At Boston Music Project, music creation and community impact are two driving forces for our work as a creative youth development non-profit. For the past four months, BMP student musicians at the McKinley Schools, part of Boston Public Schools, produced an original digital music album entitled, "Amplify: Boston," inspired by Rob "Problak" Gibbs "Breathe Life Together" mural on The Rose Kennedy Greenway.
BMP digital music teaching artists, Josh Wareham and Scott Ziegler guided this work with our students. Local hip-hop artist, educator, and community organizer Paul Willis was a visiting teaching artist who led a series of workshops on creative writing for McKinley youth. Special thanks to The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy staff Audrey Lopez and Keelin Caldwell for their support of this project. Special thanks to Derrick Winston, Cindie Nielson, Brendan Case, Frank Scott, and the entire McKinley School Community!
We invite you to enjoy this album as you explore The Greenway's inspiring art and green spaces in the heart of downtown Boston. Scroll down to see highlights from this project!
Visiting with ProBlak and Audrey Lopez, Director and Curator of Public Art for the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.
In the studio with McKinley students, Josh Wareham, and Paul Willis
Debut Performance for the BMP Block Party on The Rose Kennedy Greenway
About the Artists
Rob ‘Problak’ Gibbs
Rob “ProBlak” Gibbs is a visual artist and organizer who has transformed the cultural landscape of Boston through graffiti art since 1991.
Growing up in Roxbury during the Hip-Hop Golden Age, ProBlak saw the power of graffiti as a form of self-expression. Graffiti became a tool for him, and others in his community, to chronicle and immortalize their culture and history. For ProBlak, graffiti acts as a contemporary form of hieroglyphs, a way to document and pay homage to underserved, underhead communities in the city. His vision — to beautify the predominantly black and brown communities of Boston — is a driving force behind his artistic practice.
Beyond artistic practice, ProBlak envisioned graffiti and hip-hop as avenues to reach and educate the youth of the city. In 1991, he co-founded Artists For Humanity, an arts non-profit that hires and teaches youth creative skills, ranging from painting to screen printing to 3-D model making. For the past 29 years, ProBlak has mentored and guided countless youth at AFH as they set sail on their artistic endeavors. He’s proud to continue his work as AFH’s Paint Studio Director.
With a strong focus on arts education, ProBlak has conducted mentoring workshops for Girls, Inc., The Boston Foundation, Boston Housing Authority, and Youth Build, Washington, DC. He served as a guest lecturer at Northeastern University for their “Foundations of Black Culture: Hip-Hop” course. He was the curator for BAMS Fest’s “Rep Your City” exhibition in 2019.
ProBlak is the recipient of a number of awards, including the 2006 Graffiti Artist of the Year award from the Mass Industry Committee and the Goodnight Initiative’s Civic Artist Award. In 2020, he was honored with the Hero Among Us award by the Celtics, Boston’s NBA team and he was featured in a segment on NBC. His work has been covered in publications like 90.9 WBUR, the Boston Art Review, Boston Magazine, the Bay State Banner and the Boston Globe.
Josh Wareham is a versatile Boston-based violist and music producer. He has performed in concerts and music festivals around the world, including with the JACK Quartet, SoundLAB, Palaver Strings, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, Lucerne Festival Alumni, and Albany Symphony.
As a producer, he has worked on content for organizations such as Shelter Music Boston, Aston Magna Music Festival, and the Boston Music Project. His debut solo album, "Chances" was released in 2020 and can be heard on all major music streaming platforms along with his other collaborative projects.
Josh holds a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College.
Scott Ziegler is a producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and educator. Scott grew up in
a small town north of Boston before moving to Philadelphia in 2009 to pursue a degree in jazz studies at the University of the Arts. Scott is the bass player and music director of the band ILL DOOTS. In addition to a large recording output, the band has toured the US performing and teaching songwriting workshops, as well as composing and performing in theater. In addition to his continued work with ILL DOOTS, Scott produces music for other artists and mediums such as film, podcasts, and interactive exhibits. Scott taught songwriting/production at the Village of Arts and Humanities in North Philadelphia from 2015 until relocating to the Boston area in the fall of 2019 where he now runs the Music Clubhouse program at the Lawrence YMCA. Most recently Scott has joined the team at Boston Music Project teaching music in collaboration with social studies and english language arts at the McKinley South End Academy.
Returning home to Boston after a decade in Sacramento, CA, Paul Willis is a hip-hop/spoken word artist and diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant. Willis’ career highlights as a creative professional with ties to youth-focused and social justice nonprofits include starting up City Year Sacramento, leading programming for MLK365, providing leadership and executive coaching for the Nehemiah Emerging Leaders Program, teaching Hip Hop leadership workshops in the juvenile hall, serving on multiple nonprofit boards and more - all while releasing 11+ music projects in a ten-year span. Most recently, Paul Willis won the 2021 BAMS Fest Verses or Vibes competition and re-released a Teacher’s Edition of his Wonderland album and film in June 2022. Excited to be starting over with experience, Willis' 16-year professional career in the arts, education, leadership development, and social justice-driven organizations has provided Paul with a unique lens to see the world and shape it.