Jenn Hartmann Luck has always been passionate about two things: performing arts and working with young people.
By Tori Klein, Photos courtesy of Jenn Hartmann Luck
Jenn Hartmann Luck spends her life going in and out of songwriting, performance and singing. Imagining new and interesting ways for these talents to fit together. Young people and their arts education have been a thread throughout Luck’s professional and educational career. “Whenever I’ve stepped away from working with young people for too long, I find myself drawn back to them,” she says. The singer shares that this is mostly because of the joy they bring her and how much they have to offer the world. However, she underscored that her drive also comes from knowing the arts can change a kid’s life. This passion to blend the arts with young people, alongside a sudden plethora of time at home during quarantine, drove her to write and record Raise Your Voices.
Raise Your Voices: Behind the Album
Inside of COVID, Luck knew she wanted to write a new album and come back to the singer-songwriter she’d previously put on the backburner. Since she did not want to step away from her work with young people, she asked, “What if I interview kids who are doing great things? What if we listen to what they have to say about why they’re spending their time growing food and cleaning the oceans and fighting bullying?” Once Luck started doing interviews with inspiring kids, the purpose of her album became clear. Celebrating kids that are changing the world.
Every single song on the album has a nonprofit attached to it that a child selects. So, when you download a song from the album, 15% of the proceeds go directly to the nonprofit of the young person’s choice. In the case of “Kids Can Save Animals,” the money goes directly to Re:wild and aids their global conservation efforts. By downloading the song, you are actually doing something to save animals.
“Kids Can Save Animals”
The first single from Raise Your Voices, “Kids Can Save Animals,” features Austinite Kate Gilman Williams. “She’s a little rockstar,” says Luck. “It could not have been a more beautiful opportunity for me to sit down with her.”
Luck interviewed the 11-year-old author and animal conservation advocate in search of her “why.” She asked Williams, “Why do you do this? Why do you care? What happens if we don’t care?”
Luck also asks each child about their musical inspirations to help her understand how to put music to their passionate efforts to change the world. Williams really enjoys upbeat world music. So with this single, Luck emulated the energy of a Shakira hit. She combined upbeat positive music with a message of great gravitas. Conveying Kate’s love for animals and dedication to conservation efforts.
“Lemonade:” The New Single
The single, out today, celebrates a young girl from Chicago named Olivia Ohlson. While Ohlson has become an incredible do-gooder, it was unfortunately inspired by her mother’s breast cancer diagnosis. Ohlson was struck by the urge to do something to help her mom. So she did what any kid wanting to earn some money would do. Started a lemonade stand. Through her lemonade stands, she raised over $9,000 for the NorthShore University HealthSystem Kellogg Cancer Center, the facility where her mother received treatment.
The process for creating the song is the “same as with ‘Kids Can Save Animals,’” Luck says. “It’s really beautiful for me to be able to take their words and passions and compose a musical puzzle out of it.” The proceeds of this single go to the Kellogg Cancer Center, where Ohlson started a major campaign to raise money for cancer research when her mom recovered.
Inspiring Kids to Change the World
With Raise Your Voices, Luck wants kids to see that giving back is a cycle. She wants young people to hear this record and be inspired to try and make a difference in the world. “I want our audience, young and old, to think, ‘Oh, if those kids can do it, then so can I. I can find something in my community that needs help.’ We can all do small and big things to make a difference.”
“Lemonade” is out now, and the full album, titled Raise Your Voices: (Songs Celebrating the Kids Who are Changing the World), releases Sept. 10. Stream the single and support the NorthShore University HealthSystem Kellogg Cancer Center.