Chestnut Hill College recently celebrated the grand opening of the Beatlab — an on-campus music studio where students can produce beats, songs and messages of social justice.
The College hosted the opening of the Beatlab on Dec. 6 in St. Joseph Hall’s Music Corridor. The event featured a talk by its creator, Jeffrey Carroll, Ph.D., an assistant professor of political science at the College. Following Carroll’s talk, Edward Onaci, Ph.D., an assistant professor of history from Ursinus College, delivered a speech, as did the president of Beatlab, Joseph Nash, and Juliana Mosley, Ph.D., the College’s officer for Diversity and Inclusion. To close the night, students, collectively known as the “Beat Squad,” debuted their original music for the audience. CBS 3 Philly and other news outlets were on campus to cover the event.
The creation of Beatlab was made possible through a grant the College received from the Maguire Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting education in the arts and humanities and alleviating hunger and homelessness. Carroll collaborated with the foundation to develop a project devoted to social justice that used hip-hop as the medium through which students channeled their creativity and voice.
“The Beatlab is a safe space for expression and self-exploration, a backbone of hip-hop culture and something crucial to the development of thoughtful citizens,” Carroll said. “Students’ creative synergies with like-minded others drive them to tackle difficult subjects and consider how their own lives are connected to the broader communities in which they live.”
In his talk, Carroll outlined his love of music, which began when he was a child. His relationship with hip-hop in particular has had a tremendous impact on his life, and over the years he has witnessed the positive influence it has had on the lives of others, too. Since its inception, the genre has given African Americans and people of color the power to discuss social issues and realities unique to their identities and cultures.
“This is particularly crucial for youth whose voices are often unacknowledged and, in many cases, suppressed,” Carroll said.
Carroll said he could not have made the Beatlab a reality without the support of the College. In particular, Carroll thanked Kathleen McCloskey, SSJ, M.M.Ed., an assistant professor of music and chair of the music department at the College; Cecelia J. Cavanaugh, SSJ, Ph.D., dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies; and Susannah Coleman, vice president of the Office of Institutional Advancement.
When Carroll first brought the idea of the Beatlab to Sister Kathleen and Sister Cecelia, he said they told him to “make some noise.”
With the establishment of the Beatlab, Chestnut Hill College students now have a unique, state-of-the-art outlet to channel their voice and creativity, which Carroll believes will prove invaluable to their growth as individuals, students and members of society.
“Digital spaces are important places where people can meet, think and create,” Carroll said. “Providing digital spaces that are ‘safe’ provides a freedom of expression without the academic rigidity of the traditional classroom.”
To listen to the Beatlab's first album, "Mics Ain't Free," visit www.micsaintfree.com.