Growing up, the predominant topic around my family’s dining table was “Vocation.” The idea of vocational service has formed most of my life’s choices, including many surrounding my work in the arts. From the beginning of my unexpected career I have sought out ways to bring the transformative, healing power of music to as many people as I can – whether on stage, in prisons, refugee camps, or the classroom.
I spoke about this in my 2014 Commencement address for The Juilliard School:
“The truth is, you have signed up for a life of service by going into the Arts.
You are here to serve the words, the composer, the melody,
the author, the chord progression, the choreographer ~
but above all and most fundamentally,
with every breath taken, step forged, and stroke of the keyboard,
you are here to serve Humanity.
You are servants to the ear that needs quiet solace and the eye that needs the consolation of beauty,
servants to the mind that needs desperate repose or pointed inquiry,
to the heart that needs invitation to fight or silent understanding,
and to the soul that needs safe landing or fearless, relentless enlightenment.”
I know music can save lives, heal deep wounds, unify communities, and can bring real hope and comfort in the darkest hour. This is why I am an activist.