Although many have come to recognize the “Motown Sound” as a brand in itself, Motown’s records encompassed many genres of music, from early rhythm and blues to soul, funk and pop. A company brochure published in the early 1960s details Motown’s goal to “satisfy a variety of preferences in popular music.” Diversity has always been a key component of the Motown legacy.
In March 2017, to celebrate the rich musical tradition and diversity of the “Motown Sound,” VTA’s Education & Engagement Department began the Motown Music Project. The Motown Music Project was a four-week music education program created for area students to learn about the tradition of Motown and to provide them with an opportunity to perform at the Schuster Center before attending the Saturday matinee performance of MOTOWN THE MUSICAL.
In a study conducted by Girls, Inc., an astounding 60 percent of girls said they “experience stereotypes that limit their right to be themselves and to resist gender stereotypes.” That issue and others like it were explored in February 2016 in VTA’s education project, Superhero Girls Like Me, with students from Charity Adams Earley Academy for Girls. Superhero Girls Like Me created a correlation between today’s world through which young girls are navigating, the inspiring, historical women in the Dayton area, and the fantasy world of Cinderella where young women are traditionally seen stereotypically. Led by professional teaching artists, these young women devised and presented their own performance based on their experiences and personal views about how they fit into the world around them. The goal of this project was to inspire the girls of Charity Adams Earley, and provide them a safe space to explore experiences and challenges with identity, body image, self esteem, and leadership to develop a better understanding of their own potential.
One of our 2014-2015 projects, Radio Waves: Race, Rhythm & Rock ‘N’ Roll, spotlights the power of radio as an instrument for social change. Working with several community partners including Fairmont Career Tech Center (Fairmont High School, Kettering Public Schools), independent radio producer Will Davis, and WYSO,Radio Waves used the Broadway tour of Memphis the Musical as a starting point to explore the rise of race music on the radio waves in the 1950s and its influence on rhythm and blues, rock and roll, funk,and ultimately, the Civil Rights Movement in the Miami Valley.
Hear Fairmont Career Tech Center student’s Radio Waves stories at soundcloud.com/victoriatheatre.
Guitars: A Bridge to Broadway was created to bring together a burgeoning population of guitar enthusiasts, amateur and professional musicians, and Johnny Cash fans by using Million Dollar Quartet as the keystone to celebrate the guitar’s influence on Dayton’s strong musical roots. The four iconic figures of music in Million Dollar Quartet – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins – made their mark on American music. In turn, Million Dollar Quartet provided a unique avenue for Victoria Theatre Association to excite and engage community members who would otherwise not attend a Broadway performance.
Students from the Ponitz Career Technology Center (Dayton Public Schools) received specialized interview technique training and worked with the artists in that year’s Visual Voices 2015: Dayton Skyscrapers to record and edit interviews about their art. Hear their stories at soundcloud.com/victoriatheatre.
Featuring a concert with the Ohio Players, Visual Voices 2014: Visions of Dayton Funk challenged artists to create visual art that captures the essence and flavor of the Dayton funk sound. Students from the Ponitz Career Technology Center (Dayton Public Schools) trained with WYSO 91.3FM Community Voices radio project to record and edit interviews with the artists, musicians and others about the artists’ creative process and to provide a historical perspective on the Dayton funk movement. Hear their stories at soundcloud.com/victoriatheatre.