In a world inundated with information and digital noise, where sharing one's own story seems increasingly daunting, modern music –particularly hip-hop – emerges as a powerful tool to engage and inspire the youth.
In April, May and August of 2023, Seven Vision and their partners hosted three youth workshops for underserved, middle-school-age students who are less likely to thrive in a standardized educational setting. The workshops aimed to encourage the students to use modern music to explore their creativity and inner reflection.
The Voices of Wisdom program was founded by multi-faceted artist and educators, Quincy Davis and Alexandra Loves. Together, their shared philosophy laid the foundation for the mission of the Voices of Wisdom program within Seven Vision Studios, which is a documentary and music video production company.
The Voices of Wisdom program meets youth where they are, offering impactful engaging audio, visual, storytelling pieces that spark interest for a new learning experience. Their vision states: “Creative self-expression provides a vehicle for youth to explore their personal truth and discover a sense of purpose and place, as a valuable member of our community. Investing in our youth gives opportunity for them to become leaders of tomorrow, looking towards solutions we all face.”
The program brings youth participants and local artists together to talk and participate in sharing circles to create a culture of respect and equality. They explore themes such as transformation through struggle with identity, overcoming addiction and violence and finding a spiritual path. In Voices of Wisdom, they collaborated with local hip-hop artists like Talilo Marfil, Desirae Harp and artist instructor Carolina Nascimento, to provide mentorship and guidance during their three workshops.
The three workshops produced by Voices of Wisdom were partially funded by the 2023 cycle of Metro’s Community Placemaking grant program. The $17,800 grant enabled them to compensate local artists for their time and mentorship. Community Placemaking grants are offered once a year and support community-led, equity-centered arts and culture efforts that strengthen people’s connections to each other and places they care about.
“I don't think we would have been able to do it without [the Community Placemaking Grant], unless we wanted to just keep sacrificing, keep volunteering,” Quincy Davis, Voices of Wisdom Creative Director and artist, said. “I believe it's important for artists to be compensated and for us to show the value that they're offering.”
Voices of Wisdom partnered with Studio Latino, Latino Network’s arts and culture after school program at Kellogg and Reynolds middle schools. In April, Voices of Wisdom and Studio Latino hosted a weeklong music video production workshop at Kellogg Middle School. Students helped produce, direct and perform in the “Our Home” music video by Quincy Davis and Talilo Marfil.
“[The students] were basically a professional camera crew on a professional music video for that week,” Alexandra Love, Voices of Wisdom Project Coordinator and artist, said. The students took a field trip to INDÍGENA, a professional music studio, to experience the feeling of recording and producing music, many for their first time, exposing them to new opportunities and possibilities for their futures.
“It was interesting to work with a camera. It was a new experience and I enjoyed it,” said Sabriga, a music video production workshop student.
In May, Voices of Wisdom and Studio Latino hosted a weeklong lyrics and music production workshop at Reynolds Middle School. Students learned how to use lyrical expression to share their stories and feelings.
“I was proud of them. I think, for some of them, they were really happy to hear themselves for the first time and sort of like seeing themselves in a positive light,” Davis said.
With the support of the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission Community Grants program, Voices of Wisdom brought a music studio to the students. Davis and Loves were able to procure high-quality music production equipment and transform the students’ afterschool classroom into a professional studio.
“We put it in their hands. You can do anything. Let's see what you got. And so, to have that kind of freedom and what they were creating, I think was just it was fun for them. You know creating awesome stuff that can help the community and the world can also be fun,” Love said.
In August, Voices of Wisdom hosted a lyric and poetry workshop in nature at Oxbow Park with the Pacific Northwest Council of Water Protectors. Voices of Wisdom conducted a workshop for participants of all age groups during the Medicine Gathering.
The lyric and poetry workshop encouraged the young participants to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings, engage all their senses and reflect as they wrote. The workshop provided youth participants an opportunity to deepen their connection to nature, write creatively, practice their storytelling skills and feel confident in sharing aloud to the group.
“I feel 23% more confident. I normally only sing or rap in the shower,” said one of the teen participants at the end of the workshop.
During the lyric and poetry workshop, participants shared stories they had written after spending thirty minutes alone in nature, reflecting on their experiences.
The Future of Voices of Wisdom
Jessica Lagunas, Latino Studio Program Manager, said students who participated in the workshops at Kellogg and Reynolds middle schools expressed a strong desire for more similar experiences and opportunities. These students hoped for more educators with a professional arts background who could collaborate with other artists and teach them, allowing them to explore the broader world beyond their current horizons.
“Voices of Wisdom is creative self-expression that provides a vehicle for them to explore their personal truth and discover sense of purpose and place as valuable members of our community. Investing in youth gives opportunity for them to become leaders tomorrow looking towards solutions we all face,” Love said.
Hip-hop and art, in general, possess the potential to inspire and empower youth and help them channel the negative energy from adversity or trauma into positive creative outlets. In a world saturated with information and digital distractions, it can be challenging to envision oneself as a creator. However, initiatives like the Seven Visions program play a pivotal role in fostering a new sense of self-empowerment and nurturing self-esteem among its young participants.
“I could see myself being a director in terms of my career. Maybe I can be an actor, maybe I can be a producer. You can really take it wherever your mindsets you,” said Andres, a music video production workshop student.
Davis envisions the Seven Vision program to become a blueprint for the incorporation of music production and creativity in school programs. Programs like Seven Vision provide an environment for the younger generation to explore who they really want to be.
“If we believe in them or set up an environment where they can explore their potential, then I believe they'll step into it more. Or at least it will plant a seed for them to recognize their responsibility and their ability to give their gifts to the community,” Davis said.
Watch Seven Vision’s Voices of Wisdom: Youth Music Video Workshop
Watch Seven Vision’s Voices of Wisdom: Lyrics, Poetry + Recording Workshop