Nancy Dupree Ghetto Reality Album Cover

Please take a moment to read this fantastic article from Chris Taylor of The Guardian on music educator Nancy Dupree and the progressive and transformative work she was doing while teaching in Rochester, NY in the late 60’s and early 70’s.

After reading this article that hit the inbox last night I was moved to write a few words. As a few of you may know I’ve spent a good percentage of my adult life working with young people both inside and outside of the public school system and this story here just floored me.

Everyone needs validation. Validation is the green leafy vegetable for the psyche. Who determines our heroes? Our inspiration? Maybe I don’t need Shakespeare, maybe I need Baldwin. Maybe I don’t need Bach, maybe I need Brown. Dunbar before Whitman.

It’s not that I’m advocating that children are not intimately acquainted with these other heroes but what I am suggesting is that if we can establish a firm sense of self in groups who traditionally may not have them then… well then we are well equipped, open, head held high and ready to understand where others are coming from because we know from whence we’ve come. That’s job one: a name, a connection, a purpose.

Nancy Dupree be it known that this musician salutes your memory, your legacy and your concern for children. Your courage and progressive educational thought from your body of work truly shows that you understood the way to empowering students is through a higher sense of self. Music is not only the message it is the method.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.