At Thea’s

Thea's Group Photo TSPI’ve continuously received the gift of witnessing and being welcomed into the warmth, love and family created and sustained by the women at Thea Bowman Women’s Center in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is palpable and sacred, and it affirms my belief in the brightness of light that lives alongside the reality of struggles and oppression from experiencing multiple layers of trauma and poverty. One day I arrived at the center, and after announcements, before starting group, the women took some time apologizing and forgiving one another for hurts from the previous day. No one twisted their arms or told them they had to spend ten minutes confessing how their actions hurt the other community members the day before, but one woman after another humbly spoke up and received the listening, support and forgiveness of the others. I was moved by the vulnerability and resilience present and alive in the room, and reminded that bringing songwriting into homes such as Thea’s as an avenue for healing and recovery is as much a gift for me as for the women I’m walking alongside through the process.

The women were asked, “What knowings and/or wisdoms do we have for getting through the hard times, that we might share with others who are experiencing a similar hard time?” We spent nine weeks together answering this question while also discussing the music they love, exploring how those songs are crafted, and trying to apply some of those learnings to the song being written!

Here is their response, through the lyrics to their song:

Everyone has a past
Each different in many ways
Heart and mind free at last
To try new things in a new day

Please take the time to listen for life strength and cure
For the cure of life is knowing we’re not alone
We’re fighting for a reason
There’s hope faith and love
We know the road is tough but we’re not walking alone

You have to live to learn
Make mistakes to have what it takes
To fight the system that never gives us a break
I know it’s hard but we have what it takes

Please take the time to listen for life strength and cure
For the cure of life is knowing we’re not alone
We’re fighting for a reason
There’s hope faith and love
We know the road is tough but we’re not walking alone

We’re fighting to free ourselves from madness
To not be empty shells
Fighting for our children
So that generations can prevail
We’re fighting to see another day
Fighting to get to a better place
We learn lessons along the way
We achieve greatness every day

Please take the time to listen for life strength and cure
For the cure of life is knowing we’re not alone
We’re fighting for a reason
There’s hope faith and love
We know the road is tough but we’re not walking alone

Please take the time to listen for life strength and cure
For the cure of life is knowing we’re not alone
We’re fighting for a reason
There’s hope faith and love
We know the road is tough but we’re not walking alone

To listen to the live recording of the song click here!

I like to think of songwriting as an act of resistance against the silencing and shaming voices that can sometimes come with the struggles of addition, poverty and violence. This active resistance through songwriting is something these women are choosing to do, to share and create awareness among themselves and within the larger communities we all walk in. The hope is that through the process of telling their stories in song form, their values will be highlighted and they’ll see the wisdoms and strengths they’ve collected through their journeys, alongside the struggles and hardships. And maybe, they will share a message of wisdom, strength, hope and healing with other women in their community and beyond.

Quotes from the women of Thea’s:

[The songwriting group] helps keep our minds working. Shows us that we can do anything we put our minds to.”

“Very therapeutic, I would love for it to stay.”

“What I like about the song project is that it makes us use our minds in a creative way… The group is fun and exciting. I enjoy it.”

If you’d like to make a contribution to continue The SONG Project’s programming at Thea’s, you can Donate Here! (The SONG Project is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purpose of The SONG Project must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” and are tax- deductible to the extent permitted by law.)

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