DocSong’s mission is to bear witness to the human condition and give voice, through music, to people’s experiences.
People around the world sharing and creating songs from their spoken words.
To build connection among people, reduce loneliness, and free up creativity.
SELECTED DocSong milestones
Hannah Batley serves as the first story source and co-writes with Malcolm Brooks the first documentary song “Sunflower.” They go on to collaborate on three more documentary songs.
Monika Kelly, at Bay Chamber Concerts and Music School, sponsors a course in documentary songwriting, in which six students follow the method and generate documentary songs. Monica then adds a documentary songwriting course as part of the Next Generation string program.
Marieke Slovin begins learning the documentary songwriting method from Malcolm. She later transforms oral histories of Massachusetts mill workers into documentary songs.
Hannah Batley, Alex Wilder, and other members of the Lady on the Radio band are invited to perform in the Camden Library concert series. The show sells out.
Hannah Batley releases the album “Lady on the Radio,” containing four documentary songs.
Chloë Isis serves as story source for the first humorous documentary song “Driver’s Ed Blues”.
Rohan Edwards enrolls as the first documentary songwriting intern from Bennington College. He develops songs about family relationships.
Will Foote explores generating songs about his high school and college cultures. He goes on to collaborate on songs with rural farmers in upstate New York.
Alex Wilder takes documentary songwriting to Cuba, and Nora Willauer takes it to Spain. Their works became the first documentary songs in Spanish.
Chloë Isis and Will Foote conduct the first demonstration of the DocSong process on radio.
Caroline Rex-Waller designs a week-long documentary songwriting intensive for the White Mountain School in New Hampshire. 37 high school students co-write and perform their documentary songs.
Zach Arfa acts the part of a documentary songwriter in a play production, generating documentary songs as part of the play’s performance.
Genevieve Roby signs on as the first long distance intern, completing her DocSong internship online from Maryland.
Hazel Delehey is commissioned by Colorado’s High Mountain Institute to write the first documentary song to be used in a film.
Whit Arau designs and hosts a series of short podcasts of documentary songwriters reflecting on their work.
Malcolm Brooks is invited to the Carnegie Hall Weill Institute to perform a lullaby that was written using the documentary songwriting method.
Melodi Var Öngel proposes to use documentary songwriting in Cyprus, as part of a reconciliation effort between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. Her proposal is approved and funded by a Davis Peace Grant, and her work later becomes featured in a TEDx talk in England.
Joaquin Contreras uses the method as part of a documentary on migrant workers and also as a means of documenting family histories.
Jonny Westhorp and Will Foote collaborate in Belgium with refugees seeking asylum. The songs offer testimony to human perseverance and the universal desire for freedom.
Khalid Taylor and Chris Finn co-write the first documentary song exploring the relationship between an orphan and her parents.
Nora Willauer applies the method to writing songs with women who have experienced sexual and domestic abuse. Her work is featured on NPR’s Morning Edition (October 2019).
Caleb Edwards submits a documentary song as part of his application to Berklee College of Music. (He is accepted).
ADDITIONAL DocSong testimonials
“How beautiful to feel so fully listened to. I had not realized how rare that feeling is, and moreover, how much listening can feel like love. Working with Malcolm and Chloë has been wonderfully rejuvenating, renewing my desire to weave creativity into my life and to remember, always, to celebrate the numerous moments, however kind, ugly or mundane, that make us human.”
— Caroline Rex-Waller | Bethlehem, New Hampshire
“We need 10 or 100 of Malcolm Brooks traveling around inviting others to tell their stories in this manner. This would not only have a profound effect on this population in individual terms but also offer the community ways to connect to the commonalities among their stories.”
— Rick Medrick | Boulder, Colorado
"Documentary songwriting is a meaningful modern continuation of the oral traditions that have been practiced by marginalized cultures throughout history.”