One of my favorite things about Nashville is the level of collaboration in our artistic and social service communities. The city is full of artists and non-profits working together to make better art and build a better city; a better region; a better world. Dear Music is one of those organizations and one that deserves your attention. Driven by founder and executive director Victoria Franklin, Dear Music provides inspirational and positive community events that revolve around the performing and visual arts. The organization’s mission is to present, promote and preserve the arts through arts advocacy and community involvement.
This relatively young organization was born in a Nashville apartment in 2015 when Victoria realized that her calling was to provide individuals with a platform to hone their performing skills and deploy their talents in ways that benefit the community. Victoria grew up in Chicago as part of a family that embraced and encouraged creativity. Both parents were musicians and singers and she spent her early years involved in art and music programs throughout her community. Her experience in a variety of church and community choirs not only honed her performing skills but helped her to see the importance of music and art in healthy communities. After high school, she found her way to Nashville where experiences with our spoken word community and more opportunities to sing opened the doors to collaborate with other artists. It was that collaboration; the opportunity to work with some many different artists and different kinds of artists, that gave birth to Dear Music.
Dear Music, she explained to me, is personal. It is a reflection of her love of the arts and her love of the community. She wanted to write a letter to the music that was so important to her and to the artists who were her friends and colleagues and say “Hey! We need an outlet to use our talents to bless other people.” Dear Music was the result. Through Dear Music, Victoria connects artists who have a desire to better their community to organizations that can channel those talents and focus them on specific issues and solutions.
Dear Music is personal for Victoria and it embodies much of her personality. She is, like the organization that she directs, a connector. Our conversation was full of explorations of who each of knows and who each of us should know and how we can work together to make Nashville a better place. I got the feeling that most conversations she takes part in play out that way. She connects you to her people and invites, if not draws out, your people as well; all the while shaping and expanding a vision of a Nashville where the arts help build the community and the community helps to strengthen the arts. It is an infectious vision.
The past year has been a busy one for Dear Music and for Victoria. To help support the Oasis Center, a nationally-recognized organization on a mission to help young people in Middle Tennessee move into a happy, healthy, and productive adulthood, Dear Music reached out to the artistic community. Artists from all over the region donated items which were sold in a silent auction. Not only did that auction provide financial support for the Oasis Center but it helped those artists find new admirers. They also supported the recent Nashville Annual Black Excellence Expo, which spotlights and celebrates the spirit of excellence in education, arts and culture in the African American communities of Nashville and the surrounding areas.
Dear Music is currently involved in the Envision Nolensville Pike Transportation Project, an initiative led by Conexión Américas to assemble a variety of resources to enhance the Nolensville Corridor arts, safety, and transit. Dear Music is providing an art placement that will be located at the intersection of Nolensville Pike and Thompson Lane.
These events, like the many in which Dear Music participates, all share a common theme. They provide not only a platform for artistry but also a platform for artists to raise awareness about issues in the community that are important to them. They also provide a platform for those artists to raise money for the organizations that work to address those issues. The events are as varied as the artists themselves but through them all, you find Victoria Franklin’s passion for connecting artists to make them better artists and better humans.
This article first appeared on Live, Laugh, Love Nashville on October 7, 2017