We here at HeadCount clearly believe music has an inherent ability to motivate and inspire.
But why is that?
"Music just touches a place deep inside people that makes them feel really good," said Leaving a Positive Legacy's Ann Kenworthy. "And when they're feeling really good, they want to put that good energy back into the world."
It seems natural, then, that organizers of some of the feel-goodiest events of the year – Jam Cruise and Caribbean Holidaze – would launch a nonprofit aimed at putting that good energy back into the communities they visit.
Positive Legacy formally launched as the nonprofit arm of Cloud 9 Adventures earlier this year, though the group has conducted charity drives to benefit a Jamaican girls orphanage for the past two years.
More recently, fans and artists on Jam Cruise 8 participated in an intercultural celebration in Jamaica and learned about reef protection in Grand Cayman – donating time, money, and resources to benefit both efforts.
"Over the years, as Jam Cruise has traveled to different Caribbean countries which are much less fortunate than the United States, music fans carried around a little sense of guilt with them as they stepped off this luxurious cruise ship and into impoverished areas," Kenworthy said. "So we try to create events to make people feel better and bridge that gap."
The Positive Legacy team visited Claremont's Rural Retreat Community Center in Jamaica during last year's Carribean Holidaze. They learned about its residents' dream of starting a marching band if they could only afford instruments. Music Matters and Cloud 9 Adventures came to the rescue and donated a full set of instruments.
In addition to $15,000 of instruments, the crew also contributed funds for the center to purchase tables and chairs; soccer cleats and uniforms to outfit two local teams, and a weed whacker for the soccer field; seven refurbished laptop computers, donated by passengers and installed with fresh operating systems and wireless network cards; 80 backpacks filled with school supplies; and money for local cooks to prepare a traditional Jamaican meal to celebrate the relationship. In all, more than $25,000 worth of goods were donated to the Center.
"We just want to connect with them as human beings," Kenworthy said. "That's our focus, connecting people together. We come from such different worlds but we share our humanity with one another."
During the celebration, local children treated the participants to spoken-word and dance performances. Local musicians also joined Jam Cruise artists – including members of the Motet, Hot Buttered Rum, and Toubab Krewe – in a jam session.
Leaving behind a lasting memory of that special day, South Florida artist Dave "LEBO" Lebatard painted a mural on the community center's wall.
The following day, the Positive Legacy team hosted a benefit in Georgetown, Grand Cayman, for the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF). Roughly 140 Jam Cruise passengers and artists learned about REEF's efforts and what they could do to help.
Jam Cruise artists Hot Buttered Rum, Tim and Nicki Bluhm, Tim Carbone, and Ryan Montbleau provided oceanside entertainment at the Sunset House Resort. Cloud 9 Adventures presented a check for $1,000 to the REEF educators on hand.
"I pinch myself about having the opportunity to be involved in this sort of work," Kenworthy said. "Finding connections with people in these communities who are able to work with us is so meaningful. And the fans and artists who connect with them, I can see in their eyes and smiles how much they get out of this. It brings a much deeper level of meaning to traveling around the world for music."