The goal of the Rhapsody Project is to strengthen communities through song and spread the gospel of folk and blues music. Rhapsody is the integration of performance and teaching through public events and school workshops designed to facilitate cross-generational, cross-cultural interactions through the medium of music. We want regular folks–especially the youth–to understand that America’s folk and blues music is not a relic, but a thriving tradition. It’s not only about the fantastical, deeply mysterious recordings that we can all hear now on records or online. Music is a playground for the imagination with no barriers to entry.
Even if you don’t have a voice to sing with, you can drum out rhythm with your limbs to talk about your sorrow, tell your story, and drive your blues away. We’re trying to bring back something that has almost been lost. That is the understanding that you are not a spectator watching the tradition, you are a participant who can grow and expand the tradition. We are working towards the day when every student has their instrument of choice available to them. They are in touch with the musicians in their neighborhood, and they are afforded regular opportunities during which they can study, jam, and perform with those musicians.
The various dimensions of the Rhapsody Project all share a common goal. We aim to inspire homemade music making while we spark or spur young folks’ curiosity about their culture and its history.
At the end of each program, we give the students a chance to ask questions, and then talk to us individually after the program concludes:
Our workshops and residencies take many shapes. We partnered with Powerful Schools in 2016 to deliver a week-long songwriting residency at multiple grade schools in our South Seattle neighborhood. At the end of the week, we performed many of the student’s lyrics for them in various styles: ballads, rags, and blues. One of the students’ original blues songs garnered a powerful reaction: