With Hill-Freedman World Academy’s fourth album, students weave the anguish of 2020 into powerful new music
by Jessica Blatt Press, for The Philadelphia Citizen
Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous rallying cry takes on an all-new, heart-wrenching call to action as it’s woven throughout “Things That Matter,” the title track on the newest album from the students in the music technology program at Hill-Freedman World Academy.
The fourth album from Hill-Freedman Music Group, the high school’s record label in partnership with World Cafe Live (WCL), it was produced against the backdrop of the pandemic, protests, and ongoing unrest.
“Hearing the album reassures me, again, of the beautiful hope and possibility that is in our youth and in our high schoolers here in the city,” says Ezechial Thurman, the school’s revered music technology teacher, who oversees the program with support from WCL teaching artists Andrew Lipke, Chill Moody and Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver, as well as ArtistYear fellow Justin Jaramillo and teaching artist Ikeya Sade.
“It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of resources to be able to create a safe space for students to step in and really express their ideas, like they’ve done in this album. And I’m just thankful to be part of a community that cares enough to do that, a school that makes room for it as part of the curriculum,” Thurman says.
Thurman is also grateful to WCL’s Producing Director of Arts and Learning, David Bradley, and its President and CEO, Hal Real—who, despite the financial hit venues like WCL have faced during pandemic closures, have continued to support the program.