Collaboration Project: AMP band and Pepe Raphael

April 6, 2018
Luke Hall

My Voice Music pairs local bands and artists with our students to write and record original music in two short sessions. As part of MVM’s ongoing Collaboration Project, we will highlight a new session every month.

For the majority of our collaborations thus far we have not imposed a framework around the song(s) to be written (i.e. “try to write something dark and moody” or “pretend you’re writing a piece for a movie that’s set in the year 3050”). This time around, however, there was a clear vision: compose a song in a Spanish style with none other than Pepe Raphael. Ok, sounds good. But wait! This song will not only be written and recorded in the humble confines of MVM Studios, but performed at a Spanish food festival, La Ruta, in front of hundreds of festival-goers. Ok…no pressure, right?

Given that no one in the AMP band had experience with Spanish music, there was a bit of apprehension and nervousness as it became clear that they couldn’t lean on their immediate experiences, musically and personally, to craft this new song. Pepe was tasked with helping to write a new song while simultaneously teaching the group to write and play in the style of rumba.

What a challenge! After overcoming the initial surprise of playing music in a new rhythm and feel, the band came together and got comfortable. Here’s the result:

“Working with these young kids reminded me that you can study technique and learn theory and everything else in between, but you cannot study heart.


I enjoyed the lack of fear or doubt on most of them and the willingness to take risks. They are very very smart kids. The environment feels safe and reassuring and they are very cautious revealing themselves and opening up right away which I think it’s very appropriate and well executed on their part. It was a wonderful and inspiring lesson for me. I hope we get to collaborate in the future soon.” – Pepe Raphael

Music creation is a vulnerable process on one’s own. Add in a mix of folks who don’t know each other across a wide spectrum of age and musical experience, and it can seem daunting. At every collaboration session we’ve facilitated so far, though, we’ve witnessed the shared love of music and creative expression set ideas in motion and bring people together to create not only new art, but lasting memories and life lessons.

Thank you to Pepe for your participation in this project and your mentorship of our students!

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