“Ruby Bridges, Ruby B”: Debut single from Woodson School

From Amy Lowe, the teaching artist who inspired the student song “Zoologist” (an Urban Gateways office favorite), comes a new track that will prompt you to marvel at Amy’s lovely voice and chuckle at the energy of her background musicians. They are a chorus of singers from Woodson School in Washington Park.

The participants in Amy’s music/drama residency were 3rd and 4th graders, and the residency was integrated with their social studies classes. Amy and her students looked at different African American artists, dancers, musicians, educators and pioneers who shaped American history and culture. Amy’s three classes each focused on different projects:

— Class 1 read “Rap A Tap Tap: Here’s Bojangles-Think of That!” by Leo Diane Dillon. Then they watched short video clips of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson dancing and wrote their own pieces about “Bojangles.” Amy helped them put the pieces together to create a blues song that told Bojangles’ story in their own words. (Tapping down the street was a man named Billy / he was so good it made the crowd go silly.)

— Class 2 watched short video clips about the history of jazz and read the poem “Easy Boogie” by Langston Hughes to see how writers have conveyed jazz music. Finally, they created their own poem as a class and turned it into a “Jazz chant” that they practiced together, allowing them to get dramatic while also learning about musical history.

— Class 3 read the story of activist Ruby Bridges and wrote a song about her achievements.

“RUBY BRIDGES” (click to listen)

(Check out lyrics at the bottom of this page.)

Clearly these students gained new knowledge about African American history, but another major impact was the opportunity for students with musical talent to stand out and dream big.

During her residency, Amy met “a very gifted young singer. He was in the 6th grade and came to support the 4th graders. After watching me, he took the lead in guiding the other students in their performance. His talent stood out. I was able to connect to him as a mentor. We discussed his dreams and aspirations. He said that he had not written a song yet. He didn’t think he was good enough and didn’t know what to write about. We talked about inspiration, writing, getting started, etc. He left the conversation with a new determination.”

(Photos of Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, Langston Hughes, Ruby Bridges)

“RUBY BRIDGES” Song and Lyrics by Amy Lowe and Woodson Students

Was it her destiny? Was it her fate? (echo) She had good thoughts. She taught us a lot (echo) She led us away, away from hate (echo) Helped people come together in her very own way. (echo) Ruby Bridges, Ruby B (echo)

She was born in a cabin (echo) It was very, very tiny (echo) Not much to eat ( echo)

When she was four (echo) Her daddy lost his job (echo) He was picking crops (echo) But he had to leave (echo) He had to stop (echo) They brought in machines (echo) Machines for picking crops (echo)

Was it her destiny? Was it her fate? (echo) She had good thoughts.She taught us a lot (echo) She led us away, away from hate (echo) Helped people come together in her very own way (echo) Helped people come together in her very own way (echo)

Ruby bridges taught us a lot!!!!!

Thanks to Kinder Morgan for sponsoring residencies like Amy’s!