St. Olaf Magazine | Fall 2019

Piper Center Intern: Bronwyn Redvers-Lee ’20

Bronwyn Redvers-Lee, photographed at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Washington D.C. by Erin Scott / Polaris archives
Bronwyn Redvers-Lee ’20
Music major | Media Studies concentration
Marketing Intern, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
Washington, D.C.

Without the financial support of the Piper Center, Bronwyn Redvers-Lee likely would be spending the summer working at the daycare where she’d been employed during the previous two summers. That’s because her internship at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings is unpaid and, like many students wanting the experience of an internship but also needing to earn money during school break, she thought it wasn’t feasible.

“I’m living at home [in Takoma Park, Maryland], but commuting to Washington, D.C., isn’t cheap,” Redvers-Lee says. “The funding from the Piper Center is really helpful and generous.”

The stipend she receives is supporting her work as a marketing intern at the Smithsonian Institution’s nonprofit record label, which is a part of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

“I grew up around the music business. My dad started a blues record label in Mississippi in the ’90s, and he influenced my music tastes and encouraged me to study music,” Redvers-Lee says. In work separate from her internship, Redvers-Lee and her father are reviving his record label by co-producing two unreleased albums of blues music recorded in the late ’90s. She is mixing the tracks at Tonal Park studio in Takoma Park and determining what might need to be added, like additional instruments.

“It’s another project I wouldn’t have time for if I were working at the daycare,” she says.

Redvers-Lee also enjoys filming and editing videos, and her work-study job on campus involves recording and livestreaming recitals and concerts. “Media studies is a broad and quickly developing field, and so I’ve been trying to have outside-the-classroom experiences to dip my toe in and figure out what I enjoy doing, which is what my internship is about,” she says.

At Folkways Recordings — which records all genres of music, from folk to jazz to hip hop — Redvers-Lee has been editing liner notes of re-released albums, as well as promoting new releases in the press and uploading them to streaming platforms. “Working with streaming is new to me as someone who’s creating content, not just listening to it,” she says. “I’m curating playlists that say something about Folkways’ mission and contemporary life.”

The internship has been the perfect blend of her interests in music and media studies, Redvers-Lee says, enabling her to apply knowledge from courses in musicology, arts management, and St. Olaf’s American Conversations program, such as understanding the role music played during the civil rights movement. She’s also using some of the same skills she deploys in her work-study job.

“I want to go into something in media studies that’s informed by music, and this internship is helping me learn how the two are connected,” she says. “I’ve observed all aspects of the label, from producing and editing to publicity to digital platforms. It’s given me the confidence to apply for jobs across a broad spectrum.”