Let The Strings Speak, a community outreach project presents opportunities for music and education. Yearly events at Seattle’s Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, along with educational “pop-up” sessions provide opportunities to experience African American culture and history through the sound of string instruments. We believe the strings tell a story of unity that creates a model for what we hope to see in our diverse communities.
Contained within this diversity is an intergenerational audience who receive the benefit of supporting and being supported by a feeling of collaboration. Our participating Black and Brown youth experience mentoring through the care of artistic directors Mona Terry and Lesa Terry, who bring their own culture and diverse backgrounds to the mix. It also excites us to partner with local and international artists who align with our goals and bring their exceptional gifts.
All are welcome to this anticipated event!
Mona and Lesa Terry were exposed early to classical music and this led to their becoming successful professional musicians. However, they were not satisfied with mastering their instruments and playing professionally – they wanted more. Not for themselves, but others. Unlike their upbringing with parents who provided opportunities to develop their musical interests, most black and brown children are not exposed to string instruments. Mona and Lesa sought to do something about this and along with mentor, Dr. Maxine Mimms, began the process to create a vehicle for greater exposure to the cultural arts within the African American community.
Founded on July 22, 2016, Let The Strings Speak launched an immersive musical experience with seasoned professionals and urban youth, exploring, learning and performing music from the Pan African world.
In 2017, Let The Strings Speak UNITY; The Intimacy of Collaboration featured 24 youth from Atlantic Street Center, a choir of harps, jazz violin renderings, guest vocalists and a professional rhythm section. Activities included several workshops/rehearsals for the youth, as well as a final presentation at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute in front of 180 audience members.
To a sold out audience, the 2018 season brought opportunities for mentorship with cellist, Adrian Smith, ballerina, Renee Williams, spoken word artist, John Hargrave, tap dancers, Olu Dixon and Eyoub Embris, and Ebube African Dancers. Let The Strings Speak, Dance, and Shout witnessed from the youth the power of supporting their talent and development, growth of character, the positive results of a strong work ethic, how to manage adversity, and the joy received from a successful performance and interaction.
Key to the concert performance was special guest artist, India Aire who brought a heightened level of professionalism through her soul stirring song selections. This created a greater opportunity for the community to experience new levels of intimacy through the cultural arts.
Additionally, “Pop-Up” sessions were initiated with First Place Early Learning Center. Let The Strings Speak successfully structured and demonstrated an intimate experience with string instruments by utilizing puppets, story telling, and supporting songs. The youth received the benefit of being guided by experienced professionals who ethnically mirror the youth as Black and Brown people.