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Not The Only One - Revisiting Summer 2019

Black Square Whitman Song Quote

Last summer, the Philadelphia Jazz Project had the good fortune to work with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries' Kislak Center on the celebration of Walt Whitman's 200th birthday. We presented a series of walks, singing walks thru the streets of Philadelphia. Working with the creative team of Toby VEnT Martin, Waverly Alston and James Solomon to create new songs inspired by Whitman's poetry was a powerful experience, made even richer by the additional influence of Civil Rights era protest songs.


Whitman Mixtape Studio Views 10


All of these ideas challenged us and inspired us. The songs created were exhilarating and thought-provoking, while also being quite simple and easy to remember and perform. That said, one of the artists who participated in our walks, pianist, vocalist and bandleader, Erica Corbo also participated in the Black Lives Matter protests seeking justice for George Floyd. She mentioned how she had wished that she had brought along copies of these Whitman-inspired songs. If you have the time, we urge you to take a moment and take a look back at what we explored last summer. You can get more information below.


Until next time...

Be safe.

Be sane.

Spread the word, not the virus.



Whitman Sampler Mixtape Series #10

Whitman at 200: Art And Democracy, organized by the University of Pennsylvania Libraries Kislak Center, was a region-wide series of cultural events celebrating poet Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday in 2019. The project was initiated in conjunction with partner organizations across the Philadelphia and Camden, NJ region and major support for the artistic commissions was provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


As Whitman celebrated walking in poetry and life, artist/curator and director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project, Homer Jackson presented New Songs Of The Open Road: a special project consisting of a series of four audience participation eventsconsisting of singing walkers "caroling" through the streets of North Philadelphia, South Philadelphia, Center City and Germantown. These walks were simultaneously influenced by Whitman's poem, "Songs of the Open Road" and inspired by civil rights movement freedom songs. Exhilarating songs of affirmation, written and arranged by vocalist/songwriter Toby VEnT Martin, choirmaster and composer Waverly Alston and vocalist/songwriter James Solomon, featured the voices of professional singers, gospel choir members and everyday members of the public.


Whitman Mixtape Studio Views 10


The Walt Whitman Sampler Mixtape Series came about about as a way to document these songs, as well as the works and voices of local poets and musicians who have been inspired and influenced by the life and work of the 19th century, American poet, Walt Whitman. During a two-week residence at Spice House Sound, we recorded the amazing performances contained within this mixtape series. This mixtape series, which is available to the public as a free download, acknowledges his influential contribution to modern American expression and his challenge to our democracy.

Participating artists include...


Veronica Bowlan, ELLECT, Leonard Gontarek, Michelle Myers, Toby Vent Martin, Emily  Zeitlyn, Michael Andrews, Ana Maria Ruimonte, Keith DeStefano, Bismuth String Quartet, Paul Giess, Malik Henry and many others.


Whitman Mixtape Studio Views 6





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Major support for Whitman at 200: Art And Democracy artistic commissions has been provided to University of Pennsylvania Libraries by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.


The Waterman II Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation, following a recommendation of David Haas, has provided additional support for New Songs of the Open Road.


Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.

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Philadelphia Jazz Project is a sponsored project of the Culture Trust | Greater Philadelphia, with funding provided by The Philadelphia Foundation.