First annual ‘Hope for the Heart’ concert brings music to mental health scene

Event aims to spread mental health awareness through music

Macey VanDenMeerendonk

More stories from Macey VanDenMeerendonk

Is the Earth healing?
March 25, 2020

Photo by Sam Farley

Student performer Abbie Sonstegard was the first of three musicians at the event.

The Cabin became a gathering place for students and community members on Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. for the first annual Hope for the Heart concert. The event’s goal was to spread awareness for mental health, which was done through music by talents of students, faculty and community members.

Abbie Sonstegard, a first-year student, performed first at the event singing covers and songs blended together, such as “Stand by Me” and “Lean on Me.” She also covered “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, an Eau Claire-based artist.

Andrew Hanson, organizer of the event and technology specialist on campus, performed original songs written to go along with the theme of the event to help end the stigma toward mental illness.

“The goal is to start more conversations about mental health on campus, about the resources available here on campus for our staff and students and begin removing the stigma when it comes for asking for help with mental health,” Hanson said.

Hanson said he began reaching out to artists in July. He said he wanted to do something with the power of music to help get a message across that made an impact concerning topics that were hard in regular conversations.

“There is just something special about music and creativity that allows people to connect on certain topics that is not necessarily as easy to negotiate or as easy to navigate without the creative element,” Hanson said.

As students came in and out of the cabin, the artists played songs related to the theme whether it was covers or original pieces.

Kayla Cooper, sophomore nursing student, said she thought it was a good idea to spread awareness of mental illness for people, regardless of whether they are affected or not.

“I think any event similar to this could be really good for spreading awareness,” Cooper said.

Micah Ryan, a local artist, played “One Call Away” and “I Got the Feels,” both original songs, and covers like “Take Me to Church” and “The Rising Sun.” He said most of songs already followed the theme of “Hope for the Heart.”

“I think a lot of people, whether or not they are diagnosed or what-have you, they deal with all of this,” Ryan said. “It’s super important to bring awareness to this kind of stuff because there are so many people who just feel like they’re alone.”

Hanson said he hopes to expand the event in future semesters to improve and reach more students.