Playground Studios

by Terry Watson | May 5th, 2011
Chaka Harley

Chaka Harley (Photo by: Maritza Baird Campbell)

Chaka Harley describes himself as a multi-talented creative professional and entrepreneur. He’s a music producer who also writes, composes, arranges and engineers. Totaling 20 years, he has recorded, written and performed music professionally. Still, he says music is his gift and he remains inspired by his ability to create and enjoy it. Now, he helps make Playground Studios Durham one of North Carolina’s best places to record music.

Playground Studios was founded in 2008 by Marion and Justine Wiggins, and Chaka Harley. “It’s basically a playground for musicians, artist, writers, actors and dancers,” says Harley. “We are a full service recording and production facility featuring recording studios, event space, multimedia production, and training classrooms.” On site is an industry standard Pro Tools HD2 system, a preproduction Pro Tools LE system, a sound stage with a green screen, video projectors, a multimedia studio, and a piano lab. They’ve worked with major and independent artist from gospel to hip-hop and also provides commercial services. PSD publishes and produces creative content and are currently in the process of launching three labels to begin marketing, manufacturing, and distributing content created by artist in gospel, jazz and urban genres.

The recording studios at PSD are utilized by clients on various levels, each with different demands. Whether you’re just getting started and need to develop an electronic press kit or an established artist on a label, the knowledgeable staff will help guide your project to completion by optimizing your use of time and budget. PSD offers quite a few services that cater to musicians such as, recording, mixing, mastering, graphic services, cd duplication, and professional training. Clients should expect to acquire the skills and confidence needed to compete in a highly competitive industry.

Harley says he has had his share of ups and downs, but through it all, God has impacted his life the most. “Through faith and prayer I’ve always remained an optimist, and I ’ve been blessed as a result,” says Harley. He professes that he has been blessed to have such an opportunity to work at Playground Studios everyday.

“I’ve always taken my music very seriously and out of my recording experience, I ’ve developed my talents beyond just passion and creativity and have expanded into the technical realm of music production,” says Harley. As an engineer, he’s learned all of the scientific aspects of audio engineering. This has empowered him to be able to manage a professional recording, as well as mixing and mastering. He also consults other studio owners and freelance music professionals by offering advice and technical support.

Already skilled with industry Pro Tools, Harley has recently become a Pro Tools Certified HD Operator through Pro Media Training in Stankonia Studios (Hip Hop group Outkast’s professional recording facility) in Atlanta. He started a publishing company through ASCAP to began collaborating with other artist, writers, and producers with a focus on creating content for performing artist. He has written three curriculunms on engineering that he teaches through an alliance between Playground Studios and The Old School Community Enrichment Center in Durham.

Co-owner Marion Wiggins musical roots were formed in the church scene of Durham, North Carolina. He moved over to pop music for a number of years as an instrumentalist for Diana Ross, Patti Labelle, Steve Wonder, Gladys Knight, the Staple Singers and Donald Byrd. He loves to help others move forward and uses the opportunity he was given to promote many Durham musicians. He is a versatile musician who has always considered himself primarily an instrumentalist. With his continued love for music and the desire to open doors for others, along with Justine, wife of over 30 years, they opened The Old School Community Enrichment Center & Playground Studios.

Justine Wiggins has been a blessing to the Christian community. She has helped build church musical departments, outreach ministries with prisons, retirement homes and a childrens hospital. With her powerful but
unforced vocal tones, her voice has been described as “anointed by God”. She can heard in a self published recording “People Helping People”. She began singing in church at age five in her hometown of Zebulon, North Carolina. She’s able to serve the community in a place where love and hope are felt, and inner-city youth and the special needs population can realize musical dreams and possibilities.

Playground Studios are fortunate to have some very accomplished instructors available. Andrea Moore and Dr. Josheph Mitchell both have extensive musical backgrounds in classical, gospel/christian, jazz and folk. Mitchell a (Doctor of Education in Music Education) attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Moore obtained a bachelor of Arts from North Carolina Central University and attended Baker’s School of The Performing Arts in Durham.

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