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“ What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose,
for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us. 

Helen Keller

refractions: a collection of human anthems



Refractions is an opportunity for those who are grieving during this period of physical distancing to collaborate with artists and create original music inspired by individuals who have been lost. Of the many heartbreaks this pandemic has caused, the inability for friends and families to gather and grieve the loss of loved ones is tragic and devastating. Whether the result of COVID-19 or other causes and regardless of culture or faith, our means of celebrating and remembering those who have died has been disrupted. As grief becomes a persistent presence in many of our lives, we are left to process the loss in isolation. 


With Refractions, bereaved volunteer participants are invited to have a conversation with an artist from Blindspot Collective who has been trained in sensitive conversation practices, to share about the life of a loved one who has passed. The artist then collaborates with a songwriter or composer to develop an original piece of music inspired by the memories of that individual, and a recording of the music will be made to celebrate their life. While artists cannot contribute in the remarkable ways of doctors, nurses, grocery clerks, delivery workers, and countless others, we are honored to elevate the lives and stories of the departed while reverberating expressions of love and loss within our community. Scroll through this page to view the songs we've created so far.


Momma's gonna work it out

written and performed in memory of Juliet Davis, inspired by a conversation with her son, Tavi McNeil

Performed by Kendrick Dial & The Routine

Vocals: Bryan Barbarin and Kendrick Dial

Drums: David Butterfield

Bass: Nick "Nitty" Hein

Guitar: Russell Ramo

my little scholar

written and performed in memory of Grace, inspired by a conversation with her granddaughter,

Margot Fitzsimmons

Lyrics by: Derek Rice and Dan Erickson

Music by: Derek Rice

Vocals: Christiana Rice

Guitar: Derek Rice and Danny Muller

Home is your family

written and performed in memory of Andrew, inspired by a conversation with his sister: Cara Hauser 

Music and Lyrics: Andrew Walters

anywhere you go

written and performed for Sam, in memory of her parents

Music and Lyrics by Dakota Ringer

Vocals/Guitar/Banjo: Dakota Ringer

Vocals: Amanda Blair

Stand up Bass: Sean Collins


written and performed for Cindy Nguyen, in memory of her Uncle Tran.

Music and Lyrics by: Morgan Hollingsworth 

gonna be

written and performed for Elizabeth, in memory of her father Harvey

Music and Lyrics by: William BJ Robinson

Performed by: William BJ Robinson and Shellina Hefner


"'The first time I heard Kendrick and Bryan’s song I came to tears immediately,' said McNeil, who lives in Chicago. 'And, oh my goodness, this was just her type of music. When they switched it up in the middle of the song with the spoken word section I thought to myself:  who are these guys? You didn’t know me but you know who I am and what I love.’”

August, 2020

"'For me, our job is to create empathy and to tell stories,' Hefner said. 'In all of these numbers that we're flooded with on television, we're losing the individual in this moment. Yeah, we see like, 300 new cases yesterday and we think: Oh that's a lot. But I think that we're losing who these people are. Every single one of them has a story.'"

KPBSMidday Edition
00:00 / 05:33

August, 2020

"As we see COVID numbers in Minnesota climbing again, we want to return to the foundation of this Artistic Antidote initiative: coping and healing through the arts. We pause today with a story about a group of musicians who team up with families who have lost loved ones..."

October, 2020

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this project is made possible with generous support from

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and our individual donors: Cassandra Saldivar, Alison Urban, Ell Rudgers, Marisol Castillo Laborde, Wilfred Paloma, Sara Lucchini, Katy Lillig, Suthe Mani, Margot Fitzsimmons, Marisa Taylor Scott, Nadia Guevara, Meghan McCarty Griffith, Myron Taylor,

Ralph Johnson, Jackie Vandenberg,  Gerardo Flores Tonella, Mary Styer Schrock, Cindy Yoo Lim Choi, Ed Case, Julia Cuppy,

Debra Witzel, Cindy Nguyen, Mai Willin, and Anonymous

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