For four weeks, Washington College student mentors and Kent High School students have been meeting at Minary’s Dream Alliance to pluck sound bites out of Kent County’s recorded history and shape them into contemporary collages of music and spoken words wrapped in a hip-hop beat.
Sponsored by Washington College’s Starr Center, the “Hip Hop Time Capsule” is an innovative learning program developed to explore the rich traditions of Kent County’s African American music, culture, and history.
The three-week program immerses students in workshops learning how to research Chesapeake Heartland’s digital archives in search of the perfect spoken phrase or gospel lyric. The collected sound bites, “samples,” are selected by the students and handed over to WC sound engineers to be “cleaned” and ready to overlay with others. Original student lyrics are sometimes added or snippets from the oral history archives.
To add to the sound lab experience, professional musicians and writers hold workshops to discuss their creative process. Poet and playwright Robert Earl Price recording artist Kentavius Jones (appearing in this video), and Karen Somerville were a few who discussed history through the lens of art.
Faithlin Hunter, a Junior at Washington College and classical violinist, was surprised at how the experience affected her.
Originally not a fan of hip-hop, Hunter began to appreciate the history of Kent County through the discovery of its archives. “I found inspiration in the stories of growing up in Kent County and taking those experiences and sound and making something new. It made me grow as an artist and violinist,” she says.
With one week left in the program, students hope to have a substantial catalog of original sounds to present at the end of the month.
The Spy interviewed Starr Center’s Asst. Director for Programs and Experiential Learning Kacey Stewart and Kentavius Jones about the summer program.
Chesapeake Heartland is an initiative of the Starr Center working in partnership with numerous partners in Kent County (including Sumner Hall, the Kent Cultural Alliance, and the Kent County Public Library), and with the collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture,
This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more about Chesapeake Heartland, a collaboration between Washington College and the Smithsonian please go here. For more about Minary’s Dream go here.