Alex Polydoroff - Bass, Production

The power of music to connect people of different cultures and facilitate authentic communication has intrigued me since my childhood in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Whether conversing in Spanish with Mexican landscapers, training on the tennis courts with the children of Hmong immigrants, or jamming with African musicians, I have been driven to understand diverse cultures and experience the beautiful humanity common to us all. Music, a universal language felt by all, has most effectively fostered this cross-cultural understanding I have sought throughout my life.  

I began singing and playing the bass guitar in elementary school, and continued my studies in jazz bass and vocal performance until my gap year studying abroad. While in Puebla, Mexico studying US-Mexico migration, I gained a keen sensitive awareness of the precarious experiences of global migrants, and later fostered a cultural understanding with Mexicans through music and Spanish. I continued my travels to Italy, where I volunteered in Sicilian youth migrant camps that housed unaccompanied African minors. After absorbing these kids’ heart-wrenching stories of leaving poverty-stricken homes, traveling thousands of miles across Africa, and finding passage on rickety boats across the Mediterranean Sea—at younger than 18 years of age—I became determined to help them tell their stories and raise empathetic awareness of their experiences. 

I found intercultural musical collaboration to be constructive for these young migrants to promote self-reflection, integrate with local community members, and amplify their voices and stories to larger audiences. Cross-cultural music-making can serve as a powerful example of how diverse people can come together and incorporate seemingly incompatible cultural differences into beautiful art—art that is innovative by virtue of its fresh cross-cultural collaboration. These collaborations allow us to reclaim some positive elements of globalization: being interconnected in networks of diverse artists, raising empathetic awareness of each other’s experiences, and creating from a basis of inventive integration of unique cultural characteristics. 

I kept these sentiments in mind and heart in my Anthropology and Music education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. During the summer of 2018, I was awarded a Burch Fellowship to record an album with the migrant youth with whom I had grown close over the previous three years. Throughout the following summer, I organized local musicians, prepared music with the migrant youth, and planned recording studio sessions to accomplish this dream of recording a professional album. In addition to recording a 10-track album of original music, Uprising Youth also performed two final concerts at “Moon” and “Fratelli Burgio al Porto” in Syracuse. On May 24, 2019, the One Humanity project will be released!