Jubilation Fellow Bobby Williams rapping with a student

Bobby Williams

Hip Hop Musician
Olympia WA
Fellowship: 2017

“Music is a tool to connect you with yourself, and with other people,” says Bobby. “I work with youth who have experienced major life challenges — foster care, homelessness, incarceration — and show them how music and writing can be an outlet.” 

Through his own hip hop music, Bobby has performed across the U.S., Mexico, and India. After college, he became a foster care case-aide, which is when he founded The Bridge Music Project. “I have always been passionate about songwriting and, with the help of a colleague, I began hosting weekly songwriting groups for foster kids. Many of them wrote about the traumas they had experienced, and I realized what a powerful coping tool these workshops were.”  

Since then, The Bridge has grown to serve at-risk youth across Thurston County, helping them write, produce, record, and perform their own original music. Results are obvious: the joie de vivre of participants, the standing-room-only community performances, and kids sign up, again and again. Bobby is respectful and compassionate. Mentorship Through Music is not just the Project’s tagline. It’s Bobby’s way of life.

Teaching philosophy:
“When I work with youth to develop their writing, I want them to connect with their inner voice, and create art they will be proud of. In any workshop I do, there has to be an environment where they feel accepted for who they are. Safe.”

How do you produce a vibrant learning environment?
“I set the tone. I bring the right energy. I’m passionate about the project and I believe in our youth.” That shines through and carries over into the way they interact with each other.

How do you foster youth leadership?
“I encourage our participants to mentor each other. Those who have been through the program before guide the newcomers. I also hire youth as staff to help with workshops, concerts, and other events.”

How have you evolved as a teacher?
“Over time I have become more patient and accepting, and that translates to how I teach. Rather than focusing on a few small things that aren’t perfect I’m able to pay attention to the overall mission. If they are having a good time and growing as artists we’re doing what we need to do.”

What is an example of a good day?
“When I see a young person try something new that was originally intimidating. When they are able to accomplish something they thought they couldn’t.”

Links: www.BridgeMusicProject.org

The Bridge Mentorship Through Music

The Bridge at The Thurston County Juvenile Detention Center

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