Draylen Mason was only 17, but he was already a talented musician and a leader to those aspiring to play just like him. He was accepted into the selective Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin, and participated in Austin Soundwaves, a musical education program he started playing with in middle school.

“We recognized right away that he had immense musical abilities,” said Patrick Slevin, one of Mason’s mentors and the CEO of The Hispanic Alliance which runs Soundwaves. “But with Draylen, it was so much more than that. He was a true leader and mentor to the other kids. He was always a friend first and looked out for others. He raised the bar for all of us, as musicians and as people.” 

That’s part of the reason why the nonprofit Hispanic Alliance created the Draylen Mason Fellows Program — which will give high school musicians a chance to further their musical development. As many as five students each year will have access to private instruction, summer retreats and up to $2,000.

They will work together on a capstone project that will “work together throughout the year on a capstone performance project that will use art as a means to bridge divides in their community and address a pressing social or political issue that is meaningful to the group,” according to a release.

Mason was killed March 12 after opening a package bomb left on the doorstep of his home. His mom was hurt in the blast. A YouCaring.com page is raising money for the family, and despite an initial goal of $25,000 it now has more than $141,000. People can also donate online to support the Draylen Mason Fellows Program. 

“Music changed Draylen’s life,” Slevin said, “and I think he would want to see us share that gift with as many students as possible.” 

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