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Working for Justice Through Song

Responding to God's Call

August 2013

Singer-songwriter Heatherlyn, who contributed to Bread for the World Institute’s new Songs for 1,000 Days CD, performs at Bread for the World’s 2013 National Gathering on June 11, 2013, in Washington, D.C. Rick Reinhard for Bread for the World

For singer-songwriter Heatherlyn, music is more than a job. It’s her calling, her way of responding to God’s call to do justice in the world.

“I think all of us are artists on some level, because I believe we’re created in the image of the Creator, to co-create this world, each with a different gift that we’re given and unique ways that God wants to manifest love, healing, wholeness, and reconciliation in the world.”

Through “storydwelling,” she seeks to honor and amplify individuals and communities relegated to the margins of society.

“We all have a voice. We all have a story. We all have a perspective. None of us will begin to see the ‘big picture’ without the perspective of others coming from various vantages of personality, geography, economy. Some voices have been marginalized, silenced, and dishonored. This is a disgrace to the human race.”

When asked to contribute an original song for the Songs for 1,000 Days project, a collaboration between Bread for the World Institute and Women of Faith for 1000 Days, Heatherlyn readily agreed. At the time, however, she didn’t immediately notice the connection between her own experiences and the issue of maternal and child nutrition.

“I had a difficult childhood. I was raised by a single mom, and we were on WIC for a while. I know there were times in my life when I wasn’t exactly hungry, but our resources were limited…the subsidized, highly processed, non-nutritive foods were a huge part of my younger years. And my mom and I both have suffered a lot of health issues in our lives because of that.”

While watching A Place at the Table at the 2013 National Gathering, Heatherlyn heard stories of mothers and children struggling to feed themselves, and increasingly saw how hunger, food insecurity, economic systems, and poverty intersect. She also recognized the importance of multiple levels of support and interventions for her family.

“One of the reasons we weren’t hungry [in terms of lack of food] is because of community. Our faith community surrounded us. At the same time, it’s significant to note that there were government programs that we needed for a while, but my mother didn’t seek to stay on them indefinitely. People have that sort of bias about low-income people… I was very aware of socioeconomic prejudice. But it was a both/and for us. We needed [the financial support], and we needed community. And we needed things to get better.”

Community continues to play an important role in Heatherlyn’s creative vocation. She looks forward to the unfolding of her story as an artist in connection to Bread for the World.

“I felt like all the people from Bread were incredible, really sincerely warm and an embracing presence. I felt like I was a part of Bread right away…It seems like the relationship is continuing and growing, and I’m really excited.”

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