"My name is Salvador. I am a Dreamer. I was brought from Mexico to the States at age 3, and I'm a clarinetist."
The words uttered by Salvador Perez Lopez, a classical clarinet player at Indiana University in Bremen, serve as the introduction to American Dreamers: Voices of Hope, Music of Freedom, a new jazz album by John Daversa Big Band that includes over 50 artists who are "Dreamers." Brought illegally to the United States as children, Dreamers are eligible to obtain work permits and defer deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. Featuring Great American Songbook selections ranging from John Philip Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" to Woody Guthrie's "Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)" and sprinkled with musicalized spoken-word interludes in which different Dreamers tell their personal stories, the project, which was released Sept. 29, was spearheaded by producer Kabir Sehgal and music attorney Doug Davis.
"We were hoping to use the music for messaging purposes," says Davis. "We're using the album to get these phenomenal kids in front of people who otherwise wouldn't be aware of the issue. If lightning can strike because we hit the right notes" -- in the form of, say, a TV special -- "well, that's part of the goal."