I remember being at a show somewhere between 2006 and 2007 seeing a bunch of girls standing together all wearing these identical shirts with this phrase "To Write Love On Her Arms" on them. When I asked them if these shirts were from some new brand, one of the girls told me to just Google it and check it out--so I did.
After some research I found out this wasn't some new brand--it was actually a non-profit wholly committed to finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. 'Okay, so this is something I can get behind,' I thought, 'because if something like this is going on and kids are telling me about it, it must be working.' It turns out TWLOHA has raised and donated over a million dollars and responded to more than 170,000 messages and emails from more than 100 countries since its inception.
The people from this organization hit me up the other day to tell me about this event they do every year called Heavy and Light, which they stress is NOT a benefit show, but more of a forum for discussion. This is actually what the TWLOHA founder Jamie Tworkowski had to say:
"HEAVY AND LIGHT is an attempt to move people. Music is a big part of the night, because music has the unique ability to remind us we're alive. Songs have a way of saying it's okay to ask questions, and it's okay to feel things deeply. More than anything, we want folks to know that, when it comes to their struggles, it's okay to be honest, and it's okay to ask for help."
So, this brings us to the video below--basically, the encore of this year's Heavy and Light included all the artists who played the show, people like Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, Mary Lambert (from the Macklemore track "Same Love"), The Summer Set, Tristan Prettyman and they covered the legendary Bill Withers "Lean on Me." This is pretty epic, the idea that all these people got together for the cause with no hidden agenda, and ultimately had a blast.
I'm pretty stoked that something like this exists, and that in just seven years it's grown to be so largely effective. Check out more on this year's Heavy and Light event at the House of Blues Orlando HERE and learn more about TWLOHA HERE. Follow the non-profit on Twitter HERE and if you're so inclined, do get involved!