For more information, please visit our Rhapsody Website!
“Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons recently made American roots music come alive for students of the University of Washington’s “Music and Community” seminar. They musically expressed in nuanced ways the meandering traditional melodies, be it in ballads, blues, or folk songs of 19th century Americans whose music they have listened to and learned well. Their research on the songs was evident in the tales they told to deliver cultural meanings and functions of the music in the lives of historic rural and urban people of the Appalachians, the Ozarks, and the American south. As we exchanged with them on issues and ideals of musical communities, it became clear to all present that they hold in high esteem the historic American musical communities even as they are actively engaged in bringing the music home to living communities of listeners today. Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons are remarkable musicians who are making their mark in the honoring of American roots music for our listening pleasure.”
Patricia S. Campbell
Donald E. Petersen Professor of Music.
Head, Ethnomusicology – University of Washington.
Chair, Smithsonian Folkways Board
The goal of the Rhapsody Project is to strengthen communities through song and spread the gospel of folk and blues music. Rhapsody is the integration of performance and teaching through public events and school workshops designed to facilitate cross-generational, cross-cultural interactions through the medium of music. We want regular folks–especially the youth–to understand that America’s folk and blues music is not a relic, but a thriving tradition. It’s not only about the fantastical, deeply mysterious recordings that we can all hear now on records or online. Music is a playground for the imagination with no barriers to entry.
Even if you don’t have a voice to sing with, you can drum out rhythm with your limbs to talk about your sorrow, tell your story, and drive your blues away. We’re trying to bring back something that has almost been lost. That is the understanding that you are not a spectator watching the tradition, you are a participant who can grow and expand the tradition. We are working towards the day when every student has their instrument of choice available to them. They are in touch with the musicians in their neighborhood, and they are afforded regular opportunities during which they can study, jam, and perform with those musicians.
The various dimensions of the Rhapsody Project all share a common goal. We aim to inspire homemade music making while we spark or spur young folks’ curiosity about their culture and its history