Guitars 4 Gifts // Feature Friday
Written by: Kayla Lee
Guitars 4 Gifts
501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Happy Friday, ya’ll (or whatever day of the week it is where you are when you’re reading this)! Today, I’d like to introduce you to Anna Clark. Anna lives in Nashville, TN, and she’s making moves in the music scene, although not in the way that you might think. While Anna is a singer-songwriter, she’s also directly involved in the local community when it comes to making music accessible to all.
Anna is the founder of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization Guitars 4 Gifts, which aims to provide musical instruments to children and teens in underserved communities around the globe. It’s safe to say that you can clearly remember the first song that you heard that truly changed your life, and the first record, tape, or album that you purchased with your own hard earned money. There’s a connection that comes from music that many miss out on, due to the simple fact that it is not accessible. Anna’s here to change that.
Continue reading below to check out an interview with Anna where we talk about how Guitars 4 Gifts was formed, a recent songwriting competition that Anna organized, and more!
Q: Growing up, you knew that your passions were calling you to contribute to the music world in one way or another. At what point did your vision for Guitars 4 Gifts become clear, and what was the turning point where you knew that this is what you wanted to do to make a difference?
A: I think it was about a year ago when I realized that Guitars 4 Gifts was making a huge impact in people's lives. G4G was started in 2011, but about a year ago I was going back through some older stories of instruments we had given away. I noticed how much of an impact it was having on people's lives, and I realized that this is what I want to do. I realized how important it is for more people to have access to musical instruments because they had the desire to play music, but they don't have the tools they need.
Q: What can individuals do in their own communities to help children and teens discover the power of music?
A: I think that sharing your music and inspiring kids to get involved in the arts is a great way to get more teens involved in music. Most of the kids I meet don't know that they can be involved in music because they don't see people they know participating in the arts and sharing that with the next generation. I believe that just being able to share your gift and being willing to teach a kid who is inspired by your music a couple of chords can change their world.
Q: You recently hosted a songwriting competition -- what was that experience like?
A: It was fantastic! I loved getting more involved in the Nashville songwriter community because there are so many songwriters in Nashville who have an amazing story and want to help more children and teens get involved in music. It was cool to see how many people showed up to support them at the showcase we hosted.
Q: Music is an important way to bring people from all walks of life together. What's your earliest memory of discovering a musician or song, and what are the reactions from people who get to experience music for, perhaps, the first time through Guitars 4 Gifts?
A: My earliest memory of discovering music was listening to The Beatles with my parents in the car. I used to belt every song on the way home from school and I developed a love for listening to and discovering new music. Ever since I was little, I've felt a connection to music that I can't explain. Luckily, my parents signed me up for piano lessons and I was able to learn to play and write music. I met a lot of kids my own age who had a love for music, but didn't know how to get involved.
It's crazy, some of the reactions we get from people who receive instruments through Guitars 4 Gifts. We currently partner with an organization called CreatiVets which connects veterans with PTSD with hit songwriters who help them write a song about their experiences. One of them said that after writing a song they felt like a 30 year old weight was lifted off of their chest.
We also provided instruments to a group of teenage refugees who said that they had a hard time fitting in at school, and music helped them have something fun to look forward to everyday. I was able to go to a showcase they hosted a couple months ago, and they had put together a band with the instruments we donated.
Q: In order to reach more communities and make a difference in more people's lives, what plans are in the works for Guitars 4 Gifts for 2019?
We will also continue our songwriting competition to help more songwriters gain exposure and connect with other writers. We're also planning to partner with more international songwriting non-profits to help spread the gift of music all over the world and help give more teens a voice through music.