by Len Lear
Two members of Project Voice, a unique team of highly accomplished writers, performers and educators who have worked directly with over 150,000 students from kindergarten through university level schools and venues in over 25 countries and have been spotlighted on TED, CNN, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, AOL, Education Week, and countless other publications will perform at Woodmere Art Museum in connection with Springside/Chestnut Hill Academy (SCH) on Thursday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m.
Project Voice members have published Amazon best sellers, been nominated for Pushcart Prizes, been featured on radio and TV and had their poetry published in numerous literary journals, magazines and anthologies. The two members visiting Chestnut Hill will be poets Phil Kay and Elizabeth Acevedo. This event is free, but it requires a ticket in advance due to limited seating at Woodmere.
“We’ve had the honor of performing around the world,” Kay told us last week. “One of my personal favorite performances was just a few years ago, back in my hometown in California. I got to look around a packed theater and see former English teachers, childhood play dates and family friends who would pick me up from carpool before I could make full sentences.”
Project Voice team members have performed for hundreds of audiences from National Poetry Slam stages to TED Conferences, HBO television, NPR and Lincoln Center. Videos of their performances have been viewed millions of times online. They have performed in thousand-seat amphitheaters, late-night dive bars, high school gymnasiums, university auditoriums and everything in between.
They have earned degrees in education, mentored students of all ages, taught in hundreds of classrooms and communities around the world, led professional development workshops with educators, been interviewed and featured in education publications, and been featured presenters at numerous education conferences.
“We strive to give students the tools to express themselves in a way that is authentic, powerful and helpful to both themselves and their community,” Kaye said. “We have performed live and taught workshops in Singapore, Australia, Italy, The Philippines and Nepal, just to name a few! I feel incredibly lucky to get to travel around the world and spend time with different communities sharing art. And I’m incredibly excited to make it out to Chestnut Hill!”
Project Voice was at SCH’s Head of School Steve Druggan’s former school, Jakarta International School in Indonesia, and he is responsible for bringing them to Chestnut Hill. “If your school values inquiry, authenticity, high expectations and fun, I could not recommend any opportunity more (then to see Project Voice),” said Druggan. “They connected with our uber-diverse community like few others. After two weeks (of performances and workshops), all I was asked was, ‘When are they coming back?’”
According to John Higgins, Principal at Meadville Area Senior High School (in Crawford County, western Pennsylvania), “I’ve been the principal here for 16 years, and the visit (by Project Voice) was simply the best assembly I’ve ever seen. I have never seen the kids so focused.”
A Project Voice performance not only entertains but also inspires and encourages students to create their own work. They use spoken word poetry as a tool for engagement, empowerment and community-building.
Phil Kaye, who will perform at Woodmere, was invited to perform alongside His Holiness, The Dalai Lama, for the occasion of his 80th birthday. Phil is a former teacher of weekly workshops in maximum security prisons and head coordinator of SPACE, a prison arts program. “A Light Bulb Symphony,” Phil’s first collection of poetry, was published in 2011.
Elizabeth Acevedo, who will also perform at Woodmere, is the daughter of Dominican immigrants. She has two collections of poetry, and “The Poet X” (HarperCollins, 2018) is her debut Young Adult novel.
For more information, visit www.woodmereartmuseum.org or www.projectvoice.co.