Al Día: Philly’s Hill-Freedman World Academy student-musicians release fifth album, ‘Love & Healing’

On Friday, Jan. 14, student-artists from Philly’s Hill-Freedman World Academy (HFWA) released their fifth album through the school’s own record label, Hill-Freedman Records.

Hill-Freedman Records released Love & Healing this past Friday. The new album features a whopping 32 original songs from the student-musicians.

The album explores and celebrates the lives and legacies of musical legends who have passed in the past few years, such as Aretha Franklin and Little Richard.

The title comes from the student’s reactions to times of turbulence.

Hill-Freedman Records launched in 2016 through a partnership with World Cafe Live, founded by HFWA music technology teacher Ezechial Thurman. The record label and recording studio is student-run.

Love & Healing was made as a central component of the school’s IB Design / Music Technology curriculum for HFWA’s International Baccalaureate Programme.

Recorded during the 2020-21 school year, the project hopes to highlight the student’s perspective on the challenges of the past two years, amplify music’s ability to heal, and uphold a sense of community.

The album’s credits include the student-artists themselves — now eleventh graders — eight student producers, school leadership, and artists from Philly’s own World Cafe Live.

Included in the album’s production were also fellows from both the national service initiative, ArtistYear, and WHYY Media Labs.

Recorded throughout the pandemic, during the 2020-21 school year, the album’s creation was completed almost entirely online.

World Cafe Live teaching artist Andrew Lipke was fearful the project would not be possible from remote workspaces, but soon saw otherwise when reminded of the innovation and grit of HFWA student-artists.

“As we began, the idea of collaborating with a brand-new group of students in an entirely virtual environment, and I mean all of it–lyric-writing, music creation, song structure, production–was quite a daunting prospect… But once again, the dedication, creativity and hard work the students brought to the project blew me away,” said Lipke.

This past December, Hill-Freedman Records released a music video for the album’s title track, “Love & Healing.”

The music video was created in collaboration with World Cafe Live and Philadelphia civic and sports leaders.

Involved leaders included the Philadelphia Eagles’ Avonte Maddox, Jordan Mailata, and Rodney McLeod, U.S. Rep. Dwight Evans, PA State Rep. Chris Rabb and City Council members Cherelle L. Parker and Derek Green.

Grammy Nominee & Girls’ High graduate Kristal “Tytewriter” Oliver, songwriter Bethlehem the Vocussionist, WHYY’s Sam Dellert, and ArtistYear fellows Matt Evans and Anna Sudderth also

Love & Healing is out now through Hill-Freedman Records, available for streaming.