Songs From the F Train


Songs From the F Train


voice and piano

  • Premiere: Fort Greene, Brooklyn, NYC / Make Music New York / American Opera Projects, Fort Greene Park Conservancy and The Walt Whitman Project. / Nicole Mitchell, mezzo soprano; Tom Bagwell, pianist
  • Instrumentation: voice and piano
  • Duration: 7'
  • Text: poems by children from Brooklyn

Program Note

Songs from the F Train is a compilation of poems written by three Brooklyn school children. The students were participants in a poetry workshop led by Brooklyn writer Angeli Rasbury in Fort Greene. This composition is the first commissioned work of American Opera Projects' program I Hear America Singing. Inspired by the poem by Walt Whitman, I Hear America Singing is a new music initiative that commissions composers to create operatic songs based on the poetry and prose of Americans of all ages and all walks of life. Created by American Opera Projects and the Walt Whitman Project in 2009, I Hear America Singing seeks to express the varied thoughts, feelings, and stories of the people of our nation into a communal voice that will resonate for all.


I'm Smart

I'm smart but timid,

I worry I will never break

out of my fear.

I hear the

harmony when

people sing.

I see the

violence in my


I want to indulge

my talents to the

world, I'm smart

but timid.

- Alexis Cummings, age 12


I am From The Ghetto "Brooklyn"

I am from the streets of Brooklyn.

Where Graffiti Art is our museum.

Where that park on the corner with

broken bottles and needles from

the crack heads is our Disney World.

Where gang fights are our get together,

and funerals are our family reunions.

I am from the streets of Brooklyn

where we use jumper cables to play

double dutch because, jump ropes keep

the crooks near so they could sell it for crack.

I am from the streets of Brooklyn

where the ghetto is something

I can runaway from

though can not forget.

- Najaya Royal, age 12

When Randa wears red

When Randa wears red

She looks like a strawberry

When Randa wears red

She looks beautiful

When Randa wears red

She is happy

When Randa wears red

She gets new things

When Randa wears red

She remembers everything

When Randa wears red

She has her watch

When Randa wears red

She reads a book

When Randa wears red

She matches with Valentines Day

- Samori Covington, age 9