Street of Sound is a video documentary project that aims to provide buskers, regardless of race, sex, gender, or socioeconomic background, the opportunity to reach a wider audience through a free high-quality recording that ensures their talent is valued. We see Street of Sound as a way to propel street musicians into more fame within their own communities, and, in turn, help their audience support their art not only economically, but also civically. We hope to elevate how these musicians are seen in the public eye, since they are often judged unfairly due to the preconceived notion that musicians performing in the streets are “not as talented” as those who do not.
What Form will your Final Project Take?
Multiple Videos, Photography, Illustrations
Who was supporting you in with work?
Peter Lucas, Julien J. Studley Graduate Programs in International Affairs, Part-time Assistant Professor
How has this project has been impactful or transformative — for you personally or for those this work has impacted:
So far, we have connected with 25 street musicians, ranging from retired Broadway singers, to an all woman-identifying brass band, Hare Krishna devotees, a cellist who has been performing in the NYC streets since the ‘70’s, among others. One of the street musicians we have featured is a violinist called Alex Lee, who has now taken the media we produced to start sharing his music through his own business social media account, where he showcases photographs and videos of the performance we recorded for him, so that people can appreciate his music beyond the quick interactions on the streets.
We have also recorded The New Heights Brass Band, which was founded after an open call in the Female/Trans/Non-Binary Brass Players Facebook group was posted during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. This is a collective of musicians who believe music should be inclusive of voices that are predominantly excluded, particularly women, gender non-confirming, POC, and other voices. We have just finished recording them, and our recording will be used by this group to enter a competition for a commercial. This is yet another tangible way in which a free, high-quality video recording has already opened doors and provided new opportunities for the New Heights Brass Band to gain professional opportunities.
Further, we have started to connect with a larger number of street musicians by attending community events, such as the Empowerment to the People Concert Series, which sought to bridge the gap between arts, activism, and politics to communicate that “your vote defines tomorrow.” This event brought together many street musicians who were there to motivate their audience to vote. We have continued to connect with these street musicians, who aim to use their music and voice to further spread social justice causes.
What would you do differently? How would you advise a student who is going to do something similar?
I would try to connect more deeply with The New School community earlier on, and record student musicians from Mannes who are also performing on the streets. I would advise students to not try to complete every aspect of a video-documentary project with social justice aspects, like Street of Sound, on their own, but, rather, to find a team that also believes in the mission and goal of the project and who is passionate about lending their skills to advance it.
Are you going to publish or print your work?
We share our recordings on the Street of Sound Youtube Channel and Instagram
This award gave us the opportunity to be able to afford the equipment not accessible at The New School, so it really opened the doors for us. I would’ve appreciated connecting more deeply with other ELOA recipients.