Blind Youth Audio Project 2019

For this year’s project we hosted students from SKILLS Seattle and SKILLS Mount Vernon, as well as YES 1 and YES 2 students at Jack Straw Studios.


SKILLS students from Mt. Vernon came to Jack Straw for a workshop with musician Salome MC. The group wrote and recorded an original composition based on the themes of challenges of blindness and things they would like others to know about them.


To start this year’s program, YES 1 students came to Jack Straw for an afternoon of music and speech with musicians Jessica Lurie and Salome MC. Students split into two groups to write and record original compositions around the theme of common misconceptions of blindness.


On the first night of the YES 2 program, students participated in an evening of flash dramas to create “Eye Contact” and two versions of “Handshake Translator,” working in both of our studios and our New Media Gallery.

Over the following weeks, the YES 2 students worked with Jack Straw teaching artists to write and record original music and radio drama in the Jack Straw studios. Musicians Bill Horist and Jessica Lurie collaborated with one group of students to write and produce an original song, “My Cane Is My North Star.” Writer Jesse Minkert, vocal coach Alyssa Keene, and engineer Daniel Guenther worked with the drama group to create an original radio play, “Age Is Just a Number.”

The Blind Youth Audio Project 2019 was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center and Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind, and the Washington State School for the Blind. Special thanks to the Rodrigues Fund, Jubilation Foundation of the Tides Foundation, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4culture King County Lodging Tax Fund, Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, and individual contributors for their generous support.

Our production team included Jack Straw audio engineers Daniel Guenther, Joel Maddox, and Ayesha Ubayatilaka; production interns Connor Wang, Ben Campion, and Sebastian Pallaisaks; writer and drama coach Jesse Minkert; vocal coaches Alyssa Keene, Kate Myre, Richard Sloniker, and Katya Landau; musicians Bill Horist, Jessica Lurie, and Salome MC; photographer Sherwin Eng; video producer Lisa Waagd; web designer Levi Fuller; and Executive Director Joan Rabinowitz.

Special thanks to Janet George with the Washington State Department of Services for the Blind and YES 2 staff members; Washington State School for the Blind with YES 1 staff members Marcie Ebarb, Michelle Doherty, Paul Baldwin, Boni Moran, and Jeff Bowler; Zac Small and Johanna Tracy, Mount Vernon School District and SKILLS Mount Vernon; and Jesse Minkert with Arts and Visually Impaired Audiences.

This program was provided in part under a contract with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.



Bill Horist sitting, holding an electric bass, looking at a student playing electric guitar

Bill Horist

Seattle-based guitarist Bill Horist has played on dozens of records and has performed throughout North and Central America, Europe and Japan; collaborating with numerous leading lights in a beguiling…

Jessica Lurie in profile, playing flute and wearing headphones

Jessica Lurie

Seattle and Brooklyn-based Jessica Lurie is an award-winning multi-instrumentalist, composer, and improviser, performing on saxophones, flute, voice, accordion and electronics. She calls on a wide range of…


Salome MC

Salome MC is an Iranian musician, multimedia artist, writer and educator. She is the first woman rapper/hiphop producer of Iran, where she helped shape the hiphop scene in early…

Portrait of Kate Myre

Kate Myre

Kate Myre lives and works in Seattle as a stage actor, voice over talent, and teacher. In addition to her extensive work nationally as a voice over artist and dialect…

Photo of Jesse Minkert

Jesse Minkert

Jesse Minkert’s work has appeared in about fifty literary journals including the Cream City Review, Confrontation, Mount Hope, the Floating Bridge Review, the Minetta Review, Poetry Northwest, Common Knowledge…