I was honored to work as a mentor with the United By Music North America artists for the a few years, including performances in St Louis & Memphis. Here is some background about this wonderful program:
United by Music, a performance-based program for musically talented people with development and intellectual challenges and delays, was created in The Netherlands in 2006 by Joris van Wijngaarden, a Netherlands health care industry executive. Entertainer Candye Kane worked with van Wigngaarden to hone the concept behind United by Music in The Netherlands.
When van Wijngaarden wished to expand this unique program to North America, Kane suggested he speak with nonprofit industry expert and music supporter Barbara Hammerman. He did, and the result was a methodical process of testing the concept in the U.S. and Canada and the founding of United by Music North America by Hammerman and Amanda Gresham, music festival and event producer.
Hammerman and Gresham work with a team of professional musician mentors and supporters, find the musical talents for the program, work in weekly sessions to create performance shows and play at festivals and events. There is no fee to the artists to be a part of the program. Once selected, all mentor sessions and other activities are primarily paid through generous donations from the public. United by Music North America is a registered 501(c((3) charitable organization.