Black Agency Song Project

Juniors and seniors enrolled in Good Trouble: Black Agency with Molly Vianney and Beth Krasemann recently participated in a unique music project culminating on May 6.

The assignment tasked students with research as if authoring a Rolling Stone article featuring a contemporary song written and performed by a Black artist representing Black musical history. After choosing their songs, students presented their selections to the class commenting on elements such as tone, rhythm, and lyrics. The goal was to investigate how each artist was influenced to reflect the message and meaning behind Black agency and resistance.

“Black music is the soundtrack of American history,” says Krasemann when explaining what inspired the assignment. “My intention was to uncover major movements and themes to demonstrate how these tracks influenced today’s hit songs. The students were very engaged and thoroughly present while examining these materials.”

Rhian Jones is a senior from Kingston, Jamaica who commented on music as a form of expression. “Music is often centered on the harsh realities of people’s lives,” she says. “The song I chose focuses on the struggles of poverty and hardships that come with living in low-income neighborhoods, where the bare minimum in resources and accessibility is limited. Listening and understanding the context and lyrics of songs adds another perspective to the lens through which you see and hear the music. I appreciate this class because it brings a new outlook on agency, and I've learned so much about the methods and figures throughout different periods of Black excellence and agency. This class is life-changing and my favorite I've ever taken.”