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Third-year public policy student Nerrissa Crawford said she grew up in a musically-inclined family —  her cousin is a Grammy-winning music producer, and her mother is a master of ceremonies, an emcee. Her passion for music led her to UNC's Albums and Record Society as a first-year. Now, she is the organization's president. 

Since 2021, the club has worked toward creating an inclusive environment for Black students to explore how music impacts their experiences. On Oct. 10, they hosted a general body meeting to discuss singer Lauryn Hill’s album, "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill." 

Crawford said the group gives students the ability to communicate through music, interpreting how songs apply to what students experience in everyday life.

“Music is just so versatile, it allows you to make your own observations,” Crawford said.

Zahria Sanders, the social media coordinator for the society, said Lauryn Hill’s album is a “self-help book” that highlights life lessons and connects the artist with listeners. She also said music has been an outlet for many University students, like their members, to express their minds and make them feel at ease. 

At general body meetings, the society lets students tap into their creative sides and form their own sense of individuality. In the October discussion, members analyzed the words of each song on the album and discussed how the lyrics represent student perspectives and common experiences.

“I think music is an outlet to kind of get away from society’s representation of us,” Crawford said.

Nava Little, the fundraising and recruitment coordinator of the organization, said music is an expression of the self. She also said it can connect various cultures and close gaps between generations by showing the truth of human experience and highlighting shared issues.

“Music is one of those things that transcends a lot of boundaries that people hide behind,” Little said. 

The organization hopes to let students be vulnerable and discuss generational issues that a variety of music types get at, Bryson Ellis, the secretary of the society, said. They work to be an avenue in helping students identify the importance of music in many cultures, especially for historically oppressed groups.

In the “timeless” album, Little said Lauryn Hill touches on many issues college-aged individuals in the Black community think about. 

“Especially when it comes to topics like Black masculinity, and when we listen to Lauryn Hill, that was something that meant a lot to them,” Ellis said.

The organization also focuses on exposing students to the historical context of music. Sanders said listening to music from different eras helped her learn from and think critically about “old-school” and “new-school” artists. 

“You’re supposed to learn things from music,” Little said.

The society has worked with other Black organizations on campus to host events for students around music. The organizations include the Black Student Movement and the Mu Zeta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., which is a part of the Divine Nine — a council of Black Greek letter organizations. 

The organization also holds biweekly general body meetings on Tuesday in Dey Hall and plans to hold more events throughout the year to encourage students to expand their knowledge about diverse types of music.  

“Music is always there to support you,” Crawford said. “I always think of it as medicine, and artists are really doctors."

@dailytarheel |

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