The AjA Project: Photography Programs for San Diego Youth

Everyone’s story is worth telling, every story is worthy of a song… The SongStream Project brings the joy of lullabies back to City Heights families

By Famo Musa | famo@ajaproject.org

 

The SongStream Project took shape in City Heights as a mobile recording studio, exploring the connections between music and memory, story and song. The Project’s mission is to use the interwoven path of music and memory to gather and share stories that build a culture of peace, explore social issues, weave webs of relationships, encourage empathy and curiosity and act as a catalyst for new creativity.

 

Singer-songwriter and co-founder of the SongStream Project, Talia Morales, performs a song at “The Landscape of Lullabies” event at the City Heights Library. This particular song is one her mother used to sing to Morales and her brother.

On Saturday, March 29th SongStream Project founders Talia Morales, Vanessa Contopulos and Michael Fryer hosted “The Landscape of Lullabies” at the City Heights Library. The event showcased a beautiful tapestry of audio and video recordings the group collected over the previous three months. During this time, the SongStream Project set up a mobile recording studio at the City Heights Farmers Market to record stories, songs and lullabies remembered and sung by local San Diego residents.

 

City Heights resident Madina Maho, 21, sings a song to her daughter at the SongStream project booth at the City Heights Farmers Market. The Kenyan lullaby was passed down from Maho’s mother from generation to generation.

From these recordings, a collection of audio portraits was created and shared with the community during the one-day event. SongStream Project participants had the opportunity during the event to listen to their stories and lullabies and artfully reflect on the impact of what they said and heard.

“I believe the spirit of a healthy community is nurtured by the positive relationships we can make,” Morales said. “During our time at the market we witnessed how music brought unlikely people together in a common (art) space, if only for a brief moment.”

Embedded into the collection of stories and lullabies, SongStream co-founder Fryer provided audio context for the participants’ recordings. Fryer spoke about how lullabies have been used for soothing and rocking babies to sleep for centuries. He also spoke about how people from all over the world who now call Southern California their home have brought their lullabies with them, creating a “Landscape.”

 

Vanessa Contopulos and Michael Fryer, co-founders of the SongStream project, perform an original song at the “The Landscape of Lullabies” event at the City Heights Library on March 29th.

 

Morales co-founded The SongStream Project in the summer of 2012 with her colleagues Contopulos, Fryer and Alex Dausch. Over the past two years, the team created two audio documentaries, one looking at the role of music in the lives of four young adults on the autism spectrum, and the other exploring resilience in the context of music and mental health.

Since January of this year, the SongStream Project team has been focused on developing their latest series, “The Landscape of Lullabies,” which uses the universal lens of lullabies to explore themes of family, home, and values.

As a co-founder of the SongStream Project, Morales speaks about how the project has had a positive effect on the City Heights community. “I think The SongStream Project offered a space for the community to come together in the spirit of play and music,” Morales said. “I personally appreciated this opportunity for broadening my social experience and making more diverse connections…and based on my observations, can also assume that this may be true for many other community members who crossed paths in the SongStream space.”

“Music is my lifeline,” Morales says. “I am a music therapist, I have been blessed to also witness the transformative and healing power of music in people’s lives and have spent the past few years researching how the arts, and music in particular, can play a unique role for positive social change”.

The SongStream Project has status as a nonprofit through the Creative Activists Program, a worldwide group of artists run by the Creative Visions Foundation using creativity to advocate for social change.

 

City Heights residents attended the “The Landscape of Lullabies” event at the City Heights Library to hear the stories behind the participants’ lullabies and to share their own personal stories.

“As part of our greater peace building vision, SongStream believes in the importance of creating spaces where a multiplicity of voices and in particular, underrepresented voices can have an opportunity to be heard,” Morales said. “I find that the personal becomes the collective and the collective becomes personal…As far as the greater impact, it is challenging to identify the lasting or ripple effect that a brief moment shared via song or story can have.”

The SongStream Project team is currently brainstorming ideas for future projects. Stay tuned…

 

To listen to the SongStream Project stories and lullabies, please visit:

https://soundcloud.com/groups/songstream-landscape-of-lullabies

 

For more information about the SongStream Project, please visit

http://www.thesongstreamproject.org/

 

joe

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