KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - It's a first for Hawaii's music scene.
Do you ever wonder where Obama's stimulus money went? Besides building roads and bridges, more than $1 million has poured into Hawaii's music education.
In tough times, arts and entertainment are usually a low priority.
That's not the case for Hawaii's recording scene, and leading the way, is Honolulu Community College.
Justin Bieber and Kanye West are just two of the big stars who've recorded in Hawaii.
Locally, there's plenty of talent that hasn't quite been discovered, at least not yet.
"It's an exciting time for all of us here at Honolulu Community College," said Michael Rota, HCC Chancellor.
At the grand opening of the HCC's MELE Studios on Friday, was another big name - the longtime songwriter/producer Mike Curb, who has more than 300 number one records to his credit.
"Everybody knows there's not enough public funds to go around for all the things that everyone wants and so it's time for the private sector to step up and that's what this program is all about," said Curb.
Curb's record label represents artists like The Righteous Brothers, Tim McGraw, and LeAnn Rimes.
Now, he sees so much potential in Hawaii's music scene, Curb has gifted money into helping with the final phase of this - 2800 square feet of pure, creative bliss.
The state-of-the art recording studio is now named after him.
HCC says it features the only professional sound board of its kind in Hawaii.
It's a hands-on experience for students, who know they run the risk of becoming the proverbial 'starving musician'.
"In all honesty, I'm kind of also going at it a little bit in blind faith, but with blind faith, if it's backed up by straight up knowledge, especially in this industry, then you can go places," said Glenn Molina, a MELE student.
The MELE Program is the only one in the state where students can get Associate of Science degrees in Audio Engineering and/or Music Business.
"We started our first experimental class in 2007 with about 17 students and this Fall 2010 we have over five sessions of classes and over 100 students enrolled in all our classes," said Keala Chock, MELE Program Director.
The ultimate goal is to elevate Hawaii right next to major hubs like Chicago, New York, and L.A., and the future looks promising.
"You know 20 years ago, Seattle was the big music scene in the 1990's. I feel like this decade, it's Hawaii's turn," said Molina.
It took more than $3 million federal, state, and private dollars to launch the MELE Program.
MELE stands for Music and Entertainment Learning Experience.
The first graduating class will walk in Spring.