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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Shaw students overcome worries, create song in three days with Psalm One

Written by Cielo Contreras
Development Manager, Foundations and Corporations

Write and record a song in three days.

That was the challenge presented to the DC SCORES team at Shaw last week. The team is used to experiencing some crazy things. After all, Tony Hawk visited their school only two weeks before.

Team members were excited to learn they would be working with professional rapper and songwriter Psalm One, thanks to the ASCAP Songwriters Residency @ America SCORES. However, they were not sure how they could possibly write and record an entire song in such a short time.

Three days.

When Psalm One came to their classroom for the first time, she rapped for them and explained the process. Their first task was to choose a beat. She played some options and the team voted on their favorite.

When the beat was chosen, she asked students to write down words to describe how the beat made them feel and words about themselves that made them unique.

The next day, Psalm returned with lyrics she had put together using what the team had written. Now that they knew more about the process, the students were feeling a little more confident. Psalm asked for three volunteers to do solos for the song and worked with them while the rest of the team wrote out “shout outs” that would be part of the song’s “outro.”

The shout outs ranged from the usual (“Shout out to my mom for being there for me!”) to the slightly unusual (“Shout out to Einstein for making math!”) to the silly (“Shout out to my socks!”).

That’s the great thing about writing your own song. You can make it entirely your own.

On Day 3, the song was written and it was time to record. The team rode the bus to Blue House Studios — a professional recording studio! — in Kensington, Maryland. When they arrived, they were greeted by Psalm and a space filled with recording equipment, cameras and a stage. This was real.

The team worked diligently to record the chorus, the solos and the shout outs. If the students were nervous about stepping up to the mic, they barely showed it.

If I didn’t know better, I would have thought they were seasoned professionals.

When they finished recording, Psalm played the completed rough cut for Shaw’s poet-athletes, who couldn’t help but beam with pride at what they had accomplished.

Check out photos and a video from Shaw's ASCAP experience with Psalm One!

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