black american musicians playing side of building

Culture Bearer Pathways

Grown folks program

A culture bearer is a person who is deeply rooted in the layers of their heritage, to the degree that they are confident in transmitting the eligible parts of their culture to others.

With this program, we seek to encourage self-guided and self-paced learning; the Culture Bearer Pathway (CBP) is not bound to an already established, formal, gate-kept curriculum, which means that we hope you will follow the threads that excite you! This concept was developed with the intention of honoring the creative scholar in each of us, understanding that education does not need to look one specific way to be legitimate.

The vision for this program is that it will eventually include pathways for many dimensions of one’s heritage; our first two programs are Indigenous Music and Black American Music. These resources introduce learners to Indigenous traditions that existed (and are still thriving!) on Turtle Island long before settler colonialism began here, and they go on to explore the ways in which contributions of Black Americans are foundational to the development of America’s cultural and economic identity.

These are DIY curricula, meaning we provide a collection of resources for each theme (articles, podcasts, videos, books and audio), but our hope is that you’ll be inspired to dig deeper into the things that you find compelling, and create a learning path that really resonates for you.

indigenous woman standing in front of wall with artwork

Indigenous Music

In 2023, The Rhapsody Project was awarded a grant to fund the development of an Indigenous Music Culture Bearer Pathways program, and we are proud to present this new chapter of the CBP! Inspired by the Black American Music program, Sondra Segundo adapted that format to illuminate stories of Indigenous culture, music and musicians. This installment includes 6 chapters of material including the following topics:

  • Indigenous/Native American/American Indian Timeline

  • Traditional Songs

  • Indigenized Gospel Music

  • Contemporary Indigenous Music: The 20th Century

  • Contemporary Indigenous Music: The 21st Century

  • The Power of Representation in Media

african american man playing the violin

"I love the resource packets! Super comprehensive, lots of directions to explore and different ways to engage. Really appreciate the mix of articles, audio & video."

2022 CBP Participant

Black American Music (1619 - 1940​​)

The pilot program for this resource ran via Patreon for the entirety of 2022, meeting once or twice a month (virtually) to engage with culture bearers and discuss what they were learning with the group.

The resource packets are now available for DIY study, and they include links to videos from the 2022 cohort—so you’ll get a chance to listen in on the conversations that the inaugural cohort had as well as hearing directly from the 2022 culture bearers!

Volume 1:

  • Work Songs & Spirituals

  • Black String Bands

  • Minstrelsy

  • Cowboys, Folk Songs & Songsters

  • Country Blues

  • Classic Blues

Volume 2:

  • Jug Bands

  • Ragtime

  • Gospel Quartets

  • Creole Music

  • Electric Blues

  • Rest is Resistance

Other tRp programs

rhapsody songsters with resonator guitar
guitar head in green wood texture circle

Layers of Heritage

Interwoven with music lessons students learn new ways to understand themselves as people of culture.

old photos of black American musicians in black and white
guitar head in green wood texture circle

Face the Music

Virtual class for those who want to discover new ways to confront racism through the lens of roots music.

Klezmer Jam players sitting in a circle playing music
violin in red wood texture circle

Yiddish Music & Heritage

Immerse yourself in the expressive heritage of Yiddish music.