Profile Type: Cultural Nonprofit
Cultural Nonprofit
Music to Life

Established in 2000 by Noel Paul Stookey (of the folk trio, Peter, Paul & Mary) and his daughter, Liz Sunde, Music to Life (MTL) is a national nonprofit that builds activism through music.  By offering financial, technical and logistical assistance, MTL helps social justice troubadours integrate their vision with nonprofit and advocacy groups to create highly visible, music-driven programming that supports social justice projects, increases awareness and empowers vulnerable populations.  We build bridges between the stage and activism.


Music to Life has collaborated with a broad network of artists, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and music industry leaders to explore how music might make positive, measurable social change. Our educational panels have traveled to schools and conferences around the country (including the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity, University of Pennsylvania and Dartmouth); we have been commissioned to deliver multimedia presentations on music’s historical impact on the issues of our time (Bloomberg Media, Future Work); and we have created and delivered high engagement, music-driven productions on behalf of human rights, environmental and immigrant advocacy groups (including a collaboration with South by Southwest). We’ve reached tens of thousands of people through the power of music.


In 2017, having developed a national network of hundreds of stakeholders and a diverse, juried roster of more than 300 social change artists, we shifted our focus. We began to explore how we might best support those social change musicians who were stepping off the stage and into activism. We conducted surveys to determine their needs and interests and national searches for “best practice” examples of music-driven impact among activist musicians, in collaboration with nonprofits (like the Rubicon Theatre in California and the Cincinnati Blues Society), and via artist advocacy groups like Artivism and Sankofa.  Meeting with these artists around the country, we uncovered many insights into musicians and their often untapped potential as community change agents; they were working on issues of tremendous value to their communities but they were struggling to sustain their efforts and create the impact they wanted. We could then envision the expanded spheres of influence and impact these artists might have if they were more effectively connected with the mentors, partners, and resources they need to build effective programs.

Thus Music to Life’s Activist Musician Accelerator (AMA) was born: the AMA is the first incubator of its kind in this country for social change musicians and their communities. The AMA offers a new, accessible and vibrant tool to reinvigorate our neighborhoods by identifying talented activist artists and helping them design, facilitate and sustain music-driven social change projects, in collaboration with front line communities, for creative and measurable impact.  Offered as a hands-on, immersive, educational process, selected artists are paid to become part of a learning network – connecting with each other in person and online through workshops and mentoring sessions.  The goal is for each artist to develop a pilot project, in collaboration with an area nonprofit and other allies. As part of their graduation from the program, Music to Life helps them produce a Tedx-style showcase of their work in a ticketed event that raises awareness for the issue and funds for the pilot.   


Additional Links: 

I Have Worked With

  • September 2019

    Music to Life partnered with the Southwest Regional Folk Alliance (SWRFA) to create a music for social change “arm” of the SWRFA organization and their conference that promotes the organization’s progressive values and supports  its musician members as community change agents.

    The partnership was launched through three key activities:

    1. Texas-wide search for musicians with concepts for social change programs (screened for talent, years of activism and feasibility of concept)
    2. Panel - " Start a Creative Revolution" - focused on how social change musicians can identify resources, partners and mentors to help them develop effective music-driven programming. 
    3. MtLx Showcase - a Tedx-style blend of music, storytelling and call to action, featuring an activist artist - Vanessa Lively - who, with seed funding from Music to Life, founded Home Street Music (a field tested song circle model that offers the homeless creative and expressive pathways to trust, confidence and dignity)


  • August 2019

    As part of its rural Activist Musician Accelerator project, Music to Life will partner with UVMC to launch a pilot program called Musicians as Mentors (M2). This pilot will identify at-risk youth who wouldn’t otherwise be involved in music education programming, and use original music and video creation as a path toward positive self-expression, identity formation, and pride of place.

    The partnership will facilitate a unique collaboration among a lead teaching artist (one of Music to Life's juried Activist Musicians), UVMC, and youth development agencies; the collaboration further opens innovative cross-sector learning opportunities and new channels of coordinated support for the youth of our communities.. This unconventional delivery model will address many of the barriers to participating in music education that at-risk youth face, including cost, transportation, and program structure.

    M2 is being developed in with professionals and organizations who regularly work with at-risk youth; in conjunction with the pilot, Music to Life is also underwriting the professional development of participating musicians through their Activist Musician Accelerator program, strengthening the prospect of its success and sustainability. 

  • December 2018

    Fundraising, field testing and focus groups for the Activist Musician Accelerator model in collaboration with Bay Area artists, local venue - Freight & Salvage, and UC Berkeley.

    Music to Life curated and coordinated a variety of activities during the week of 12/10/19 (overview video here) including:

    1. a dynamic performance-oriented panel for the UC Berkeley Alumni Association that facilitated a multigenerational exploration of music and social change
    2. two Visionary Lunches for entrepreneurial and creative strategists
    3. a day-long focus group with thought-leaders, philanthropists and artists to explore how to best support musician activists.   





  • Cultural Nonprofit

Contact Information

First Name: 
Job Title/Position: 
Executive Director
Mailing Address: 
POB 430
239 Gillette St
Wilder, VT 05088
Physical Address: 
POB 430 239 Gillette St
Wilder, VT 05088
Last Name: 


Profile Type: 
Cultural Nonprofit
Primary Discipline: 
Music - General
Additional Disciplines: 
Music - Composition
Music - Country
Music - Ethnic / World
Music - Folk
Music - Jazz
Music - Native American Drum
Music - New
Music - Pop / Rock
Music - R&B / Soul
Music - Rap / Hip-Hop
Year Founded: 
Populations Served: 
General Public
Institution/Business Type: 
Arts Service Organizations
Activities and Services: 
Arts for Social Change / Creative Activism
Community Arts
Creation of a Work of Art (Including Commissions)
Product Development Services
Professional Development / Training
Residency - Other
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Geographic Reach: