Musical Connection

Through the Hurford Humanities Center, Danielle Helme '10 spent the summer interning at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live and its nonprofit partner, LiveConnections.org.

As the West African band Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars played a concert at Philadelphia’s World Café Live, Danielle Helme ’10 couldn’t help but notice the motley audience enjoying the performance. “There were so many different types of people there— women in indigenous dress, women with motorcycle helmets, hipsters, and so much more,” she says. She was awed by the power of music to transcend cultural differences as “everyone danced, made fools of themselves, and didn’t care at all” about who was dancing next to them.

It was one of several performances that this anthropology major would enjoy as one of nine rising seniors sponsored by the Hurford Humanities Center to take on local internships related to careers in the humanities. Helme worked with World Café Live, a combined music venue and radio program affiliated with the public radio station 88.5 WXPN, and their nonprofit music education partner, LiveConnections.org.  Besides assisting at concerts, Helme   helped World Café Live with event planning for SummerJam, a benefit concert that happened on July 17.

However, her work with LiveConnections.org, a non profit organization still in the early stages of development, connected most directly to her personal interests.  “I am eager to learn about how to start and run an education nonprofit from the ground up since it is definitely a field I may go into after graduating college,”she says.

In addition to learning about grant proposal researching and writing, public relations, marketing, and fundraising, Helme discovered how music can creatively address the needs of underprivileged communities. LiveConnections.org stages events, which, she says, “range from bringing students and people with disabilities to World Café Live to learn about different types of music in an interactive way, to running workshops for musicians to learn how to market themselves.” A series the group calls “bridge sessions,” brings established musicians together with children in an experimental learning project, allowing children to play drums onstage, dance, and write their own raps.

Even though plans for the day camp that Helme was originally slated to work with fell through because of the economic crisis, she especially enjoyed sitting in on the bridge sessions that bring people with special needs to LiveConnection.org’s programs.  Helme sees music as “an expression of various cultures” and says, “I am really interested in education and helping people, and that is what LiveConnections.org is trying to do as well.”

—Nicole Gervasio, BMC ‘10