Voices of the Quilt

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On Friday, August 26, 2016, nearly 100 people gathered at the Custom Made Theatre to experience the first public reading (singing!) of this new song cycle that gives voice to the narratives behind the AIDS Quilt, now the largest piece of folk art in the world. The response was a resounding embrace of exactly what composer Ayesu Lartey asks of us – to walk this life with love.

Voices of the Quilt is a celebration of community, of the power we have to make change when we come together in shared voice.
“Maybe we could get the whole country mobilized. We could DO something.”


A story for San Francisco – a city ravaged by the HIV/AIDS crisis that rose up and took unprecedented action in the fight for human rights. Uplifting, joyous, and full of the spirit of life, Voices of the Quilt urges us to stomp our feet and sing out loud.

Voices… sets to music the stories of people connected to the AIDS Memorial Quilt – parents who lost children, lovers who watched a partner’s excruciating demise, friends who lost a community, and then of long-term survivors, of activists, and of a community rebuilding.

The Custom Made Theatre Company is developing this new musical from NYC composer Ayesu Lartey, with an aim toward a 2017/18 production, in partnership with San Francisco’s Jörg Fockele of The HIV Story Project and John Cunningham of the National AIDS Memorial Grove.

Bringing Voices to the Quilt to life in the form of a live production and subsequent video educational tool requires funding well beyond Custom Made’s current means.  None of the 2+ year-to-date developmental work has been funded, but this project has been too important to us to not move forward in spite of that. Those of us involved with Voices are here, ultimately, because we believe these songs and Ayesu’s voice must be heard.  We are here because these songs touched each of us on some deeply personal level; they express an emotional journey so vitally important to our sense of community and hope. 

Now, I’m asking you to get swept up with us.  You can make a tax-deductible donation to The Custom Made Theatre Company’s Quilt Fund below. Special sponsorship opportunities are also available for individuals and companies at the $5,000 and $10,000 giving level; please contact Leah Abrams at [email protected] for more information.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read our story.  We hope to see you along the journey!  And please be sure to check back for updates, including photos and videos from the first part of this journey.



Workshop Team:  Friday, August 26, 8pm, Custom Made Theatre
Music & Lyrics by Ayesu Lartey
Directed by M. Graham Smith
Musical Direction by David Aaron Brown

Jesse Cortez
Dominic Dagdagan
Ayelet Firstenberg
Kathryn Fox Hart
Nick Sweeney
Ashley Willits

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