Shirley takes the path from Skid Row to composing music in Newark

NEWARK – Some careers take a different path.

“All I wanted to do was play music,” began Ben Shirley, “so I wasn’t exactly an overachiever in high school. Decades later, after having destroyed my life due to alcohol and drug addiction, I returned to school. Supported by the incredible people at the Midnight Mission, a homeless shelter in Los Angeles’ notorious Skid Row where I wound up broke, dope-sick, and homeless in 2011, I enrolled at Los Angeles City College. I became a straight A student and earned a certificate in music technology.”

“Several years later,” he continued, “I applied to the prestigious San Francisco Conservatory of Music and was accepted, with a partial scholarship. I was in the inaugural class of the Technology & Applied Composition Program.”

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