Performers sing the night away at Youth Mic Night

On March 15, the doors of Jeannette Airen Performing Arts Studio opened for Gaby Montiel’s “Youth Mic Night,” a night filled with 26 various acts of creative expression from singers and songwriters.

Gaby Montiel, a freshman at Thousand Oaks High School, took charge in planning and organizing the event herself, after being invited to sing at a small business called The Cat and Raven Collective. The event sparked Montiel’s interest in creating her own venue for the community, specifically for young performers like herself. Now over a year old, Montiel’s “mic nights” have drawn in youth from around the county. “Now it’s like an actual…almost concert,” Montiel said.

With the intimate audience setting, performers feel comfortable with the community around them, which has inspired them to perform songs that they love. Arnold Carillo, 15, sang three songs throughout the night, each varying in style. He has been singing since he was two and enjoys performing and writing his own songs. “Being a songwriter and a cover singer is really the best experience anyone could ever [experience],” Carillo said.

The event was also an opportunity for Sterling Godly, 15, to experiment with song genres and instruments. She played a variety of songs, including “Norwegian Wood,” which Godly played on the mandolin. “I definitely was inspired to try to do an instrument this time, and I’ve also always loved that song. It was my mother’s favorite song for a while,” Godly said.

“Youth Mic Night” happens once every month at various venues across Conejo Valley, inspiring new singers and creative talents to perform for an audience. Montiel’s goal is to foster a safe space for all young performers, and her work has paid off. “I’ve met a lot of people through this event and I’ve seen their progress in only a few months and it’s really cool to kind of see these people improve a lot,” Montiel said.

The group of performers for “Youth Mic Night” was larger and more diverse than ever this month, each performer expressing themselves through different songs, instruments and lyrics.

“I honestly just love this medium for art. I really connect to music. So personally I just want to keep writing and keep providing experiences for people,” Montiel said.