Performance series opens conversation on mental health
by Sara Krevoy
Feb 06, 2020 | 6897 views | 0 0 comments | 690 690 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This Friday, singer/composer/activist Samora Pinderhughes takes the stage at the first-ever Feedback Sessions performance as part of a developing series produced by Sounds of Saving.

Joining him on stage at Williamsburg’s National Sawdust will be Kate Mattison of the musical group 79.5.

The show starts at 8 p.m., and will feature a poetry reading by Theo LeGro, as well as the premiere of the video for “Inertia,” the first single to emerge from Samora’s new project Venus.

Music and poetry is an eloquent entry point for the evening’s essential thread: mental wellness.

In between Friday night’s performances, local psychologist Robert Galligan will facilitate a dialogue that invites the artists, as well as the audience, to confront the theme of overcoming the overwhelming pull of apathy that occurs when we struggle with mental health.

“The stigma is still very much alive,” says Songs of Saving co-founder Nick Greto. “Even though we see more people talking about it in the arts, music and film, and even interviews, we’re still not comfortable talking about it in these live settings, whether it’s at your office or at home or at work.”

The idea behind the Feedback Sessions series, according to Greto and his partner in the nonprofit Charlie Gross, is create a comfortable space where the usual barriers between the artist’s performance and the audience participation are taken down, making the experiences of both parties less polarized.

Sounds of Saving is an innovative nonprofit that strives to fuel hope by celebrating the power of human connection to music.

Greto grew the original concept from a moment that occurred at an event for an acquaintance who took his own life. Deeply moved by emotion and empathy, he wanted to do something that would make a difference.

Greto kept going back to the times in his own life where he felt stuck, and how music was a consistent support that got him through those challenges.

He quickly thought about the similar relationships that others have with music, and came up with the idea to do a video a series featuring artists playing and speaking about the songs that were there when they needed them - a way of populating an often isolating online realm with more relatable content.

“I thought it would just be a side thing that I did, one video a month and that’s it,” explains Greto. “But then I started to meet with people in the mental health world, and it became clear that it could be much more than that.”

Ironically enough, Greto came to meet Gross, who has a background in music photography and psychotherapy, on Instagram.

They immediately clicked, and the two have been building Songs of Saving ever since, officially launching in September of 2019, which is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

“We’re trying to accomplish two things,” says Gross. “We’re using the power of music as a messaging vehicle, as well as a healing thing in itself, and we’re figuring out ways, once we reach people within that context, to also help them get help when they need it.”

Proceeds from the Feedback Sessions live performance series go toward supporting the further development of Songs of Saving’s vision: an easily-accessible online platform that brings “stories, support, and resources to creatives and all people seeking a way through the darkness.”

Sounds of Saving also announced a partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, in which the two organizations will release three new videos in 2020. According to data from the World Health Organization, one person loses their life to suicide every 40 seconds.

Greto and Gross know their mission still has a long way to go, but this weekend’s start of the Feedback Sessions series is just one step of many in their commitment to making an impact.

“Now we just have to see how willing they are,” says Greto. “And I think over time hopefully we’ll have more and more people willing to engage.”

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to connect with a trained counselor. The service is free, 24/7, confidential, and available across the United States.
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