It will be quite the experience: Giving youth back their intellectual power.
That’s the impression Shyan Selah wants to impart on those who attend his namesake event — the Shyan Selah Experience.
He wants to encourage youth in their ambitions and intellect, beyond the mere physical attributes that come with being young.
This is something Selah has struggled with in the past.
The Federal Way native played sports most of his younger life.
“Growing up, I loved being an athlete,” he said, noting he participated in basketball, track and football.
So when he blew out his knee while playing football, he was devastated. So much of his identity seemed to be built on his physical capabilities in sports that when he lost the ability to continue playing, it threw Selah into a “mental and emotional no-man’s land.”
Now looking back on it, he thinks it is both the worst, but also the best thing to happen to him, which might have saved his life.
“That injury let me know… I had a mind I could use that was more powerful than my body.”
So he started working towards helping other local youth realize the same thing.
“You can have ambition and also be practical,” he said.
The Shyan Selah Experience in Federal Way is the first time Selah is putting on an event like this.
Doors will open at 6 p.m., and the concert itself starts at the Performing Arts and Events Center at 7 p.m. Oct. 12, with a college and career fair in the PAEC lobby from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
There will also be two concerts as part of the event, he said. The first one will be more youth-centric starting at 12:30 p.m., with the second one for Selah’s adult fanbase starting at 7:30 p.m.
The two concerts are the same, but since he has a fanbase of both adults and youth, Selah thought it would be smart to create two concerts for the event.
He wanted to have a college and career fair as part of the experience as a way to share different opportunities and career path options with local youth they may not have thought about before.
He wanted to emphasize social media and the digital communications field that pertains to the direction life is moving in.
“I wanted to create a project that pertains to what is happening in life and the community.”
Selah said before at similar, albeit smaller-scale events he has organized, he was surprised at the information that would come out that was largely unknown to the general public. For example, at collaborative events he’s done with Starbucks and Pacific Lutheran University, things like diversity programs and scholarships came up that many youth weren’t otherwise aware of.
“We wanted to share those resources.”
He sees this event as a way to blend his two passions of singing/songwriting and youth outreach to create a powerful visual message. He will be performing song selections from the project he’s developed with Starbucks, called the Cafe Noir project. It’s a series of songs fused with hip-hop, soul, blues, R&B, and rock.
It’s meant to be a family-friendly project with a lot of community driven content.
“I’m excited to share the project, it’s a big part of what I’ve been doing the last couple years.”
Selah said it was critical to be able to work out using the PAEC space for his performance as a way to blend together his home life from Federal Way and the work he’s been doing with his song writing.
“I love my city,” Selah said. “That’s really what this is all about.”
He said Cafe Noir has allowed him to focus more closely on his community and take his outreach to new levels.
“Federal Way is not historically known … so it was just awesome that I was able to create some synergy with the city and representatives of the PAEC,” he said.
There are several sponsors for this event, including Washington State University, the University of Washington, Eastern Washington University, Seattle Central College, Highline College, the Washington Education Association, Scholarship Junkies, Communities in Schools, the United States Army, Port of Seattle, Barnes & Noble, Alaska Airlines, Boeing, King County, KEXP and Macy’s.
The Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners are also giving away special prizes at the event.
Selah started his high school career at Decatur, moving to Federal Way High School where he graduated in 1993. After graduation, he got a scholarship to play football at Eastern Washington University and transferred to Central Washington University, where he was later inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame.
For more information, visit fwpaec.org/event/the-shyan-selah-experience.