Long before the year 2020, our generations was already living in one of the most desperately troubling and tumultuous times… in what was unarguably already a crisis point in history, with society’s most formidable challenges multiplying in alarming – and potentially calamitous – rates that we’d never before seen.
And that was where our story at The Beat of Life began.
A short list of just a few of those deeply distressing statistics already pre-COVID:
- 350 million people and climbing suffer from depression worldwide. 1 in 5 adults are affected by mental illness. And 50% – HALF of American adults will experience at least one mental illness in their lifetime.
- Over 20 million Americans over the age of 12 have a drug or alcohol addiction.
- Self harm has become a fastest rising coping mechanism for our young people, with 24% of youths cutting themselves. 50% of those who engage in self injury have been sexually abused.
- 160,000 children per day skip school for fear of being bullied – causing isolation, despair, and 4,400 youth suicides per year between the ages of 11-19, often stemming from social media inadequacy and targeting.
- The “school-to-prison” pipeline continues as a disturbing national trend of children being funneled out of school and into the criminal justice system, disproportionately affecting blacks, Hispanics, children with disabilities, or those with histories of poverty, fatherlessness, abuse, or neglect.
- The U.S. has a higher incarceration rate than any other country in the world, housing over 1/4 of the entire world’s inmate population.
- 56% of those inmates have a mental health problem, turning prisons into warehouses for the mentally ill.
But perhaps the most chilling: Suicide has been dominating the country so badly that…
- There’s a suicide in the US every 13.3 MINUTES. That’s 108 people dying by suicide per DAY… Nearly 40,000 Americans committing suicide every year.
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for 24 to 35-year-olds and 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds. And those who do the unthinkable and take their lives are rarely suspected or even who you think they would be…
There is no question… It’s been a world in crisis for a very long time.
And the case has never been greater that we desperately need solutions to society’s deepest and most urgent issues.
But is part of the problem… that too often we’re trying to solve the wrong problem
Dying From the Inside Out
When we look at these and just about any of the world’s most disturbing statistics, it becomes heartbreakingly clear that much of what we have visibly seen in the outer problems of this world – is actually the effect of our internal ones… that are critically in need of healing.
If one of the primary struggles is the battle within – the mind, heart, and soul of each of us – we must start paying attention to and creating solutions for addressing what the world is often really crying out about.
Which is exactly where The Vision Began…
An Unlikely Intervention:
The Power of Music
Interior issues of the soul require a soulful solution. And there are few things in this world that speak louder to our internal world and what we call the human soul than… Music. Throughout history, it has been hailed as the universal language of the heart and soul, and most believe – as we do – it is one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind.
But this power of music we all refer to is not just anecdotal. There is a rapidly growing body of scientific evidence that the application of music to some of our most critical social issues can lead to an astonishing and ground-breakingly profound impact.
For example, one of the most basic concepts of modern cognitive psychology/therapy is that we can alter unwanted behavior patterns or mood disorders by altering the internal thought patterns. In other words, before we can get to a change in behavior, we must change our minds… our thoughts creating our feelings that lead to the outward behavior.
Music is so successful as an intervention in large part because it has a tremendous affect on and ability to influence and even entirely transform our thoughts and feelings as it:
- Releases and brings out emotions that wouldn’t otherwise be released
- Provides changes in thought/perspectives, and moods in ways talk therapy cannot
- Heals memories, reprocessing old damaging patterns of reflection and core belief systems
- Even physiologically – calms or energizes the body, and reduces the stress hormone cortisol (while increasing healthy cell production, & boosting the immune system on a cellular level)
Music just might help us overcome battles that perhaps nothing else can.
And here in Nashville, music is our greatest asset.
So… We Had A Dream
Because Music Can Save A Life
If music has the power to heal and radically transform what is so often the REAL root problem for so many – the core issues within each of us…
Which in turn can set off a cascade of changes that could, potentially, lead to a whole new path or even life…
Then music has the potential to not just help, not just heal, but even, just maybe… actually SAVE a life.
And so The Beat of Life’s Mission & Core Message were born:
To create music programs for Nashville’s most vulnerable, challenged, and hurting populations… pairing the world’s absolutely heartbreaking statistics with the incredibly compelling evidence of music’s power to break through and possibly change it all.
Because Music Can Save A Life.
A Higher Purpose for “Music” City
Since music is unarguably Nashville’s greatest and most powerful resource, we call our mission an asset-based approach: leveraging what we have in such astronomical abundance in this city to serve a higher purpose for the wounded and distressed among us… and in the process, tackling and bringing solutions to some of the most critical social issues of our times.
Essentially, it is a merging of the music and social/human services worlds. And when you bring these two worlds together, there is an opportunity for incredible magic… sometimes even the impossible… to happen.
An Unlikely Social Hero :
The Power of The Songwriter
Taken a step further, we decided it was critical to not just produce passive programs fostering only the listening to music, but the creating of it. Through being engaged in that creative process, individuals involve and activate much more of their own minds, hearts, and souls.
Enter the Songwriter. It’s no secret that Nashville is not just “Music City”, but that we are known for being an intimate town flooded with the most masterful tunesmiths on earth: Songwriters. We could just as easily be called “Songwriter City”. And so… we decided to leverage not only the abundance of music in Nashville… but the abundance of songwriters.
But it’s not just because we have that rich supply of them that we are harnessing them.
It’s because of their tremendous value.
Experts in Heartbreak
And we immediately realized exactly why it works and makes such a profound impact.
Songwriters are, quite simply, experts in heartbreak. Many – if not most – first enter the vocation at least in part because it is an outlet for their own life struggles, battles, or demons.
Songwriters bleed and heal through music themselves – so they are the perfect match to bring together with those who can use their empathy most. Though their darkness may be a different shade… their humanity, vulnerability, and “Me, too” sentiment carries extraordinary credibility for individuals experiencing great suffering. Songwriters become just one of them… and this has the power to open, soften, disarm, and inspire the hurting heart.
The Human Connection
Although we live in a world with greater “connection” than any generation, we’ve traded a global virtual connectivity for a loss of the real, live human touch. The impact of this loss of social capital is so profound that isolation and loneliness have become an entirely new developing crisis in the past decade.
And so, another critical role the songwriters play is that social bond – human connection. The songwriters walk in as a “stranger” to our program participants, but songwriters are used to forming quick bonds with new co-writers. And so, these vulnerable individuals are given the gift of a caring soul who wants to listen and help them create something of worth out of their embattled lives.
Life Songs, Tributes, & Anthems of Change
In order for music to be truly transformative, it must create new feelings within the human body and mind. So an integral part of our programming involves participants becoming a co-writer with their songwriters – to create music that will help them to see their lives, experiences, traumas, and battles in a new light.
At the same time, through this re-processing and telling of their stories creatively, they feel inspired to use their adversity or brokenness for transforming not only themselves… but perhaps even for others who will hear their song and find meaning, hope, or redemption in their own struggles as well. Lastly, through musically bringing into existence something of value to themselves and potentially others in similar battles, they also find enhanced self worth and maybe even… purpose .
For many, and more often than not, music is a very spiritual experience, as many believe God speaks to them most profoundly and intimately through music. For these souls, the program becomes a kind of ministry – helping them to find their way back to God… or to Him for the first time.
Music can save a life. But it can also save a soul.
So We Built It: Our First 3 Signature Programs
Through the combining and utilizing of experts in the music industry, songwriting, social and human services, and even faith-based arenas, we created our first three signature flagship programs designed to serve our first chosen target constituency groups:
“Redemption Songs” – Our program designed to serve the inmate populations in jails and prisons.
“Beautiful Minds” – Our program designed to serve adults and teens battling mental illness, depression, and suicide in residential treatment centers or psychiatric hospitals.
“Sing It To Stop It” – Our youth-based program designed to address the most critical issues our children and teens are facing today: hate/prejudice, anger, division, racial injustice, fractured family units, bullying/cruelty, anger, depression, anxiety, mental illness, self-harm, addiction, and suicide.
While each of our programs utilizes similar pieces and components, each also operates 100% tailored to the population served as well as each facility or organization’s needs and goals. Therefore, no two are ever the same!
Click on each to learn more specifics about the programs.
Click here for information on how you can Bring The Beat of Life to YOU or the populations you serve.
The Best News??
What started as a Nashville-based organization serving our own hometown rapidly gained notice in other cities and we’re proud to announce our expansion outside of Nashville, TN!
So feel free to reach out no matter where you live!
But guess what? There’s more to our mission.
Because we’re also on a mission to help save Music City’s music-makers in our own little way… by creating new opportunities and give backs for our often under-appreciated songwriters and new business for our local music community.
Click here to check out our Mission #2 next …