From classmates meeting in the basement of Annenberg Hall while pursuing their PhDs to nerding out over their favorite music, Mary Beth Ray, KLN '12, and Carrie Teresa, KLN '14, have been through a lot together. In November 2020, the two alumnae launched The Adolescentia Project, a digital music history archive where visitors can submit the album that was formative for them when they were 14 years old.
"We've launched The Adolescentia Project in an attempt to kind of create this living archive to document and celebrate all of these formative music experiences," Ray said.
The project grew out of casual conversations between Ray and Teresa about their love of music and their background in music and public memory. Ray had done research on the way musicians connect with their audiences and published her findings in her book Digital Connectivity and Music Culture in 2017. Teresa published her book, Looking at the Stars in 2019 which focused on journalistic commemoration of Black narratives.
Ray approached Teresa with the idea last year, and both agreed that the timing was "serendipitous" because both were about to get tenure - Ray at Plymouth State University and Teresa at Niagara University - and start new research projects. They started posting on The Adolescentia Project Instagram account in November 2020 and have received close to 100 submissions of people telling their music stories from when they were 14 years old.
"We really hope that The Adolescentia Project is a place where everyone feels welcome," Teresa said.
She said that the archive isn't about celebrating the popular albums of the day, but about celebrating the ones that were most important to us regardless of how "cool" they were at the time. "Any piece of music that helped us during that period to become the awesome person that we are today is worth celebrating and is by definition 'cool,'" she said.
Adolescence can be a tough time for many people; it can be scary to be 14 and navigate your first year of high school and build strong family and friend relationships. The Adolescentia Project hopes to honor all of the music that has helped people through that tumultuous time. "This is the music that gave us the courage to become who we are," Ray said.
Teresa noted how important it is to look back on adolescence with positivity, instead of cringing at what we wore or what we listened to. "As adults, we don't get a chance to look back at that kid and say 'Look how great you are! Look how courageous you were back then!'" she said.
Ray and Teresa love working with each other. Teresa called Ray "the beating heart" of the project and is so glad that Ray approached her when she did.
"It's something that means so much to both Carrie and I because it's always been a really important lifeline for both of us as we've kind of tackled life's challenges over the years," Ray said. "I'm so blessed to have been able to connect with Carrie on this."
"Any and all musical life experiences are welcome," Teresa said.