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DAVIS, Jason

 

PhD in Music, McGill University

Jason Davis is a musician and environmental educator dedicated to communicating environmental change through sound. In 2016 Jason composed and recorded two pieces which integrate the recorded voices of indigenous and non-indigenous Alaska residents speaking about their personal and community observations of and responses to climate change. As the director of Climate Stories Project, he worked with high school students in Shishmaref, Alaska, an Iñupiat village on the shores of the Chukchi Sea that is being devastated by coastal erosion caused by the loss of sea ice. The Shishmaref students learned how to talk about their own observations of climate change and then interviewed and recorded community elders speaking about their reflections of how climate change has drastically impacted their village. Jason then used excerpts from these interviews in the composition, performance, and recording of John Sinnok and Resting Storm, two pieces performed by his jazz and world music group Earthsound. Jason is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Music at McGill University in Montreal, where he is focused on creating original music which incorporates spoken narratives about environmental change.

Illustrating Contemporary Climate Change through Oral History Music

I am illustrating contemporary climate change by writing and performing original music that features the recorded voices of interviewees speaking about their personal responses to global warming. Myself, and students who take part in Climate Stories Project workshops, are recording "climate change oral histories" of Indigenous elders, farmers, and scientists, among other respondents. I use excerpts of these oral histories to write, perform, and record my music pieces. Rather than framing climate change as a scientific abstraction or a political battlefield, the project encourages listeners to engage with the changing climate as a human and ecological story. Listeners empathize with the speakers and link their own observations of and responses to climate change to the stories they hear in the music. An important goal of the project is to expand the field of "environmental oral history" to encompass people's spoken responses to contemporary climate change and facilitate greater community dialogue about this pressing issue.

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Concordia University