NEW ORLEANS (press release) – New Orleans’ Emmy-nominated inspirational rapper, Dee-1, isn’t your typical technologist. Despite the laptops, synthesizers, and drum machines he utilizes to perfect his skills, his use of music technology is rarely taught in school STEM curriculums. 

Nevertheless, within the music technology field – which includes high-paying jobs in audio engineering and music producing – are a few of the IT principles used by a generation of New Orleans musicians and artists like Dee-1 that the upcoming Tech2Talent Career Festival hopes to showcase. 

The rapper, along with New Orleans natives DJ Polo and artist/muralist Kentrice Schexnayder, was recently tapped by nonprofit LifeSkills Foundation to showcase tech as art at the career festival set for Saturday April 9, at the Mel Ott Center in Gretna, La. In addition to music tech, the event will showcase IT careers, including gaming, digital art, drones, coding, and cybersecurity. Dee-1 is the festival’s featured speaker for the Inspiring Our Youth (IOY) series. During his presentation, the 2021 Governor John Bel Edwards’ appointee to the Louisiana Council for the Success of Black Men and Boys will encourage youth never to be afraid to go after their dreams.  

“We believe that innovation and creativity are the same,” said Michelle Jackson, event organizer and executive director of LifeSkills. “By meeting young people where they are and using their love for technology – smartphones, social media, gaming, and music streaming – to help them build a genuine interest in the field, we can nurture a generation of tech leaders. Dee-1, Kentrice, and DJ Polo are good examples of the music, innovation, and creativity the city is known for. We want to celebrate them and show how technology is used in their creative space.”

The festival will showcase over 20 interactive exhibitors, including DXC Technology, LSU, Delgado Community College, Nunez Community College, Operation Spark, Zephyr Drone, Microsoft TEALS Program, and Tulane University. There will also be a job fair, a speaker series, live mural drawing by Schexnayder, live interviews hosted by Be Loud Studios, video game competitions, food, prizes, and music by DJ Polo.

The event is free to attend with pre-event registration on Eventbrite. The day will start at 12:30 PM with the opening of the exhibit showcase. The speaker series will kick off at 1 PM with 30-minute sessions hosted by Kelvin Gipson, Director of Delgado Workforce IT, Marc Aubanel, Director of LSU Digital Arts & Engineering, DXC Technology, Scientist Treva T. Brown, and Blacks In Technology (BIT). Also, guests can participate in video game competitions, enjoy local food trucks, and watch drone demonstrations by Zephyr Drones. The first 100 guests will receive free food vouchers and swag bags. Dee-1 will speak in the exhibit hall starting at 1:45 PM. 

LifeSkills Foundation is a recipient of the Louisiana Nonprofit & Small Business grant, which was designed to assist in administering COVID-19 response and relief efforts.  

Tech2Talent will take place at the Mel Ott Center located at 2301 Belle Chasse Highway, Gretna, La. Guests are asked to preregister at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tech2talent-career-festival-tickets-250074699157. For more information, contact Michelle Jackson at events@prsolutionsllc.org.