John McKenna, Harry Grammer, Ifunanya Nweke, Erica Krusen and Victoria Stevens at the GRAMMY Museum
Photo by Timothy Norris/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
"Amplifying Music’s Reach" GRAMMY Week Panel Discusses Human Connection, MusiCares Research, Outreach, & More
Yesterday, Jan. 21, the GRAMMY Museum kicked off a series of educational GRAMMY week events just ahead of the 62nd GRAMMY Awards set to take place this Sunday, Jan. 26 on CBS. Hosted on the museum’s second floor Clive Davis Theater, the panel "Amplifying Music’s Reach" brought students, visitors and industry professionals together for discussions focused on the ways that each panelist is using their career to help harness music's power as a tool for personal growth and mental and emotional healing in others. By dedicating their daily lives and consistent work to creating tangible change through music, each panelist is helping to diversify and ultimately redefine industry spaces, while uplifting underserved musical communities along the way.
The panel, moderated by clinical Psychologist and GRAMMY Foundation Music and Science Research Special Projects consultant Victoria Stevens, helped its audience to explore what mobilizing through on-the-ground initiatives looks like in today’s music landscape. Stevens opened the proceedings by emphasizing the relevance of music's more tangible and human benefits that are often not fully realized. She explained that we must consider how deeply embedded music is within us culturally, socially and even biologically, in order to move more effectively towards serving communities through music.
"Music is complex and mysterious. It’s ubiquitous and it’s known as the universal language,” she began. "Music-making and listening have been shown to exist in all current and historically documented human societies. And for all humans, the musical brain is present at birth and continues as a unique way of communicating, processing and understanding emotions throughout our lifetimes… music affects our minds and bodies in ways that we are only beginning to scientifically understand,” she said before detailing several music research initiatives supported through the Recording Academy including studies connected to music’s healing power for those with PTSD, Alzheimer’s and stroke victims.
According to Stevens, the awarding of grants and funding for similar innovative music research projects is an important facet of the GRAMMY’s larger outreach in bringing music to everyone as a means of transforming and healing. Projects like MusiCares, which offers resources like health care and insurance to artists and musicians who may not have immediate access to it, and Jazz Hands for Autism, which empowers creators on the autism spectrum to pursue music as a career with advocacy programs, are the epitome of said efforts. Further, the mentor-based arts and education program New Earth helps exemplify the values of connecting and uplifting through music by bringing music education to juvenile justice system affected youth as a means of empowerment, while Operation Respect uses music as an anti-bullying tool in schools across the country.
Panelists offering their insights to these kinds of projects and other initiatives were Senior Director of the Recording Academy’s charitable arm MusiCares Erica Krusen, Ifunanya Nweke who is creating avenues of expression and employment for musicians on the autism spectrum with her organization Jazz Hands for Autism, New Earth founder, Obama fellow and CNN Hero Harry Grammer, and Executive Director of anti-bullying organization Operation Respect, John McKenna.
On using music as a helping hand for others, when asked what she’d like to leave the audience with, it was Nweke’s response that held itself transcendent in terms of keeping music alive as the connection between one another. "Confidence is knowing that you have something of value to give to somebody, and community thrives when that giving becomes reciprocal."
The GRAMMY Museum's educational programming will continue throughout the week including discussions on Careers in the Music Industry, Creating Collaborative Communities for Female Artists and more. For more information on the scheduled events, visit the museum’s programs page here.