Monday, November 26, 2012

Meet Jamie Courville: Recording The Voices Seldomly Heard

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Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.”  from The Secret Life of Bees

In a world dominated by images and the written word,  storytelling is becoming a lost art.  Yet nothing is more powerful than the human voice and the deeply personal stories that we all carry inside us.  Give that voice and those stories a chance to be heard and they have the capability to touch others in a way that images and text cannot.
Jamie Courville, a Gowanus transplant from Texas, has taken the time to listen.  Recently, she began working on a series of audio portraits that are deeply moving and inspirational.  "I record the voices and faces of people seldom heard and strive to get them to places where they will be heard," Courville told me when we met for a cup of coffee.  "The voice goes straight to the heart and reaches people in a universal way."

Courville has recorded some remarkable individuals.  There is the story of  Heidi, who was adopted from Iran and grew up in Virginia.  There is Barry, who makes ukuleles out of cigar boxes, and  Randy, a former crack cocaine dealer, who got caught, went to prison, and turned his life around after he served his sentence.  And of course, there is the story of  Brandon, who contracted HIV and just speaks about the difficulties of taking medication. (Sadly, Brandon passed away earlier this month.)
Deeply honest and intimate, these portraits are a window into their lives.  One admires the courage of the individuals who speak so frankly about themselves.  Perhaps it is Courville who draws them out, who puts them at ease, who won't judge them.

Having worked in the film business for the past 12 years, Courville intends to use oral histories to help inform and advocate.  "Some people respond to statistics and some people respond to protests but most people respond to stories", she explained. "Audio portraits in the first person are an effective way to inform, educate, inspire and let people know they are not alone.  It has the ability to make individuals real people instead of statistics. It can be used to advocate."
Courville  believes that the medium could be a powerful way for non-profit organizations, neighborhood groups, as well as small businesses to promote themselves.
If you would like to get in contact with Jamie Courville and to listen to more audio portraits, please go  to her website here.

I would like to thank Jamie for taking the time to meet with me and for sharing some of her audio portraits.





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