A Way Out of No Way

Jane Sapp’s Stories of Cultural Work and Social Transformation

Jane Sapp PianoThe noted African American musician and cultural worker Jane Wilburn Sapp, in collaboration with Dr. Cynthia Cohen of Brandeis University, are creating a set of useful and inspiring resources that identify and demonstrate the unique power of cultural work as an approach to social transformation.

Jane Sapp is a musician and cultural worker with deep roots in the gospel music traditions of the American south. A musician of enormous power and talent, Jane Sapp was a Civil Rights Movement leader, and has worked in schools and community centers for decades.

This project draws upon the decades-long career of Jane Wilburn Sapp, as well as the expertise of Dr. Cynthia Cohen, the director of the program on Peacebuilding and the Arts at Brandeis University. A book, accompanied by a disc of multi-media resources, will illustrate how the core principles and practices of music in the African American tradition embody an approach to shared leadership and empowerment that has informed struggles for social justice in communities of color throughout the American South and has guided national and international cross-cultural exchanges as well.

Cultural work as an approach to social transformation will be illustrated through stories of and reflections on Jane Wilburn Sapp’s extensive practice, as well as through interviews, video clips, photographs and other materials she has gathered from communities and community leaders throughout the South (a few in the North and in Europe and Africa). These stories, reflections and illustrations will be shaped in presentation series for several different audiences, and then synthesized into a book and a multi-media disc; together, these resources will address activists and practitioners working for social change and students in fields such as social justice, music, community development, youth and human development, education, peace and justice studies, African-American studies, ethnomusicology, and American history.

For more information, please visit the Peacebuilding and the Arts website: