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Composer Molly Sturges launches new community music project; 'Stories That Heal'

Composer Molly Sturges (center) working on the group project ‘Firerock’ in New Mexico in 2014.
Kate Russell
Molly Sturges
Composer Molly Sturges (center) working on the group project ‘Firerock’ in New Mexico in 2014.

A new community wellbeing project is coming to northern lower Michigan.

‘Stories That Heal’ aims to help people heal from trauma through music and storytelling. It’s the brainchild of composer Molly Sturges. She’s partnering with Interlochen Public Radio, the Northwest Michigan Arts and Culture Network and a handful of other local organizations to bring it to life.

“I do believe that by being willing to share our stories, it helps us,” said Sturges. “Because [we are] trying to alleviate some of that isolation and shame that goes along with struggling.”

A lot of Sturges’ artistic work is collaborative. She’s written songs with people experiencing homelessness, communities grappling with border issues and people in hospice care.

“There are always challenges,” said Sturges, “But within those challenges, if we can … create something beautiful – even if it's not beautiful in a traditional way but beautiful in the way it expresses something real and truthful, I find that healing is always there.”

Sturges says music has helped her heal from trauma too. When she gave birth to her daughter, she says she lost about half the blood in her body. This influenced her semi-improvised album, ‘Prayers from the Underbelly’.

“It’s not easy listening,” said Sturges. “But it did help me turn towards pain and discomfort."

She says that helped her integrate her experience.

Her newest collaborative project, ‘Stories That Heal’, pulls inspiration from the many challenges that are present in 2022, whether it's the pandemic, the opioid crisis, rising levels of anxiety and depression or something else. Using the stories and anthems that emerge from the project’s workshops, she intends to create a community showcase about mental health and resiliency. But she doesn't want anyone to feel pressured to share.

A variety of workshops are available to encourage community participation. The work will appear in a concert in May. But Sturges says the project is about more than what is presented to the audience.

“I’m a big believer that these projects aren't just the song – it's the whole process, it’s everything that happens,” she said.

Learn more about the ‘Stories That Heal’ project and how to get involved.

Project Support:

‘Stories That Heal’ is a community partnership by the Northwest Michigan Arts & Culture Network with funding from Arts Midwest, Michigan Arts & Culture Council & National Endowment for the Arts.

Kendra Carr joined IPR as the All Things Considered host in 2019. She previously worked at WMOM in Ludington as the News Director. In 2017, WMOM received the Michigan Association of Broadcasters "Station of the Year" award.