The program was born when Vanessa Lively, Austin songwriter, musician and artist, was awarded the Artist Activist Award from Music to Life in May of 2017. Music To Life, a nonprofit organization founded by Noel Paul Stookey (of 60's folk trio, Peter, Paul and Mary) and his daughter, Elizabeth Stookey Sunde, empowers artists through music to create change within their communities. With their support, Lively was able to begin her dream project of creating a music program that works directly with Austin's homeless community.
Since its inception Home Street Music has been offering a therapeutic and inclusive music program that serves people experiencing homelessness. We know that creativity and self-expression is vital for artists and musicians. This is especially true for unhoused and recently homed musicians. We bring their artistic expression to life in a safe place with the tools to make music and build community. We believe in the healing power of song and the caring support of a community based in music.
Home Street Music is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Home Street Music are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
What We Provide
Weekly Music Gatherings
There are currently weekly music gatherings held at Community First Village and more circles are coming to the Austin area soon. A team of professional musicians lead the weekly music circles. Home Street Music offers four seasons to its participants per year. During each eight-week season, the team and a handful of faithful volunteers create a safe place that encourages self-expression and creativity. Each week for 8 weeks at a time, our 90-minute circles kick off with a sing-along of our signature "gathering song," whose lyrics reinforce each person's identity as a creator, artist, and musician, as well as underline a sense of belonging in the world. Next, we invite participants to introduce themselves, then to share — a song they wrote, a song they like, a poem, a drawing, an idea — or to simply be an observer. No music is experience necessary.
Live Music Events
Each year, we hold a handful of public events including concerts, workshops and fundraising events. Our Home Street Music participants get opportunities to perform at incredible Austin music venues and have their work be seen and celebrated.
What We Are Seeing
- A boost in participants' confidence
- Restored dignity built over the session
- Participants express themselves proudly with family/friends
- Strong connections form within the group
- Participants connecting to the community beyond the group
- Participants swapping stories, ideas and song in a supportive way
This song circle is a catalyst for people to realize how important music is to them, Within a few weeks of coming to the circle and seeing that it's a safe, organic music space, people came out of their shells quickly and gained so much confidence in their own voices and started sharing their art.
At our Community First Village circles, participants have told us coming to the music circles gives them something to build their identity on beyond homelessness. We've watched wallflowers come out of their shell and discover a charming, talented songwriter behind a shy exterior. We love that!
“It got me to play and it got me to start writing again. That's the main thing, I haven't been writing in a long long time. It put me on a music schedule. It put me on a formidable path"”
— Scott Osborn, Home Street Music Participant
Musicians & Circle Leads
Vanessa Lively - Founder
Johann Wagner - Musician
Gregory Alexander - Musician
Amy Sue Berlin - Intern
And a team of dedicated volunteers including John Beeler, Phillip Owen, Jonathan DiMarco and many more!
Nonprofit Board of Directors:
John Warren (President)
Mary Jo O'Neal
Amy Murphy (past board member)
2017-2018 Advisory Board:
Patsy Bouressa, SIMS Foundation
Miranda Dawn - musician & circle leader
Liz Stookey Sunde, Music to Life
Mary Jo O'Neal
Dustin Welch, Soldier Songs and Voices
Past team members include:
Nicolette Good - Musician
Miranda Dawn - Musician
DC Bloom - Musician
Brandee Smith, SIMS Foundation - Licensed Professional Counselor
Gilbert Ramos - LCSW