Rhapsody Songsters at the Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival, 2017
The Rhapsody Project is a program of Community Arts Create
The Rhapsody Project strengthens communities through celebrations of America's musical heritage. We do this to acknowledge the stories that shape our music. We want regular folks–especially the youth–to understand that America’s folk and blues music is not a relic, but a thriving blend of traditions that help us learn who we are.
Our instructors explore these cultures through music workshops, residencies and performances. We facilitate cross-generational, cross-cultural interactions through the medium of music.
At our home in Seattle's Hillman City Collaboratory, we provide concerts, classes and workshops for students of all ages. The Rhapsody Project delivers homemade and community music making, to spark and spur curiosity about our cultures and our history. Our youth participants, aged 5 - 18 are equipped to serve their region as our future culture bearers, whose music is committed to empathy and equality.
Our partners at Northwest Folklife, the Centrum Foundation, and Washington Middle School also host our programs annually, giving our most dedicated students more opportunities to study with culture bearers and perform in ensembles.
We invite you to explore your own heritage, find what resonates, and extend those valuable traditions. To spur this movement, we task the young with talking to their elders, then teach them to turn those stories into their own songs using a myriad of American musical forms. When these stories are shared, all involved explore the backgrounds and cultures of those around them. This music makes people dance, sing, and celebrate cultures we may otherwise miss meeting face to face.
Washington Middle School, 2017
The Rhapsody Project was founded in 2013, and has grown to include a collective of musicians and their students. Our program was built through a partnership with Grammy-nominated educator Beth Fortune, who pilots the only fiddle class offered in a public middle school in Seattle's International District at Washington Middle School. Miss Fortune hired Ben Hunter to expand an after school feeder class for her Senior Fiddlers class. Two years later, Ben brought Joe Seamons aboard to add guitar and banjo to the curriculum. Cameron Armstrong soon joined as a partner, substituting and developing the program. After training students grades 6 - 8 for over five years, "Junior Fiddlers" was renamed "Rhapsody Songsters" to create a larger, more expansive set of programs for these students.
These programs strengthen communities and promote cultural equity through acknowledging our history while inspiring people of all ages to explore their personal roots. We believe that the songs, dances, and food of America’s roots culture contain a unique power to bridge the divides between young and old, marginalized and privileged, between our identity and our heritage.
By learning the songs of other cultures, interpreting them with respect, and absorbing the stories they contain, we can honor each culture’s contributions to us all. We offer workshop & residency programs on a range of subjects for all ages: American musical traditions of the fiddle & banjo, African Americans, Pacific Northwest folklore, and personal heritage are all explored through stories and song.