Posted on January 13, 2022
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Categories: News from SDP

On Friday, students at Hill-Freedman World Academy (HFWA), through Hill-Freedman Records, are releasing Love & Healing, an album of 32 original songs that amplify students’ perspectives on the challenges of the past two years, from the pandemic to racialized violence, and showcases how music can be used for healing.

“Our music hopes to meet a need in our community as we focus on the importance of more love and healing after a year of virtual learning and navigating through the pandemic,” said HFWA music technology teacher Ezechial Thurman. “In difficult times, music can help us heal.”

The album, a central component of Hill-Freedman’s IB Design/Music Technology curriculum in the school’s International Baccalaureate Programme, was made over the course of the 2020-21 school year. The album features all tenth grade students (now eleventh graders), school leadership, eight student producers, artists from World Cafe Live (WCL), fellows from the national service initiative ArtistYear and WHYY Media Labs.

“As we began, the idea of collaborating with a brand-new group of students in an entirely virtual environment, and I mean all of it–lyric-writing, music creation, song structure, production–was quite a daunting prospect…was it even going to be possible?” said World Cafe Live teaching artist Andrew Lipke. “But once again, the dedication, creativity and hard work the students brought to the project blew me away. And the leadership, mentoring, and commitment from the team of student producers was inspirational to witness.”

Love & Healing is the fifth album of Hill-Freedman Records, the record label of HFWA, which was launched in partnership with WCL in 2016. Founded by Thurman, Hill-Freedman Records is a student-run recording studio and record label with a focus on empowering students creatively to use music and songwriting as a way to affect positive change in their world. Working out of a state of the art music technology lab and recording studio, all HFWA high school students study and create music as a part of their IB Design courses. The School District of Philadelphia offers IB Programmes (IB) across eight schools.

In December, Hill-Freedman Records and WCL released an accompanying video that features students and Philadelphia civic and sports leaders, including Avonte Maddox, Jordan Mailata and Rodney McLeod of the Philadelphia Eagles, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, PA State Rep. Chris Rabb and City Council members Cherelle L. Parker and Derek Green.

In addition to Lipke, Grammy-nominated songwriter and Girls’ High graduate Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver, songwriter/performer Bethlehem the Vocussionist (Bethlehem Roberson), ArtistYear fellows Matt Evans (Central High graduate) and Anna Sudderth and WHYY’s Sam Dellert collaborated on the project, which took place almost entirely online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The album will be available via streaming and can be found here. On Friday at noon, HFWA graduate Christian Harrison will perform a DJ set of the album on the District’s Facebook Page here.