This semester, Northeastern students Felisha Cabral and Sanah RoyChowdhury have embraced the opportunity of a lifetime to work directly with The Suffers, a gulf coast soul band from Houston, Texas. Felisha and Sanah, who are singers/songwriters themselves, have been gaining first-hand experience in all of the moving parts that go into supporting and promoting musicians. They have been helping the band innovate, stay organized, and expand their audience using tools like social media, branding, and direct outreach to college students.
“We are doing anything we can to benefit the band within our six months with them,” Felisha and Sanah, both Music Industry and Communications combined majors, explained. “We are thinking outside the box, bringing a college perspective, and helping connect them to Northeastern.”
The internship, which has been appropriately termed “The Suffers Project” and has been completely remote, includes partnering with Northeastern to integrate The Suffers’ work into the curriculum. This has allowed for The Suffers to raise awareness about their music while also opening up more hands-on learning experiences for the students.
“A large part of our job is to make the band marketable and profitable to our demographic,” Sanah added. “The band is starting to get more and more popular with college kids, so we are helping build that momentum.”
In faculty member David McWane’s Music Industry Marketing and Promotion class, students are working on a merchandise project for The Suffers. They will brainstorm new ideas for the band’s merch, which is already known for being unique; the band’s manager, from MidCitizen Entertainment, will then review the proposals first-hand. In Professor Francesca Inglese’s Music & the Racial Imagination class, The Suffers’ lead singer Kam Franklin, award-winning singer/songwriter, spoke to students directly – talking about her experience, her career, and her passions.
“One of Kam’s missions is to help younger musicians develop themselves, and she is always looking to find the next young artist,” said Felisha.
She has such an amazing eye for talent, and is interested in helping to amplify the voices that aren’t being heard.
Kam recently curated The Kam Franklin and Friends virtual rally and concert, at which both Felisha (who performs as Eph See) and Sanah (who performs as Sanah Roy) had the opportunity to be in the line-up. The digital festival worked to highlight and celebrate southern music, poetry, and the importance of voting. The event was sponsored by HeadCount.org, an organization that promotes voter registration and participation in democracy through the power of music, and allowed festival viewers to check their voting status and polling location in between sets.
“The rally and concert are additional examples of how Kam is using her platform to uplift smaller artists, and to encourage others to embrace activism,” said Felisha.
In addition to the marketing, branding, and general music management experience – including helping launch the band’s Patreon account, starting focus groups, and jumping into one of the band calls – the internship has been a learning experience in how to be adaptable and dynamic.
“With the pandemic, the band’s schedule is up in the air, unpredictable, and out of whack in the best way possible,” Sanah explained. “This has been a great chance to learn about working quickly on the spot and adapting to situations you did not expect.
That is reflective of what the music industry is truly like; it’s what we live for as creatives!
“Working directly with The Suffers has been an Invaluable experience,” Felisha added. “It doesn’t get any more authentic and real-world than this.”
The internship was made possible through the help of Craig Bettinson, Director of Cooperative Education, who has supported many students with landing co-ops during these challenging and uncertain times brought about by the pandemic.
“Northeastern helps students get into spaces they normally wouldn’t have access to,” Felisha and Sanah concluded. ““The internship worked out better than we could have imagined.”
For their next project with The Suffers, Felisha and Sanah are working on a Remix Competition, which involves giving The Suffers’ latest single to students at Northeastern to remix; the winner of the competition will get their remix released in collaboration with the Suffers as a single. Open to all Northeastern students who are interested in making music, the competition is a valuable opportunity for both the students and the band. The song that students will be remixing is meant to inspire positivity, and addresses some of the frustrations of COVID-19. To learn more about the competition, click here.