The Believe Music Heals 16 Week San Quentin Program is up and running!


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Dear Friends,

I am elated to tell you that The Believe Music Heals 16 Week San Quentin Program is up and running!

The amount of heart and soul that lives beyond the gates of San Quentin is astounding. It’s a profound experience each and every time I walk through those gates. We went live with our program in early November and since then I have been spending every Wednesday morning with a group of 26 inmates dedicated to transforming their lives through the healing power of music.

The first 8 weeks have been focused on guided meditation, breath work, setting intentions, learning healthy vocal techniques to grow vocal range, improving pitch accuracy and refining tone, and developing authenticity and honesty in vocal delivery. We have distributed instruments (guitars and ukuleles) to all of the participants and we are in the process of learning chords, strumming patterns, finger picking, and some basic music theory. We are also learning about various song forms for songwriting.

We have embarked on a series of writing exercises that include studying the works of literary giants in prose, poetry and fiction, as well as the classics of great songwriters that have come before us. Participants have chosen songs to sing and I have burned CD’s of their requests and printed lyrics sheets for them to sing in karaoke format for their peers. Their self confidence is growing. Some can’t get enough! We have an open mic portion to our class each week. But the most exciting thing I can share with you is that brilliant original songs are being composed from a place of soul searching and deep introspection.

Songs are being written on topics of forgiveness, gratitude, reflection, giving back, healing, introspection, and life lessons learned. People are taking risks and diving in. They are processing and channeling their traumatic life experiences into songs as a means of healing. The music is a safe place to make sense of the events that led them to where they are today. There has been opportunity for both solo writing as well as collaboration. We have created a safe space, a circle of trust, and participants are honing their musical skills and telling their stories through song while finding connection and creating community.

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Each and every time I arrive, I am greeted with smiles and words of gratitude and appreciation from the participants. And everyday when the class is finished I am thanked sincerely by each and every participant. I have never received such appreciation for my teaching. Many people have told me that this Believe Music Heals program offering is the best thing that has happened to them since their incarceration. Many of them say they have always wanted to pursue music but life never afforded them the privilege and opportunity until now. And in return, this experience is giving me a renewed sense of life purpose. I am amazed by what is unfolding in front of my own eyes and ears.

We are now halfway through the program and now is the time for us to start recording these beautiful songs and voices. We have guest producers and engineers scheduled to come in with portable recording gear to help create an album.

This is where you come into the picture. We need your help. This program has been funded exclusively by donations from the public. We raised $2500 on our Give Butter platform but we did not reach our needed goal. WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT to move forward to record these songs and make the album we have been working towards.

In addition to funds, we are also graciously accepting donations of musical instruments for the program.

What is most needed:

  • Guitars
  • Keyboards
  • Ukuleles

Each resident has a unique story to tell. Each resident has a powerful voice that deserves to be heard. Each resident is on their own unique journey towards healing.

I truly believe that the value in this program will not only benefit the residents who are participating, but also the other residents around them as well as the broader community who may be inspired by these powerful songs. The messages communicated are ones coming from a unique perspective that are not often shared with the world and could change lives. The participants are clearly eager to do that.

Please show your support and allow this program the opportunity to help participants reinvent and rehabilitate through the healing power of music and DONATE TODAY!

Your donation will make this album possible!!!

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

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Essence Outreach