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Louisville Orchestra’s Rap School expanding spring and summer programs

Five kids stand in a line, one has a microphone and appears to be singing.
Breya Jones
Members of Real Young Prodigys, many of which participated in Rap School, performed their song about the CROWN Act at the press conference.

The Louisville Orchestra’s Rap School will be expanding spring and summer programs with funding from a $500,000 grant.

Rap School is a partnership between the Louisville Orchestra andHip Hop Into Learning (HHN2L), a hip hop-based education program promoting activism and civic engagement through music.

Rap School students get to perform the songs they’ve created alongside the Louisville Orchestra during MakingMUSIC education concerts.

“It’s like seeing whole eras of music collide and come together for the better,” Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams said at a press conference Thursday. “It’s the best of what musical collaboration can be."

Last year HHN2L received a $500,000 grant from the Lewis Prize for Music. HHN2L founders NyRee Clayton-Taylor and Antonio Taylor directed some of that funding to add Rap School offerings.

“Students who may not play an instrument, who may not understand classical music, will get to see their culture represented with the Louisville Orchestra,” Clayton-Taylor said.

Abrams said the additional funding will help create more opportunities for students to participate in the Rap School.

“Now we’re going to do a summer workshop, there’s gonna be more integration with the orchestra, there's going to be more opportunity to present the work that we’re doing throughout the community,” Abrams said.

The new summer camp will run June 5 through June 9 of this year and will be free for participants, like all Rap School programs.

Abrams said the personal nature of creating rap allowed for the program to continue beyond the concert.

“If we take on an issue in a song, we follow through and try and get that change at the policy level,” Abrams said.

An example of this is the Real Young Prodigys, created by HHN2L which features some Rap School participants, promoting the CROWN Act.

A large part of HHN2L's mission is to provide young people a way to feel heard about the issues most important to them.

“I wanted to be able to use my voice and my talent to bring kids together and unify everyone in the community,” 14-year-old Arielle Betts said.

Betts has previously performed with the Louisville Orchestra in “The Nutcracker.”

“That’s really when I got my start on a big stage when I was dancing very heavily, but now I’m gonna get to perform again using talents like my rapping skills and my singing skills,” Betts said.

Both adults and students participating in Rap School see it as an opportunity to connect audiences across generations through music and to bring attention to issues most impacting them.

“This is the model, this is the model of you turning music into action,” Abrams said.

Support for this story was provided in part by theJewish Heritage Fund.

News Youth Reporting
Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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