Beloved Columbus OH non-profit organization We Amplify Voices will be releasing a new compilation album featuring local middle school musicians entitled “Stay Safe: Songs From The Summer of COVID”, due out September 25th. We Amplify Voice provide workshops for these artists in order to create a safe-space for open, real, honest conversations to happen, and to turn those conversations into art.
Executive Director, and pillar of the local Columbus music community, Nick D’Andrea had this to say about how the compilation came together:
“Over the summer we adapted our programming to take place over zoom. During that time our kids were absorbing all of the raw emotions of the moment, both from COVID, and the demonstrations for social justice in response to the murder of George Floyd. What made it especially difficult, was they were each experiencing those events in relative isolation from their peers. The point of our workshops are to create a safe-space for open, real, honest conversations to happen, then to turn those conversations into art. During a relatively normal time in the world, the conversations in our workshops can cover everything from anxiety and depression, to bullying, to the death of a family member, to a parent being incarcerated.
What the kids tell us is helpful to them, is being able to share these experiences and the feelings that accompany them with peers in an environment where they don’t feel judged, and where they feel they can be their true selves. Which can lead to the realization that others are having some of the same difficulties they are, then hopefully they don’t feel so alone.
Compassion and understanding can grow from that, and our hope is that the take that with them and share it with others. In a normal year a collection of songs from our workshops are all over the place. This is the first time that everyone in all of our workshops were focused on the same issues. And I think this album shows the full range of emotions that this moment has made people feel.”
WAV (We Amplify Voices) partners middle school students with professional music producers to create radio-ready songs. Students write the lyrics for the song and guide its artistic direction. The producers collaborate with the students in order to synthesize these ideas into a professionally produced song that is broadcast on local radio and online.
Formerly The Dick & Jane Project, WAV’s mission is to empower students through songwriting. Founded as an after-school music education program by Columbus-based charter school administrator Ben Shinaberry in 2011, WAV has since provided programming in over 25 Franklin County schools, serving between 80-100 elementary and middle school students annually.
Professional local musicians, who serve as program instructors, receive training from WAV staff, and then lead students through a five-session songwriting process, culminating in a recording session at a professional studio. Participants learn writing and teamwork skills and receive professional exposure to music production. They also work with adult leaders representing the music and recording industries, providing experiential learning and insight into these fields.