

With racial tensions growing in the Los Angeles inner city among the African American and Latino populations, City Sound’s program brings the community together by not only involving the youth but also parents, grandparents and other extended family members.

Nathaniel Lewis Jr. created City Sound Drum and Bugle Corps 14 years ago on June 14, 1997. The City Sound goal was to create an organization that would give teens and young adults in diverse cultures true life experiences and belief in themselves, and create an opportunity to develop to their fullest potential musically. The program personally assists each member in developing their skills and desire to participate in the performing arts to a degree they may have never imagined.

“City Sound’s primary goal is to make available performing arts opportunities not found in many California Schools,” said Lewis. “Within our organization to believe in yourself, hope of possibilities, and prayers within our diverse community, are some of the keys used to steer our kids away from street violence, and provide them with an excellent performing arts education, and to create a place of refuge from the everyday problems that our young adults face.”

City Sound has grown in popularity over the years and members have performed throughout the state and nation. In 2001, when the program only consisted of one drum line, they were invited to perform at the New York Open Drum and Bugle Corps show. Over the years, many youth from City Sound have gone on to perform with some of the best college and performing arts groups in the United States. Others have grown to be productive members of their communities and have attributed much of their success to the work ethics and morals they learned while in City Sound.

“With the help of the Los Angeles Youth Arts Organization, City Sound can and will provide performing arts opportunities not found in all communities throughout the Los Angeles area,” said Lewis. “We pride ourselves in the ability to take these kids, their hope and pay it forward.”

Lewis believes City Sound is the finest performing arts education available anywhere. Although competitive in nature, the activities that the students participate in are primarily a part of the overall learning experience. Emphasis is placed on self-motivation and geared toward individual achievement of common goals. “It is an education designed to help members become the best they can be. It can be the education of a lifetime,” he said.

Because City Sound is a nonprofit organization, it depends on the added support of donors and other assistance from the community. If individuals are interested, the organization is always looking for help with monetary donations, grant writing and solicitation of funds from charitable sources. It also needs assistance with sewing and fitting uniforms, prop-building and organizing of equipment, physical fitness training for members, music and dance choreography and training.

For more information on the City Sound, including videos of the latest performances and schedules of upcoming events, visit its website at