Mason Music Foundation empowering students, reviving Woodlawn Theatre

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Guitar is just one of the instruments you can learn to play at Mason Music. Photo via Mason Music

Listen up, Birmingham! There’s a new community-based music program headed to Woodlawn. Thanks to the owner of Mason Music, the former Woodlawn Theatre space is getting a new lease on life. Read on to find out more.

Mason Music: the Background

Will Mason, owner of Mason Music and CEO of the Mason Music Foundation. Photo via Bham Now

Will Mason, owner of Mason Music, started playing the piano when he was just six years old. He later switched to guitar and played in a few bands, including Birmingham rock band Moses Mayfield. In 2012, he started Mason Music, which teaches a number of musical skills to kids and adults across Birmingham, including piano, voice, violin, guitar and drums.

Will is also the CEO of Mason Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides music lessons to low income individuals and those with developmental disabilities. Through its work, the foundation is able to break down barriers to private music lessons through scholarships. Private donations, public grants and other fundraising efforts make these scholarships possible. Learn more or donate

Playing the piano at recital. Photo via Mason Music 

“Music is a great medium for connecting with kids and giving them a step up in life. Sitting across the room from someone who tells them they believe in them and ‘you can do it if you try’ may be lacking in some kids’ lives—regardless of income level—and all kids need to hear that.”

Will Mason

New Space, New Opportunity

The future home of the Mason Music Foundation and Woodlawn Theatre. Photo via Bham Now

Mason Music Foundation recently announced their move to the former Woodlawn Theatre space at 5503 1st Avenue North. The foundation will occupy part of the space, while the other will serve as a 250-person live music venue. Will hopes the venue will fill the void left by the Bottletree (never forget!) in Birmingham. In addition to live shows, there will also be weddings and corporate and community events in the space.

The Woodlawn Theatre in its former glory. The site was a movie theatre from 1929 to 1957. Photo via Birmingham Public Library Archives

The project is one of the first Opportunity Zone deals in our state. What’s an Opportunity Zone, you ask? It’s a program that allows investors to offset capital gains taxes by reinvesting in previously overlooked areas. Mason said the project would not have been possible without the support of REV Birmingham and Opportunity Alabama.

A Chance for Birmingham Locals to Come Together

We’re excited to see the space restored! Photo via Bham Now

Will said he hopes the project will bring people from across the Birmingham area together. 

“One of the drivers behind this project is bringing unity to Birmingham. How cool is it that we can have events to pull people from different backgrounds and enjoy something as amazing as music together?”

Will Mason

That’s certainly music to our ears. We can’t wait to see the new building when it’s open!

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Taylor Babington
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