Hello everyone, CJ here. Before we launch into our April Autism Acceptance month posts, I’m going to venture away from our regular blogcast-programming. I’d like to share something a little different, a little more personal – so that you can learn a bit more about me, Director of The Musical Autist, nonprofit – and my beliefs behind running this organization.
Perhaps this is a small thing to some, but it’s a big thing to me. I’d like to share with you my #1 favorite artist currently. You might be surprised that I’m not going to name a jazz or a classical artist, since that’s what our mission is all about… “equal rights to the fine arts!” (Though just for the record, Brad Mehldau and Stanley Jordan are my favorite [living] jazz artists, Evgeny Kissin and Vladimir Ashkenazy are my favorite [living] classical artists.)
But like I said, this doesn’t have as much to do with autism and music therapy as it does me, and the type of stuff I’m made of. That being said, I’d like to introduce you to Josh Garrels. (if you like Beck and Ray LaMontagne, you will like this). In the past few years, both my husband and I have considered Josh’s music our most favorite, and not just because it’s fantastic music that we never get tired of listening to. It resonates with us because it aligns with how we live our lives as followers of Christ.
Unfortunately, I can only count one handful of Christian artists that I’ve ever loved listening to as much as I’ve loved the alternative and indie rock bands I grew up on in the 80’s and 90’s, for which there are dozens and dozens of artists whose lyrics I can sing word-for-word. And what I’ve learned in the past few years of my studies in the field of music therapy is just. how. powerful. song lyrics can be. I’ve learned the therapeutic power and a little neurology of how song lyrics get “entrained in the neural substraights,” aka “getting a song stuck in your head.” In the music therapy clinic, the client’s preferred music is most often the most powerful tool.
So why is all of this worthy of a blog post? Because here is what is so amazing to me. Josh Garrels decided that for two weeks he’d give away five of his albums on NoiseTrade for FREE, so that 100% of the donations would be given to WorldRelief to the crisis in Congo. Have you heard about the war in Congo? If you have, chances are you didn’t hear about it on the evening news. You can read this CNN article on why the world is ignoring Congo war, to educate yourself.
Someone pointed out to me, that the reason I am so moved by Josh’s act of generosity is because I can relate. They went into an explanation of how time and energy is as valuable as money, and that “for as much as you pour your time and energy into The Musical Autist, advocating for people on the spectrum that are overlooked in society (or even worse, pitied, or viewed as ‘diseased’) no wonder you can relate.” They also had no question that when we do get our nonprofit status and finally get some funding, my intention has always been to put 100% of people’s donations toward the cause.
I encourage you to check out Josh Garrel’s music in this link to NoiseTrade, listen to it all for free and if you like it, download it and make a donation to the efforts in the Congo.
In this video, Josh talks about what it means to him, to BELIEVE. Not just in anything, but in the One who created us, through Christ who was sent. In the past week, it’s also become apparent that through his belief, God’s work in him is to believe in the people of the Congo. So much so, he’s willing to give away his music – his livelihood – so that people would be enabled to donate to World Relief and help the innocent people who are suffering in this neglected part of the world.
In a like manner, it has been my spiritual faith and belief as a follower of Christ which spurs on my belief in people on the autism spectrum. My belief that there is so much more value to autistic people than just what we can see or hear based on outward appearance and behavior. That their minds and emotions are equal to those who are capable of expressing themselves through language and movement.
John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.”
Signing off til next time,