Category Archives: Music

A musician’s dream: Malcolm Cross and The Possibility Project

BY ADIA WHITE

“Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Listen to the interview:

Malcolm Cross moved to Los Angeles from London for a record contract he signed with his band. Thanks to the charm of the city, the opportunities, and a lovely American woman who eventually became his wife, Malcolm never ended up leaving. Since moving to L.A, Malcolm has achieved the musician’s dream. He makes a living scoring music for films, documentaries, commercials, and playing shows with his band. He’s toured across South America, Asia, Europe and the States. Still, something seemed to be missing. Malcolm explains that, “as a professional musician it can feel like it’s all about me… it can be very egocentric. Teaching is one way to give back, especially working with something like the Possibility Project.”

The Possibility Project uses performing arts education to empower youth to give back to their communities. Although the program originally started in Washington D.C. it has since spread to cities across the U.S. as well as to cape town South Africa and Tel Aviv, Israel. The goal of the program is to create engaged community leaders. Youths join the program for a one-year period during which they write and perform their own musical theater production about their lives.

Malcolm joined the organization’s L.A. chapter as the program’s musical director. He describes his role as primarily an editor. Rather than writing or composing music for the show, he helps the teens turn their own musical ideas into a reality. Malcolm noticed that the teamwork and the intensity of the creative process required to create a show allows the participants to process many of the issues they are writing about. “As much as the content of the show, I think its this feeling of, ‘we just created this company this team of people that can rely on each other, that know each other well and who have got each other’s backs,’” says Malcolm.

“Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

This past L.A. Possibility Project performance was put on by an all-foster-care cast. It was through this production that Malcolm met participant Adreanna “AJ” Patterson, co-writing the song “Shine,” which Adreanna performs in a magnificent solo. Enjoy this interview with Malcolm and AJ, and keep your eye out for the next possibility project performance near you.

Published October 3, 2013

Artist exhibit: Malcolm Cross and AJ Patterson perform “Shine”

BY ADIA WHITE

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project's "Stop Requested". Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Listen to a special performance of “Shine” just for The Lamp Project:

Adreanna Patterson’s song, “Shine,” was created under no ordinary circumstances.  The song was composed for an original musical written and performed by a cast of foster care youth.  The teens write their own stories, yet they perform each others’ instead of just sticking to their own. These shows are put on by The Possibility Project, a national non-profit dedicated to empowering youth to improve their lives and communities though preforming arts and community action.

Adreanna, who goes by AJ, first heard about The Possibility Project from her friend Jazzy, a graduate of the program. She was initially skeptical. “At first I didn’t want to do it,” she says, “because you have to do all these weird things, like act like a chicken and dance, and I was so shy back then.” Finally Adrienne joined the program, where she met the musical’s director, professional composer and musician Malcolm Cross, and her talent as a musician began to blossom.

AJ and Malcolm wrote “Shine” for her character, Sunny, a young woman who finally breaks free of an abusive relationship. Although Adreanna has never been in an abusive relationship herself, her character’s emotions are not unfamiliar to her. “I can relate to learning how to get the courage to leave a situation,” she says. “For me, being in foster care, I have been in homes that were just horrible, and I had to learn to get the courage to say, this isn’t right, I have to move out.”  The connection AJ feels to her song is apparent in the natural beauty and power her voice commands over the melody and lyrics.

Next year, Adreanna will graduate from high school with plans to attend college. She has her heart set on the Berklee School of Music for her final two years of college.  Nine out of ten foster care youth who enroll in The Possibility Project go on to graduate high school and later enroll in college. This statistic, however, is not representative of their peer group: on average, only fifty percent of youths raised in foster care nationally graduate high school. Only six percent go on to graduate from a two-year college or higher.

Rehearsal for The Possibility Project's "Stop Requested". Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Composer Malcolm Cross and cast members in rehearsal for The Possibility Project’s “Stop Requested”. Photo: Agnes May Photography.

Malcolm says he was delighted to be able to work with Adreanna. He praises her naturally beautiful voice and raw talent, which he helped mold over time into the sophisticated and powerful voice you hear in the “Shine” recording. “I’d never had anyone there to support me,” AJ says of Malcolm. “I’d never had voice lessons or taken any classes.”

Thanks to the generosity of a great artist and a wonderful organization—and of course, the perseverance and courage of a strong young lady—that’s all changed.

* * * * * * * * * *

CREDITS

Jeremy Simoneaux | production mixer
Frank Galvan | production sound supervisor
Jeremy Scott Olsen | voice over
Jeremy Scott Olsen | sound editor / re-recording mixer

Paula Minardi | associate producer
Kimrey Nicholson | producer

Erick Iniguez | co-coordinating producer
Ryan Metcalf | co-coordinating producer
Casey Fowler | supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen | executive producer

thanks to…
Rosanne Ziering | for use of her music room
Toru Fujisaki | Malcolm’s hair (Taka Salon)

“Shine”
Written and performed by
Adreanna Patterson (vocals) and Malcolm Cross (piano)
Copyright 2012 by The Possibility Project
www.the-posibility-project.org

“Lamp Project Theme 2011″
Written and produced by
Nathan Schafer
copyright 2011 by Nathan Schafer

With great appreciation for our all-volunteer crew for their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

Copyright 2013 by The Lamp Project
All rights reserved

“Mollie Stone: Solidarity Through Song”

BY JEREMY OLSEN

Mollie Stone directing CCC

The power of music goes beyond what you hear — it has the ability to comfort, to educate, to empower and to connect individuals even if they are on the other side of the world. Music has the power to bring revolutionary change in a peaceful manner during challenging times. Mollie Stone, a conductor of the Chicago Children’s Choir, has been able to experience the unifying power of music throughout her career in South Africa and the U.S.

Through her extensive work with South African choirs and her project “Vela Vela,” Stone raises awareness about the significance of music for South Africans and its role in political and social issues like the anti-apartheid movement and the current struggle against HIV. She also emphasizes the importance of maintaining authenticity when learning and teaching music from different cultures.

With her mother constantly playing South African music in their home in Chicago, Stone was already familiar with world music as a child. Quite naturally, she became drawn to South African choral music when she learned national songs linked to the anti-apartheid movement as a member of the Chicago Children’s Choir during her teenage years. When the South African apartheid was in the process of ending, learning those songs felt very relevant to Stone. “It was happening half a world away, but it was really interesting since it paralleled our own Civil Rights Movement,” Stone said on the phone.

She gained a newfound love for South African music when the Choir went on tour in the country in 1996. She loved the music for its beautiful sound and the way it united South Africans in helping them form a new national identity after apartheid.

However the complex rhythms, the rich vocal tones, and correct pronunciation in those South African songs were all lost with the simplified versions that Stone learned in the choir when they returned to the U.S. “South African music unfortunately is one of the most butchered by transcriptions,” Stone explained. “When you try to notate South African music, it really just destroys it…It ends up sounding nothing like South African music.”

In recalling her frustration, Stone also explained that the simplification of South African music risks feeding the harmful stereotypes that music from different cultures are inferior to Western classical music, which would be a poor influence on younger generations. “If we teach music from other cultures well, [young people] will grow up to care about the rest of the world and not just think that America is the center of the universe…If we dumb it down, we’re teaching our kids something that’s really wrong and really racist in the long run.”

To address this problem, Stone created “Vela Vela” during graduate school to allow teachers and students in other countries to learn South African music directly from South Africans. With this project, Stone and her friend returned to South Africa to record natives teaching their songs through oral tradition — the way they’re supposed to be taught. Despite the numerous logistic and technical challenges in producing “Vela Vela,” it was all worth it when the teaching DVD was met with success. “It [allowed] Americans to hear what South Africans actually sound like when they sing their music,” Stone said.

“Vela Vela” also highlights the crucial role of music in South Africa’s persisting issues of government corruption, poverty, and HIV, the spread of which has been a dire problem in the country’s society.

“There are many reasons in which one in three people are infected,” Stone said solemnly. Open discussion about HIV is discouraged because of the danger of becoming a target for violence. Many women who don’t have control in their relationships or their sexual safety contract the virus when their partners don’t want to use condoms, which contributes to the large population of children and orphans infected with AIDS. “Only in the past few years have things changed so that people now have access to anti-retrovirals that enable them to live with the virus,” she added.

South Africans continue to fight for change with the limitless power of music. “In South Africa, people always adapt their choral music to use in different struggles, and so singing songs that helped them be successful in the past gives a sense of hope and determination that they’ll survive this current struggle. […] When they sing, they feel they’re a part of a community but they’re individuals,” Stone said.

“To see that as a conductor is really inspiring because in America, we don’t often sing music that is really connected to anything that we’re dealing with, especially politically and socially,” she continued. “To have music be such a part of everyday life sort of comes naturally in South Africa in a way that it doesn’t here or in anywhere else that I’ve ever seen.”

Today, Stone continues to share her passion for South African music by teaching workshops across the U.S. wherein she expands her students’ musical knowledge and lets them see how music from different cultures can connect with the issues in their own lives. “They feel like they’re in solidarity with people in their own communities and in other countries when they sing the South African songs about HIV…If we sing songs about the anti-apartheid struggle, we’ll talk about inequality.”

She also recounts the many times the faces of her advanced students light up with joy when they realize that singing South African choral music helps them better understand compositions from Brahms or Bach. “Everything is so connected, and to break down that wall is so exciting.” Stone believes fervently devoting herself to teaching her workshops as authentically as possible gives her students the chance to become more global citizens by learning music from different cultures without feeling self-conscious.

The enthusiastic reactions of her students motivate Stone to continue growing as a passionate teacher, conductor, and individual. “It’s amazing to have that constant balancing of being open to the world around me and then bringing it back to my students, and then learning from them how to share the things that turn on all the lights in my head, my soul, and my voice.”

Chloe Flower performs “Revolution”

Pianist Chloe Flower, with the help of legendary producer Babyface, has married classical music and hip-hop in her song “Revolution.”

Supporting Chloe means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful music. She is a fervent and long-time supporter of sexual slavery survivor Somaly Mam, of the the Somaly Mam Foundation, and of the battle to end human trafficking. Don’t miss our interview with Chloe, where she talks about her music and about the foundation.

VISIT
Chloe Flower’s site
BUY
Chloe Flower’s music
VISIT
the Somaly Mam Foundation
DONATE to
the Somaly Mam Foundation
VOLUNTEER with
the Somaly Mam Foundation

CREDITS

Jeremy Scott Olsen post audio

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

“Revolution”
from “Prelude in G minor, op. 23, no.5″
composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff
performed by Chloe Flower
piano arrangements by Chloe Flower
drum programming by Tim & Bob
additional arrangements by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Tim & Bob
copyright 2012 by Chloe Flower and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

with great appreciation for our all-volunteer crew for their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Breaking silences: musician Chloe Flower

Classical pianist Chloe Flower has taken Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minor,” and with the help of producers that include the legendary Babyface (aka Kenny Edmonds), arranged it as a hip-hop instrumental. That’s right, classical crossover into hip-hop. Her new single is called “Revolution,” and Flower certainly hopes she’s on to something big, a musical revolution which could bring classical music closer to the mainstream. But that’s just part of the story.

Don’t miss Chloe Flower giving an exclusive live performance of “Revolution” for The Lamp Project.

Flower is donating 100% of her proceeds to the Somaly Mam Foundation to combat sexual slavery and human trafficking. Millions of people around the world are sold into slavery each year; girls enslaved in brothels can be as young as three. Three years old. Chloe Flower stumbled upon the global sex trade as a happy tourist in Cambodia, lazily choosing to skip her plane flight and stay put in Siem Reap a while longer. When the plane she would have boarded crashed and all aboard died, she decided she was here for a reason. She rented a bike, and in riding around the area she came across what looked like brothels. She began researching the issue and found Somaly Mam, survivor of sexual slavery and already the founder of AFESIP, who would soon launch a U.S.-based organization to broaden awareness of and support for efforts to end these atrocities. That new organization would be The Somaly Mam Foundation, and Flower has been a staunch supporter of it—and a friend of Somaly Mam’s—ever since.

And so, deeply rooted in this awareness of a horrendous global criminal enterprise and her long-time involvement in efforts to eradicate it, Flower’s song, “Revolution,” together with the coming album of which it is a part, tells the story of Somaly Mam’s own personal revolution, overthrowing the torturous events of her youth to become the saviour of so many girls and women trapped on that same dark path. And it speaks of her hope for a larger revolution against the people and forces that enable and perpetuate human trafficking worldwide. Flower acknowledges that it’s a difficult topic to bring up in a conversation at work or with friends, and hopes her music starts those conversations and contributes to awareness.

Please, enjoy this interview with Chloe Flower by filmmaker Dalton Gaudin. You’ll hear more about her and about the Somaly Mam Foundation, and you’ll get to hear some of her fantastic piano playing. Find more in the exclusive live performance Flower gave for The Lamp Project. And if this cause moves you, remember that you have the power to help. Please follow the links below to visit the SMF, donate, or volunteer. Share our interview, or share what you learn about human trafficking. Or buy Flower’s music, and your money will benefit a tremendous cause while supporting an artist who has stood by that cause for years.

VISIT
Chloe Flower’s site
BUY
Chloe Flower’s music
VISIT
the Somaly Mam Foundation
DONATE to
the Somaly Mam Foundation
VOLUNTEER with
the Somaly Mam Foundation

CREDITS

Felix Lau music editor
Brandon Proulx sound editor / re-recording mixer
Jeremy Scott Olsen sound supervisor

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Dalton Gaudin interview written and conducted by

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Hayley Welgus and the Somaly Mam Foundation photographs
used with permission and gratitude

“Revolution”
from “Prelude in G minor, op. 23, no. 5″
composed by Sergei Rachmaninoff
performed by Chloe Flower
piano arrangements by Chloe Flower
drum programming by Tim & Bob
additional arrangements by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds
produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and Tim & Bob
copyright 2012 by Chloe Flower and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Anne Harris performs “Lullaby”

Singer-songwriter-fiddler Anne Harris was kind enough to play a song for us and let us share it with you. Here she is performing “Lullaby” with just her fiddle and her voice.

Supporting Anne means supporting an artist who is giving the world more than just wonderful music. She works with a number of good causes in addressing important social issues. In our interview with her she talks about her involvement with Coat Angels, who are working hard to provide winter coats to disadvantaged school children in Chicago.

VISIT
Anne’s site
BUY
Anne’s music
VISIT
Coat Angels
DONATE to
Coat Angels
VOLUNTEER with
Coat Angels

Watch our interview with Anne Harris.

CREDITS

Jeremy Scott Olsen post audio

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
album version performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

A WARMING EFFECT: MUSICIAN ANNE HARRIS

BY JEREMY OLSEN

In music and in speaking out for a cause, it helps to have a voice backed by passion and conviction. It’s not so much that the voice carries further, but rather that its impact is felt more deeply. Ohio-born, Chicago-based Anne Harris puts this into practice for both music and great causes. And she does it with not one, but two voices: the warm, soulful crooning of her own vocal cords and the exuberant wail of her fiddle.

Don’t miss Anne Harris in an exclusive live performance of “Lullaby” for The Lamp Project.

In 2006, friends of Harris launched Coat Angels, a non-profit organization to provide warm coats for disadvantaged school children in Chicago. In the years since, they’ve helped over a thousand kids thanks in part to Anne’s own involvement, which includes donating her time for benefit concerts.

Please, enjoy this interview with Anne by filmmaker Dalton Gaudin. You’ll hear more about her and about Coat Angels, and you’ll be treated to some of her music. You can hear more of her music in this exclusive live performance for The Lamp Project. And if this cause moves you, please follow the links below to visit the site, donate, or volunteer. Or buy Anne’s music and you will be supporting a musician who is truly putting her powerful voices to good use.

CREDITS

Felix Lau music editor
Jeremy Scott Olsen sound editor / re-recording mixer

Jason E. Johnson editor

Dalton Gaudin director / director of photography

Dalton Gaudin interview written and conducted by

Lauren Thorne producer
Ryan Metcalf supervising producer
Jeremy Scott Olsen executive producer

Aigars Lapsa, Simona Capaldi, Susan Ryan photographs
used with permission and gratitude

“Lullaby”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris (vocals, fiddle), Chris Siebold (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Rich Stitzel (drums)
copyright 2008 by Anne Harris

“Leaves Turnin’”
music and lyrics by Anne Harris
performed by Anne Harris
copyright 2001 by Anne Harris

with great appreciation for our entire all-volunteer crew—and their talent, dedication, professionalism and time
 

© copyright 2012 by The Lamp Project
all rights reserved

Songcraft and Sustainability: musician Victoria Vox

BY TRISH FONTANILLA

Victoria Vox

As a personal challenge and a gift to enthusiastic fans, Victoria Vox is recording 52 songs in 52 weeks. “The 52 Covers Project” features the singer-songwriter, her ukulele, and a more unusual instrument: the mouth trumpet.

Why mouth trumpet? Vox laughs about this. “In 2005 I performed 200 shows. I drove around the country all by myself. That’s a lot of alone time. I started writing a tune that had a jazz form and it really called for a solo of some sort.” Naturally, mouth trumpet came out.

Originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Vox now lives in Baltimore, traveling to give workshops and performing more than 125 shows a year. Her repertoire is an eclectic, all-acoustic mix of folk, contemporary, and jazz, while her ukulele style ranges into surprising, alternative rhythms and themes.

Vox has attracted a stream of accolades and awards. This summer, her album, “Exact Change” won the “Vox Pop” vote for Best Adult Contemporary Album at the Tenth Annual Independent Music Awards. At the same time, she has been exceptionally good at relating directly with fans. Those fans have responded by funding three albums since 2006.

Recognition has also encouraged Vox to donate a portion of her CD sales to 1% for the Planet. A non-profit organization, 1% is actually a network of companies, all donating 1% of their sales to environmental organizations worldwide. Vox said that she had always been environmentally conscious, but felt she could do more. “I decided to use my music to create awareness about the environment, mostly through the decisions I make as a business owner.”

She continually seeks new ways to promote environmental awareness. Last year, Vox began taking mass transit to many of her gigs. Then, in October of 2011, she joined Team 1% in a 320-mile bicycle event called Climate Ride to fight climate change and support sustainable solutions.

As fans say, “Stay tuned.” Vox shows no signs of slowing–not in creative innovation nor in active support of the causes she loves.

Victoria VoxFacebookYouTube | Twitter

Climate Ride |  Climate Ride