ARTICLE CONTRIBUTED BY YOUTH ON RECORD | PUBLISHED ON TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2022
A funk-soul-rock band from Louisiana that marries spirituality, protest, Black feminism, and Afrofuturism, Seratones will headline the Underground Music Showcase‘s inaugural Impact Show on Saturday, July 30.
Led by the enigmatic frontwoman and reproductive rights advocate A.J. Haynes, Seratones will join more than 600 artists to perform during the Underground Music Showcase (UMS), Denver’s largest multi-day, multi-venue festival. The Mental Wellness Impact Show will take place on the festival’s largest outdoor stage, the “Showcase Stage” on Broadway and Archer.
Seratones were most recently seen on The Late Show with Steven Colbert, and released their album, “Love & Algorhythms,” on April 29th, 2022, under New West Records. Youth on Record’s team met the band in February 2017 when they performed at YOR’s recording studio as a part of the nonprofit’s YOR Sessions.
“Seratones are the ideal band to orient our audience to mental wellness for all. Not only are they focused on the good – but they are real and authentic when discussing the more distressing and painful parts of life. Their music lifts you, makes you feel your feelings, and make you feel better,” says Jami Duffy, UMS Co-Manager and YOR Executive Director. “Seratones provide a magical experience and we’re so excited to share it with our community of UMS fest goers.”
New to UMS this year, the Impact Show is part of a festival-wide focus on supporting mental wellness and the prevention of substance misuse among musicians and an anticipated 10,000 festival attendees. Other mission-aligned programs include Impact Days, a two-day, industry-focused summit that will connect artists, music industry and community leaders for resource-sharing and skill-building; and Sober Bars, which will provide alternatives to traditional bars at each of the festival’s mainstage venues. More information on each program is below.
The focus on mental wellness and substance misuse prevention was born of a new partnership between Youth on Record and Two Parts, which joined forces in March in an effort to expand the festival’s social impact with a threefold focus of Artistic Excellence, Community Impact, and Economic Sustainability. The word is catching on, and some of Colorado’s most respected mental wellness funders and providers are coming to the table with financial contributions and resources in support of the new mission-alignment at UMS. The Colorado Health Foundation, Rose Community Foundation, Caring for Denver Foundation, and Colorado Enterprise Fund are early supporters of the music festival’s focus on mental wellness, with more supporters joining each week.
Jami Duffy, Executive Director of Youth on Record and Co-Manager of the UMS, says the partnership created a unique opportunity to support Denver’s diverse creative community, which has faced unprecedented challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mental wellness is at the forefront of our minds, especially the mental wellness of historically under-represented artists and musicians,” says Duffy, who led the Denver-based nonprofit to invest in the UMS following a $1M grant from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. “Musicians and artists did so much to care for all of us over the past two years. Their art calmed us, healed us, and got us through. So our question is: What’s getting our artists through? How can a music festival support artists and lift audiences at the same time?”
Why focus on mental wellness and substance misuse prevention?
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, young creatives and artists in Denver were 25% more likely to suffer from mental health and substance misuse issues. The chronic stress of the past two years – which brought civil unrest, racial injustice, and severe economic instability within the creative industries – greatly intensified these challenges.
Many of these stressors were experienced most acutely within communities of color. Yet the stigma associated with mental health treatment, as well as a historically rooted mistrust of medical and mental health professionals, often prevents individuals of color from seeking the care they need.
A music festival is an opportunity to reduce stigma by providing health and accessible resources for wellness within a community of care. By creating an environment where mental wellness and substance misuse are discussed openly, those who struggle with either or both issues will know that they’re not alone – and may leave the festival more ready to seek support in the future.
Impact Show, Saturday, July 30
A new feature that will become a hallmark of every UMS, the Impact Show will showcase an artist on the UMS mainstage who is committed to an issue that impacts everyone. Community organizations engaged in that issue will be invited to participate. The goal is to expand these impact shows year over year in an effort to tie UMS artists to a broader mission of community impact through music.
In keeping with this year’s focus on mental wellness, leading community organizations that work in mental health will be on site to connect and provide resources to performing artists and attendees.
Impact Days: Wednesday, July 27 & Thursday, July 28, noon-6 pm daily
A two-day intensive hosted by Youth on Record and open to all musicians and artists participating in the UMS, Impact Days will serve as an industry-focused kick-off for the festival. Artists, music industry and community leaders will provide skill-sharing workshops, networking, professional development, and wellness coaching opportunities to local and emerging artists. Focused on artmaking, Impact, and Economic Opportunity, Impact Days are designed to build the foundation for institutional resources that will serve musicians, artists, and the creative industries for years to come.
Dozens of industry and arts leaders will host panels, workshops and coaching sessions; industry and arts leaders will be paid for their time. During the pilot year, the event is free to all participating artists. Between sessions, participants will be invited to participate in “care” practices including yoga, access to mental health resources, sober bars, and healthy foods.
Also new this year, UMS will provide alcohol-free refreshments at Sober Bars at all mainstage venues. Sober Bars are for everyone, and are part of a mission-aligned strategy to:
Provide alternatives to alcohol, to slow down the rate of consumption and keep festival attendees and performers safe
Provide high-quality, alcohol-free alternatives to those who abstain from alcohol for a whatever reason
Normalize the choice to stay sober or drink less
Tickets to the UMS are on sale now. A portion of all sales will benefit Youth on Record.
For information on philanthropic and corporate sponsorship, visit Youth on Record’s website.