Trenton Makes Music Highlights City’s Musical History

By Michael Hill

Sarah Dash — one-third of the group Labelle — recording the jingle for the two-years-in-the-making project Trenton Makes Music.

“I’m doing this because it’s important to me that the world knows there’s a history in Trenton. There’s a music history here,” she said.

A history that includes music makers who hailed from the capital city. Dash is a native. So is Nona Hendryx from Labelle and two members of Kool and the Gang and several others.

“And I think it’s important also that we create a positive image regarding the city of Trenton,” Dash said.

Dash has a vested interest in that. A few years ago, she moved back to the house she grew up in in West Trenton and restored it. That’s kind of what she’s doing with Trenton Makes Music in conjunction with The College of New Jersey’s faculty and nearly two dozen students like senior Eric O’Hare running the boards during the recording session and hoping the project creates “awareness in just one word. I had no clue about this. So, I’m happy I was able to learn it and I want to spread it out as much as I can.”

Junior Jillian Festa is taking what she’s learned from Dash’s classroom teachings to create one of four podcasts about Trenton’s music history and future.

“Ours specifically is about music education in schools and public policy. So, we’re going to target administrators and also try to go to local government and figure out how we can get more funding for music and how we can get more people involved,” Festa said.

The jingle is meant to give the project of interactive maps and more a sonic identity.

How rich is Trenton’s music history?

“It goes back all the way to the revolution and before. It encompasses many musical traditions, many cultures. As you may know, Trenton has been a melting pot for nearly all of its history so we have music from all different communities,” said TCNJ Associate Professor of Music and Interactive Multimedia Teresa Marrin Nakra.

Dash says she had several options for this jingle but in the end created one on her own.

“Why don’t I make a jingle and I go, ‘Daniel, you know, why don’t I write a song?’ And I said, ‘Trenton makes music’ and it was like, oh… and it was like OK now I’ve started something, I’ve got to finish it,” she said.

Today, Dash and her band and the students recording in their professional studio finished the jingle.