So, a few months ago, I got a random phone call from my high school ensemble instructor, Marge Nykaza!!!!! You have no idea what a great surprise this was. Ms. Nykaza (because it's hard to call my teacher by her first name, even though I'm 36... lol) let me know she was looking for an additional piano accompanist to work with her non-profit organization, Harmony, Hope & Healing.
HHH uses music to provide emotional and spiritual support to vulnerable individuals and families throughout the Chicago area. HHH helps people heal through the restorative power of music.... WOW! What a unique concept!
This organization serves the homeless, people going through addiction recovery, as well as victims of domestic violence. I was shocked I hadn't heard of them until now!
I started working with HHH at the beginning of 2017, and it has been awesome! It's been great working with Ms. Nykaza again, who has boundless energy and a huge heart. The funny thing is that I initially played the material more reserved and straightforward.... then Ms. Nykaza said "Ummm, I know you have more in you! Give me some more soul and more chords!" She basically asked me to "do the most"! I gladly obliged.
Speaking of the music, I have never had such a eclectic, multi-genre repertoire to work with! Literally, we've had set lists that have gone from Catholic hymns to Kirk Franklin to Alicia Keys to the Beach Boys! It's been a good challenge for me as a musician, to incorporate so many musical styles.
I've been glad to make some cool new friends through HHH. Gordon Mayer, the development director, posted a great interview of me on the HHH Blog! I've enjoyed working with Tina Villapando and Sophie Wingland, who are on the programming staff, and are also amazing vocalists and musicians! All together, these are amazing people I'm blessed to work with.
I greatly appreciate Ms. Nykaza and the HHH family for including me in their very important work in Chicago. Be sure to support the organization, and consider coming out to our annual gala, Heart Beat 2017, on April 30, 2017.