Why Music? Why Now?
Communities face unprecedented health, racial & social justice crises. Arts organizations & nonprofits need accessible, innovative and restorative programming. Musicians are mourning lost income, shuttered venues and gig prospects that are slow to return.
Mobilizing musicians for change, changes everything!
Musicians can be powerful change agents, developing new social solutions, reminding us of our common experiences as humans and inspiring our responsibility to our global community
Behavioral, social and neuroscience research shows that musicians can help enhance people’s identification with a cause or community, and their music engages a primal part of the brain that increases people’s energy, connection and loyalty around an issue, and toward each other
Musicians help define pivotal moments of our history, sparking new and unconventional ways of communicating, challenging norms, and unifying
Musician-driven gatherings, whether to raise awareness or connect with people in need, remind us of our common humanity, give us a sense of belonging, and spark meaningful participation. In this environment, music-driven approaches to community problem solving are especially effective
Music can glue people together, and multiply their energy, in a very efficient and concise way. It’s the best way to remember, in real time, that when we join together, we are more than the sum of our parts.
~Kathy Mattea, artist educator & MtL friend
Investing in Musicians delivers ROI for Communities
We invest in musicians: providing education, facilitating collaborations, and financially supporting their projects. In return, artists create programs that harness music for social change. The result? A ripple effect of community impact, measured by lives changed - one artist, one inmate, one caregiver, one immigrant at a time.
Survivor Stories: Myles Bullen
Myles Bullen is an Indigenous Artpoet and indie rap artist from Portland, Maine. Music has helped him through the hardest parts of his life; he makes his music to help others in the same way. With inventive wordplay and powerful lyrics, Myles raps over everything from smooth jazz beats, to ukulele, or entirely acapella. Myles collaborated with the Maine State Prison and the University of Maine to create Survivor Stories: a 15-week residency with prison inmates on writing and performance. Myles describes his work as “an act of harm reduction” and helping incarcerated people understand that their lives are worth living. He has also developed a version of the program for wardens.
With the support of Music to Life, Myles was able to frame his project in a cohestive and digestible way and seek funding. To date, he has piloted the program, confirmed collaborators, and a multi-year funding source. Miles says of MtL, “[I’ve] felt like [I’ve] had some accountability, [with] something to show up to every month… people who believed in me.”
Learn more about Myles.
Hope Loves Harmony: Cheryl Cawood
Cheryl Cawood is a singer/songwriter in Sante Fe, Texas. Her music presents an edgy Country/Blues/Folk vibe. When two of her three daughters fell into patterns of substance abuse, Cheryl turned her experiences into activism by using her music to support the families of people with substance use disorders.
With the help of Music to Life, Cheryl was able to start her program, Hope Loves Harmony (HLH). “I had hope, I had my music, and I had harmony; Music to Life helped me put all that together.” Hope Loves Harmony helps parents and caregivers of children with substance use disorder by engaging them in creative songwriting workshops and activities. Cheryl is fiscally sponsored through Fractured Atlas and completed a pilot version of Hope Loves Harmony in Fall 2020 with community participants. The pilot resulted in the recording of an acoustic version of Letting Go, a song co-created with HLH pilot participants. She is currently fundraising to continue providing a creative and engaging outlet for parents and caregivers alike.
Learn more about Cheryl.
Do Something Great Today: Steven Hernandez
Steven Hernandez is a Latinx hip hop artist from Houston, Texas who sets his clever, introspective lyrics to lively boom-bap beats. Issues of social justice have been with Steven throughout his life, and at a young age he realized “music actually matters... and can have an impact.” Many of Steven’s songs reference destructive habits from his younger years. These experiences motivated him to start Do Something Great Today, where he teaches youth about the power of music and leadership to make their voices heard.
Through MtL Steven learned to write grants, budget, promote and continue to innovate his program. Austin Creative Alliance fiscally sponsors him; partnered with Austin Bat Cave (ABC), a creative writing community for youth; and launched a joint hip-hop literacy project with ABC and Travis County Juvenile Detention Center in summer 2021. Steven was awarded a community micro-grant from Austin Mutual Aid and is seeking The Lewis Prize for Music to fund this work with youth.
Learn more about Steven.
The Immigrant American Folk Music Project: Amanda Pascali
Amanda Pascali is an Italian-Egyptian-American “immigrant American folk” artist from Queens, New York. She has pioneered the genre of Immigrant American folk, saying it is “too foreign for here, too foreign for home, and never enough for both.” Inspired by her father’s several-year struggle in a Romanian labor camp, Amanda’s vivid lyrics switch between English to Italian over-energetic folk guitar melodies.
Through Amanda's participation in the Accelerator Program, she started the Immigrant American Folk Music Project, a multimedia project aimed at teaching English as a second language (ESL) through music and revealing the reality of immigrant life in America. This initiative has transformed into a storytelling project to amplify the previously unheard voices of immigrants, refugees, and first-generation Americans. Through this initiative, Amanda hopes to redefine what it means to be American. Her work and music were featured at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts Accelerating Change: Equity & Empowerment Concert. Amanda is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas, received a $2500 grant from the City of Houston Arts Alliance and continues to seek financial support for her project.
Learn more about Amanda.