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As Art All Night came to a close earlier this spring, the question everyone was asking was, did you hear that kid band?

That band is the Swag Monkeys and they were recently chosen by WYEP for their 2014 Reimagine Media Project although none of them were the required age of 13 at the time of the competition.

The band creating such a buzz is comprised of Philippa Zang, Winston Bell, Henry Schultz and Desmond Rucker.

Henry Schultz, age 12, plays the keyboard and attends CAPA Middle School with Philippa and Desmond. He began fiddling around on his family piano years ago and likes the idea of inspiring others to play music.

Winston Bell at age 11 is the youngest member of The Swag Monkeys and plays bass and alto saxophone. He is finishing up sixth grade at Pittsburgh Obama and his father is famed jazz drummer Poogie Bell, who played with Chaka Khan and Marcus Miller.

The older Bell introduced his son to John Coltrane, but the younger Bell is drawn to Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Winston likes performing because it gives him a chance to express his feelings. “For me, music is like colors and I get express what colors I feel on the inside,” he said.

The drummer Desmond Rucker, age 13, is the oldest member of the band and was inspired by The Beatles to become a musician. He, Henry and Winston first played music together at Pittsburgh Dilworth. All the boys credit the public elementary school for supporting their love of music and helping them develop their talent.

Phillipa, age 12, joined the band in April and began writing lyrics to accompany the boy’s songs. She plays the ukulele on their song “Much Too Figurative”, guitar on “Accelerate” and raps to “Peacetrumental.”

She and other others embrace diversity with their music because they are drawn to so many different genres. Philippa believes their music appeals to all ages. “We all play for whoever wants to hear our music,” she said. “I think younger audiences might connect more with some of the stuff that we are saying and what we are playing because we are the same ages as them. But I also think a lot of adults think it is kind of cool that younger people are in the band.”

In addition to performing at the Art All Night and the International Children’s Festival earlier this spring, the hot band just played at the Dollar BankThree Rivers Arts Festival where they created more buzz.

Catch them next at FarmJammaLamma on the Fourth of July weekend in Brookville, PA.

Martha Rial

Martha Rial is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who is committed to documenting social justice and finding stories that will inspire others.