Walking up to strangers and asking to record their life story as lyrics seems like odd homework, but not to Trey Flores, senior music composition major from Waco. Threads of disconnected stories weave together into common themes of underrepresentation in classrooms, isolation and a diverse culture as students give Flores a glimpse into what the Black college experience means to them at SFA, a predominantly white institution.
A simple school project for the class MUTC 4175 Special Problems quickly transformed into something much more powerful for Flores. He took up the challenge to create an organized set of six musical pieces documenting the Black college experience from 25 detailed interviews.
Flores said that after every interview, he would always ask the interviewee how they felt.
“They would always have this sense of relief and [they just felt] good to let everything they said out,” Flores said. “Some of [the responses] were pretty jarring, while others were more or less expected because I am a Black student, so I get what it’s like, but I don’t [understand] all the time because there’s just so many different kinds of people.”
DaQuan Allen, Black Student Caucus executive board member and senior creative writing major from Dallas, said students and organizations will identify with Flores’ pieces, and the music will help organizations rebuild a foundation of unity.
“I feel like they will be like, ‘I have a family here, and I can relate to what’s going on and I know that because I’m not the only one that feels this way. We can work to make it better,’” Allen said.
The interviews were supplemented by a Google Form, which was sent out to Black organization leaders, like Allen, to be dispersed for a wider perspective.
Flores has written music from interviews before. His website features a piece called “Everard,” which is about a woman’s experience with misogyny. "Everard” premiered at the 2021 Fresh Inc. Music Festival and was performed in the festival’s digital platform.
“[Creating ‘Everard’] was really eye-opening to me because I myself am not a woman, so I don’t have that perspective,” Flores said. “What I had to do was go around and ask all these people to give me their perspective about all these questions I’d laid out for them, and it was really a beautiful experience. I loved it. That really set me on the path to do this, and this is really more personal to me.”
He said he likes his work to be meaningful and to say something to the listener.
“It is for a grade, but it’s kind of moved past that. There’s a lot more to it now,” Flores said.
Flores has reached out to musicians and other team members who are willing to help Flores achieve his goal.
Jay Teamer, senior music education major from Lewisville, said it’s always good to have a strong support system for big projects like this.
“[Flores] has some people in his corner who are really [here] for him, so I’m just hoping he goes all the way for it,” Teamer said.
The pieces about the Black college experience are still being constructed, but Flores said he plans to base each of the six pieces on a different Black genre of music such as jazz, hip-hop, R&B, soul and gospel.
The collection will be performed at the Spring Convocation with the Black Student Caucus.