Originally published in the Summer + Fall 2020 issue.
Mindfulness comes in many forms. Just as each individual is unique, so are our methods of connecting with the here and now. Whether it’s something routinely associated with mindfulness such as meditation, or perhaps something like tending to our house plants, these moments of connection are precious. They infuse our souls with peace and a deeper appreciation for the mundanity of day-to-day living.
One powerful tool to enhance mindfulness is music. Although its origins remain a mystery, it is evident that music has been an intrinsic piece of our collective culture for thousands upon thousands of years. To this day, music is a staple in our lives. Whether you’re listening to your favorite tune on your commute or singing along with a band you love at a music festival, there’s an undeniable sense of presence when you’re engrossed in a musical experience. And, creating music yourself can be an even more captivating venture.
Executive music producer and change-maker, Terry Josiah Sharpe, knows first-hand how transformative music can be. “Music is emotion. It’s our emotions in sound,” he affirms.
Since he was young, music played a key role in his life. His mother was the music director for a church — that meant he and his siblings were immersed in all things music. Sharpe laughed as he recalled them being “the only kids in the hood singing The Sound of Music.” In retrospect, he realized that his mother was teaching them the foundations of the art all along. Music was in his DNA.
Despite his upbringing, he was initially interested in pursuing a career in clothing design after high school. He had plans to attend school for fashion and design, but after 9/11 shook the nation, his trajectory took a dramatic turn. He enlisted in the military, traveled the world serving the country and eventually landed in Texas. As his time in the military ended, music started to pique his interest once again.
He found his way to The University of Texas El Paso where he studied music and creative writing. This opened up a world of opportunity. During this time, he signed with an independent record label and had the chance to tour with them. This is where his passion for music production ramped up.
Eventually, Sharpe amicably split with the record company, moved back to his hometown of San Diego and started his own music company. His goal was to help create music for a cause, which gained a fair amount of success for the five years it ran. But, as the company flourished, Sharpe was facing turmoil in his personal life.
PTSD, heavy drinking and a brief stint of homelessness threatened to destroy Sharpe’s inner world. Music was a dim lighthouse on the horizon; he kept his sights locked on as the storm raged on. But, with just about all odds stacked against him, he chose hope. He chose gratitude. He still keeps a count of the exact day he decided to focus more on the good in his life than the bad. That night, crashing on a friend’s couch, his whole life shifted.
Since that day, Sharpe has been a force for positivity. And he wants to show the world that they can make that change in their lives too. He dissolved his music company and moved to Colorado Springs with his wife. He wanted to shift away from music for a cause into music as a release. That brought him to his current roles as music producer at the Pikes Peak Library District and music executive at Anthem Music Enterprises. Through these ventures, he’s creating meaningful music and changing lives. The Colorado Springs community is welcome to join him in the studio to try their hand at music production — all free of charge.
“I almost want to say every day something transformative happens,” he gushes. Music speaks where words fail. Many of these community members feel disenfranchised in a world that praises endless productivity. But for that short time in the studio with Sharpe, they get a voice, a release. They get to just be. And maybe without even realizing it, they find their own brand of certified, grade A mindfulness.
Sharpe feels that music and gratitude are two huge components in the path to healing. And as a music producer, he hopes to help facilitate the creation of a truly impactful experience for guests of the studio. He’s confident music is a perfect avenue for just that — profound healing.
“Once people start healing themselves, the world becomes a better place,” Sharpe says. Each and every day, that’s exactly what Sharpe strives to help people achieve.