We want to invest in Memphis’ most valuable asset: Its future. And we want to do so by building on its many existing assets. The same energy and elements that created soul, blues and that support Memphis’ iconic sound, can and should be used to instill in its youth agency, purpose,and meaning and to help make their communities vibrant spaces. Music gave many of us a chance to be seen for the first time, from naming your instrument with pride to finding kinship in the school choir. Every child, no matter where they live, deserves to be seen and deserves an opportunity to flourish; and music can help make this happen.

The positive impact of music engagement is measurable, tangible, and powerful. Research demonstrates the important role music-engagement focused youth development activities can play in offering youth the skills, attitudes, and behaviors needed to overcome barriers and succeed in school and life. Youth not only develop healthier identities through music, but they have the potential to forge closer bonds to musical mentors and in doing so to be a part of the city’s important cultural legacy. In Memphis, innovation, like music, is in our blood. Thoughtful investments in high-quality music programming for our youth can help ensure the city’s development into a vibrant hub for living, learning, and growing.