Even though her mom lives in Wisconsin and her father is in prison, 16-year-old Imani Robinson easily filled a rehearsal room at Bowie State University with joyful sounds of inspiration as award-winning pianist and choir director Emory Andrews softly tapped on ivory keys in the background.

“Sometimes you have to encourage yourself. Sometimes you have to speak victory during the test,” sang Robinson. “No matter how you feel, just speak the words and you will be healed. Speak boldly over yourself! Encourage yourself in the Lord!”

As Robinson sang, other students worked on their projects during the last day of a one week summer camp that was created to connect some of the most talented students in the region with artistic professionals regardless of their economic or social background.

“This is about giving opportunities for children to have access to the best in terms of music and facilities,” said Toni Lewis, founder of the Foundation for the Advancement of Music & Education, better known as FAME. “A lot of these children don’t get opportunities in their schools because music has been cancelled or in other cases they don’t have the necessary equipment.”

In addition to being exposed to professionals like Andrews, campers also learn about music theory and vocals as well as the business and technical sides of a musical production. Sessions 1 and 2 were held at Bowie State, and sessions 3 and 4 will be held at the University of Maryland School of Music from July 7-11 and July 14-18.

Bowie State Assistant Professor Gilbert Pryor has been the coordinator for the summer program at Bowie, which is called “Beats, Books and Hooks,” and according to Pryor, “in the three years that the programs has been in existence, I have seen some wonderful kids from our area schools who come here and grow.”

Robinson, who is being raised by her grandparents in Northeast Washington, said one thing that she has learned from being in this camp is seizing the moment, and to “take advantage of the opportunities that you will be receiving, because you will not always get second chances.”