Congratulations to the winners of the 2013 Fulbright-mtvU Fellowships, Phil Babcock of Tufts University, Melinda Reyes of Georgetown, Garrett Rubin of Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester and Sara Skolnick from Boston University. These four U.S. scholars will be conducting research and sending blog updates from the Ghana, Turkey, Jordan and Colombia respectively for one academic year on projects that are designed to promote “the power of music” as a global force for mutual understanding. Best of luck!
School: Tufts University
Country Visiting: Ghana
Phil Babcock holds a Master of Arts degree in ethnomusicology from Tufts University. Babcock’s project focuses on the creation of an online record label devoted to the digital distribution of music from popular musicians in Northern Ghana. Along with his collaborator, Sheriff Ghale—a popular reggae artist based in the north—Babcock’s goal is to provide a platform that allows North Ghanaian musicians an opportunity to be heard nationally and internationally. The capital city of Accra, on Ghana’s southern coast, is the country’s current entertainment industry epicenter, separated from the north both physically and religiously. For aspiring musicians in the north, it is very difficult to be heard beyond a local audience without moving to Accra and facing all the challenges that come with relocation. The creation of this online record label will allow northern musicians international visibility and distribution without forcing them to uproot their lives. Babcock’s project will also include organizing concerts in the northern capital of Tamale to provide an opportunity for local musicians. Babcock’s Fulbright-mtvU grant is an extension of his master’s thesis fieldwork, which focused on the life, music, and worldview of Sheriff Ghale. Before moving to Boston to pursue his master’s degree at Tufts, Babcock lived in his hometown of Seattle, WA, working at a record store and trying his best to learn how to mix live bands.
School: Georgetown University
Major: Regional and Compatative Studies
Country Visiting: Turkey
Melinda Reyes received a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service with a focus on conflict and identity in Russia, Turkey, and Eurasia from Georgetown University in 2013. She will base her research in Istanbul, Turkey’s de facto cultural capital, as she examines how musicians specializing in non-traditional, hybridized genres navigate identity, and how the city’s musical landscape as a whole engages with evolving conceptions of citizenship and belonging in Turkey. Reyes will take into special account the experiences of women and musicians in jazz and electronic music, whose particular genres in the Turkish context tend to integrate multiple cultural influences. Reyes will document her findings through podcasts and video clips featuring local artists whose work creates dialogue and offers unique perspectives on the intersection of the self, the city, and music’s ability to foster social change.
School: Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester
Major: Classical Voice Performance and U.S.-Middle Eastern Cultural Diplomacy
Country Visiting: Jordan
Garrett Rubin is a 2013 graduate of the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester, where he studied both classical voice performance and U.S.-Middle Eastern cultural diplomacy. Rubin will research how music education can be used to promote psychosocial health among youth refugees in Jordan. In collaboration with local musicians, Rubin will organize programs aimed at providing displaced youth with an opportunity to use music-making as a means for developing confidence, expressing emotion, and building self-worth. Additionally, Rubin will document his project by creating a multimedia songbook for American music classrooms. This web-based music education tool will include recordings and sheet music from program classes in Amman, as well as original video footage documenting the lives and stories of participants and their families. Prior to his Fulbright-mtvU grant, Rubin worked closely with the Shropshire Music Foundation, an organization that implements music education programs for children living in countries affected by armed-conflict. He also served as the co-director of the Vancouver International Song Institute’s Arts of Conscience Symposium at the University of British Columbia.
School: Boston University
Major: Political Science
Country Visiting: Colombia
Sara Skolnick holds of Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Boston University. While in Boston, Skolnick spent several years cultivating her skills as a DJ, event producer, multimedia journalist and advocate for hybridized, digital music as a tool for self-representation. These activities hold special significance for Skolnick because she comes from an Ecuadorian-Russian immigrant family. Based in Bogotá, Skolnick will investigate the significance of Internet-driven, low-barrier access to digital music production, and the opportunities for artists to elevate their own culture and radicalize tradition. Her Fulbright-mtvU research focuses on digital productions creating class-transcending, intergenerational Colombian soundscapes pairing regional musical traditions with international club sounds. Skolnick will also create a mixtape series and bilingual webseries to develop a digital archive of Colombian producers and the surrounding movement. Lastly, Skolnick will coordinate a workshop series in collaboration with a local NGO, La Lengua de mi Barrio, which offers free music production programs as tools for artistic agency. The programs with La Lengua de mi Barrio will benefit youth leaders who are using music to transform their communities through nonviolence.