"Music for a cause." You've heard it, and it's not good. Go ahead and listen to "We Are the World" for a refresher.
But sometimes music does serve a cause other than inflating a performers ego. Americana artist Adam Smith, who performs September 9 and 10 at Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Marketplace, respectively, didn't just sign up to sing as part of Teen Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Awareness Week because it looked good on the songwriter resume. Smith actually spent time with Teen Lifeline counselors in action.
"I got to spend an afternoon with them, taking calls, listening, I'm not trained to do that. I got to observe and kind of listen, and make friends with some of the counselors," Smith says. "I thought it was just such an amazing thing that they were donating their time. It really moved me."
Inspired, Smith wrote an EP about his experiences, A Friend is a Stranger.
"I've performed at several Teen Life Line events," Smith says. "I've done a couple benefits for them, and of course all the proceeds from the sale of that record go one hundred percent to Teen Lifeline."
Smith and his partner, Jim Coletti recently closed their art gallery, theSPACE, which presumably will give Smith more time to focus on music.
"It resonates with me so much, because so much about what the emotional work I do in my music runs along the same lines," Smith says. "Kids really need an alternative to parents and church and to school, that they can reach out to. That's a space I try and provide in my songwriting and my music. People should feel like they don't have to fit into a certain mold to feel loved...Teen Lifeline definitely provides a similar thing. It's confidential, and they are not there to judge, whatsoever. They are there to provide coping skills, [and] people call in for all sorts of reasons, not just suicide."
Smith believes that music has the power to help touch people. He's not insane about it--stating he's touched the lives of personal friends more than the masses. But he recognizes the way music can help share a message.
"That's the best thing you can hope for, as a friend or a musician, to make that kind of different in someones life," Smith says. "I've had people come up to me after shows who are not my intimate friends, who have come up to me...to really know that your life is affecting others."
Suicide Prevention Awareness week is the first week of September, and Adam Smith performers September 9 and 10 at Desert Ridge Marketplace and Tempe Market Place, with Ryan Nicholson and The Scorpius Dance Theatre.