January Feature: Nex Millen

“We are providing people with the knowledge they need to succeed.” – Nex Millen

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Opening the door to the Burton Street ONEmic Studio, your senses immediately heighten. Whether your gaze surveys the walls draped in the latest graffiti styles of the B-Street DJs, your fingers tap on the MIDI controllers to lay an electronic drum beat or your ears perk up to the rhythmic mixing of a turntable, the studio welcomes you to explore and engage. “Music helps us to truly live in harmony with ourselves,” Nex Millen explains.  

            Originally from Philadelphia, Nex Millen has brought 20 years of experience in the music entertainment industry to youth in the Burton Street Community of West Asheville for the past 3 years. As an accomplished Music Producer, Artist and DJ, Nex guides youth in weekly classes to strengthen their musical talents and find their musical paths while emphasizing the importance of a holistic understanding about how the music industry operates.

            In addition to their time in the studio, youth have the opportunity to present and teach others about their audio and visual art at LEAF Festival via the EMErgence Tent, an interactive electronic music experience curated by Millen. The EMErgence Tent also showcases intimate performances by youth in Visiting Teaching Artist Residencies. Fall Festival brought us a first-time performance and original music by the young men at Black Mountain Academy mentored by Millen himself. “It seemed as if they were waiting for an opportunity like this to fully express themselves musically,” Millen reflects on this proud moment as a Teaching Artist in Asheville.

            With his vast knowledge and enthusiasm for music education, Nex leads collaborations and tutorials among the 4 other LEAF ONEmic Studios located in LEAF International sites: Rwanda, Tanzania, Haiti and Costa Rica. This global network finds a home in Asheville twice a year when Nex hosts a Cultural Exchange at the Burton Street Recreation Center welcoming our visiting LEAF International programs and Visiting Teaching Artists who come to town to teach local youth their art form and perform at LEAF Festival.

            Nex has a passionate vision to expand mentorship opportunities for both youth and adults in Asheville, implementing a teen-focused program at the center this summer. You’ll also be able to catch him outside of the studio this summer during the Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Series featuring the LEAF Easel Rider and free workshops with talented LEAF Teaching Artists such as himself.

            Outside of the “office,” you’ve probably caught Nex at his many performing and DJing showcases around Asheville or supporting local up-and-coming talent while they do so. A father, a historian, a mentor and multi-faceted musician, LEAF and the Asheville community are proud to have Nex on the team.

        LEAF Schools & Streets cultural arts programming at Burton Street is made possible by the continued support of our community engaged in LEAF MemberSHIP. We extend LEAF love and gratitude to all our LEAF community and partners such as  Asheville Parks & Recreation for making our big dreams come alive: building community, connecting cultures and enriching lives through the arts – locally and globally – with festivals, community events, and arts education programs.