Triumph Music Academy, CYC collaborate on spoken word album set to music

OML: CYC, Triumph collab for new project

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - Poetry and music have collided in a big way in Grand Rapids. Writing students from the Creative Youth Center and music students from Triumph Music Academy have collaborated on a music and spoken word album, that will soon be released publicly.

"This is the first and largest endeavor of its kind to take place in Grand Rapids," said James Hughes, Director of Triumph Music Academy. "They were really proud when it all came together."

It was the summer of 2016 when the idea of this collaboration was presented.

"It was a simple brainstorming session between me and James [Hughes]," said Brianne Carpenter, Program Manager of the Creative Youth Center. "It quickly evolved into a full-blown partnership and the project was underway."

Triumph Music Academy students wrote original music scores while the CYC students wrote their poems. When the collaboration was complete, all 19 of the student-artists who participated got on stage and performed their works in front of a sold-out Wealthy Theater last December. 

The success and positive feedback from that performance led to more brainstorming between Hughes and Carpenter. They decided to take the collaboration and make an album.

"We were able to gain access to River City Studios in Grand Rapids and have each piece professionally recorded," said Carpenter. "Seeing the faces of our students as they recorded a record, with material they had written themselves, was truly incredible."

The recordings were completed in March 2017, and for the past two months, the student-artists have been counting down the days until their album's release on May 22.

"Honestly, this is one of the most creative things I have ever seen in Grand Rapids," said Hughes. "This endeavor really expanded the boundaries of my students at Triumph."

The student-artists from the CYC are all junior high age from Grand Rapids inner-city schools. While eight different musicians from Triumph wrote the music, 11 different writers composed the poetry. 

"Seeing these students go from having little to no idea of what the spoken word was, to being confident in using the art form as a way to express themselves, was an incredible evolution to witness," said Carpenter. 

"I don't think anything has been more fulfilling than being able to hold that finished CD in my hands and say, 'these kids created this; they did it;" said Hughes.

On Monday, May 22, the CD will be released to the public. On that same day, there's an album release party at "Brewery Vivant" in Grand Rapids, beginning at 7:00 p.m., where those interested can meet and greet collaborators involved with this project.

The album, which contains 23 separate works, will also be available to purchase on all major music streaming platforms, such as iTunes and Spotify.

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If you have a story idea for "Our Michigan Life", you can send it to Brent Ashcroft:  brentashcroft@wzzm13.com

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