The Baltimore Song Project is an educational and experiential opportunity for students from Baltimore colleges and universities. The project's focus is the remarkable song Baltimore, written and first performed in 2008 by Baltimore musicians Caleb Stine and Saleem Heggins. The collaboration between the two musicians was initiated by WTMD, the public radio station owned by Towson University.
The two musicians came to the collaboration from totally different musical backgrounds. Caleb Stine's musical influences are American folk and country. Saleem Heggins' musical roots are hip-hop and urban contemporary. Each of the song's lyrics represents a historic, cultural or iconic image of Baltimore. The song's message is one of hope, faith and pride in the everyday life of all of us who live and work in Baltimore. No song has ever been written that tells the story of life in our city as does Baltimore. Many Baltimoreans report being in tears the first time they heard the song.
After hearing Baltimore and seeing it performed live, two University of Baltimore adjunct faculty members sought and received a grant from UB's Baltimore Renaissance Seed Scholars Fund to reach out and engage students from local colleges and universities in telling the song's story through different artistic mediums. The two are Paul Sturm, who was teaching in the Community Studies & Civic Engagement Program and Christina Ralls, adjunct faculty and UB's former Community Artist in residence under AmeriCorps.
The colleges and universities involved to date in the Baltimore Song Project are:
University of Baltimore: Students in a spring 2009 freshman learning community course taught by Professor Sturm selected eight themes from the song's lyrics and made multi-media presentations providing background, context and additional information. The presentations included a moving video tribute to homeless people, a hands-on exercise in creating artistic graffiti and the revelation of a student who became aware that he has a substance addiction while researching the song lyric including "addicts."
Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA): Students in the fall 2009 Finding Baltimore course created a stunning mural consisting of four panels depicting the images and themes of the song. The mural was designed as a traveling exhibit with the goal of being permanently housed in Penn Station as a way to brighten up the station's interior, welcome first-time visitors and say "welcome home" to returning residents. It was unveiled at Penn Station for the month of March 2010 and has since been displayed on the UB campus and at Artscape 2010.
The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University: Students at Peabody Dance are creating A Dance Called Baltimore, a multi-media piece reflecting the lyrics, images and emotions of the song and other aspects of urban life that will engage the hearts, minds and senses of the performers and audience members. Meghan Flanigan is choreographing and facilitating the piece with Mika Sellens, a London-based musician, as sound producer. The dance will be performed at the historic North Avenue Market, 20 W. North Ave. on Friday, August 13th at 12:30 PM and Saturday, August 14th at 6:00 PM. as part of Station North Arts & Entertainment District's Second Saturday festivities. The performances are free and open to the public.
For more information about the Baltimore Song Project, please contact:
Article and Blog Links:
Baltimore Sun: http://www.baltimoresun.com/entertainment/arts/bal-ae.baltimore07mar07,0,7543918.story
WTMD Blog: http://wtmd.blogspot.com/2010/03/penn-station-celebrates-baltimore.html
Maryland Institute College of Art: http://www.mica.edu/x14881.xmlM
UB Press Release: http://www.ubalt.edu/news/index.cfm?id=1193
Bmore Media: http://www.bmoremedia.com/features/bmoresongproject030210.aspx