Michael & Brenda are both very active in supporting their community at large in a variety of ways.
The Young Artist Performance Incubator (YAPI or Facebook) was created by Brenda Freed who wanted to provide performance opportunities for youth in the Wimberley, TX community. YAPI was an open mic for age 19 and under which took place the first Thursday of every month, August-May from February 2003 – December of 2013. YAPI provided a safe environment that nurtured many young performers to grow from shyly approaching the YAPI stage and singing part of a cover song to performing their original material on the stages of other venues.
Brenda hosted almost 100 YAPI events in Wimberley, showcasing 600 acts performed by about 215 different individual performers. YAPI performers came from all over the Texas Hill Country including Wimberley, Dripping Springs, Austin, San Marcos, Spring Branch, Kyle, West Lake, Johnson City, Blanco and as far away as Boerne.
A number of Texas Hill Country youth have launched their public performance careers from the YAPI stage. “YAPI open mic night provided me with the opportunity to perform for a receptive audience, which was crucial to my development as a musician,” said Sahara Smith, singer/songwriter, runner-up in Garrison Keillor’s 2004 Prairie Home Companion Young Artist Competition, 2007 Austin City Limits Festival performer, 2008 Kerrville Folk Festival performer and 2010 performer on David Letterman Show.
YAPI continues to provide a supportive environment for youth at the Kerrville Folk Festival where Brenda has hosted the open mic for 18 and under for the campground youth on the Threadgill Stage since 2013.
Youth Taking Charge
2005-2010 Brenda was on the Board of a non-profit called Youth Taking Charge which coordinated and implemented two summer camps during that time. The first was a week-long residential camp for at-risk Austin, TX youth in 2005 which offered classes in music, art, self-defense and developing entrepreneurial and job skills training. The second was a summer-long day camp in Wimberley, TX which provided an assortment of recreational, art, music, educational and self-awareness activities for local youth with full-time working parents. Brenda has a MA degree in Music Education/Music Therapy so she was responsible for all the music-related activities at both camps.
Michael feels fortunate that his success in business has allowed him to give back to the music community and to the Texas Hill Country. In partnership with many fellow employees and friends over the years, Michael’s focus has been to provide food, shelter and education to those unable to provide fully for themselves. His work, alongside his wife Brenda, has included supporting KLRU public television, the Capital Area Food Bank; God’s Family Dinner at Austin’s University Baptist Church; the Austin KIPP college prep schools, and Lifeworks. The couple also supports many other organizations that improve the life of the less fortunate, and that help humanity reduce unneeded damage to animal life and to the planet as a whole.
In the musical community, since 2013 Michael has served on the board of the Society for the Preservation and Advancement of the Harmonica (SPAH), a 501(c)3 Non-Profit founded in 1963. Having met many of the SPAH leadership over the years as world class teachers, players and at the annual SPAH Convention, he was honored to accept an invitation from to join the team. He now serves as its President.
Starting in 2005 Michael also spent 8 years on the board of the Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation (formerly, the Texas Folk Music Foundation), a 501(c)3 Non-Profit, working in partnership with the Kerrville Folk Festival. Starting in 2009, Michael was chosen to run the organization as Chairman where he led the acquisition of the world-renowned Kerrville Folk Festival, bringing the Festival into Non-Profit status. “Kerrville”, as it is known, was founded in 1972, is the longest-running festival of its kind in the world, and is considered one of the world’s premier events.
Michael also served on the board of the Harmonica Organization of Texas (HOOT), Austin from 2002 to 2005.