Harrison Center for the Arts uses music to connect youth to history of Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Harrison Center for the Arts is hoping music can help connect city youth with the story of historic Circle City neighborhoods.

The center’s program, a musical oriented tour dubbed “Hip-Hoperetta,” highlights historic buildings and landmarks in the Herron Morton and Old Northside neighborhoods, while also showcasing the contributions of the present day city, and African American culture.

“We started writing music about the neighborhoods about five years ago. Then Hamilton the musical came out and we thought ‘oh my goodness, we can be doing the history tours of the neighborhood to music,’” said Executive Director Joanna Taft.

Throughout the tours, QR codes designate the important landmarks and signal wireless headphones to play original songs written by various artists that highlight the landmarks’ importance. Joanna Taft says the purpose of the songs is to teach the youth the stories of where they’re from.

“I think all of us do really like stories. And history is a story. And when you combine that with music, and you make it really accessible, I think it really captures people’s hearts,” she said.

In 2017, Taft said more than 700 kids took the Hip-Hoperetta tours, she says say they plan on making new songs about other neighborhoods and city highlights in the near future. Volunteers say they hope the tours serve as a window into what was, and what can be.

To hear the original music from the Harrison Center’s Hip-Hoperetta, you can click here.

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