WRTI's NPR Live Sessions Video of the Week: Vocussionist Bethlehem Roberson's Song for Change

Aug 10, 2020

As America and the world reexamine race and equality, creatives are addressing these issues by producing art and music. NPR Music stations invited artists to join the the national discussion—and Philadelphia-based Vocussionist Bethlehem Roberson responded with her piece, "Evolution."

Written in conjunction with her Tarima—a percussive dance platform—Bethlehem's socially conscious message combines poetry, singing, and instumental music.

Music has been at the heart of Bethlehem's life from her earliest years when she would harmonize with family members. "I make music with my whole body. I use my voice, my hands, my feet, my legs—my entire body," explained Bethlehem. "From this expression, I came up with a term called 'vocussionist.' And more than a singer ... a vocussionist ... that's what I am."

Bethlehem made her radio debut on WRTI's The Bridge with Jazz Host and Live Sessions Executive Producer J. Michael Harrison. As word spread throughout the Delaware Valley about her unique talents, she found appreciative audiences in performances at TEDx Philadelphia, The Kimmel Center, Sistah's Attune, and the Philadelphia Jazz Project.

Watch vocussionist Bethlehem Roberson perform "Evolution" with Tauhida Smith and Jack Drummond on violin and Darien P. Ebo on percussion. This video was produced and recorded at WRTI 90.1 in Philadelphia.

Bethlehem speaks about her piece "Evolution" and how it's music for change here:

Watch more NPR Music Songs for Change videos here.