Carlehr Swanson spreads unity in music
January 4, 2018 / by Natalie Kuadey
Carlehr Swanson has been singing all her life.
The George Mason University jazz studies major with a concentration in voice was crowned Miss State Fair of Virginia in October.
Just as important as the title, though, is the opportunity Swanson said it provides for her to promote “Music is Unity,” an initiative she created that is dedicated to bringing music to others.
“Music has always been something really close to my heart, and I found that during hard times in my life, music had been that positive outlet for me,” said the junior, whose first name is pronounced Car-lee-ah. “By establishing this platform, I’m able to share music with others who don’t typically get to experience it.”
Swanson, who also is a classically trained pianist, reaches out to local public schools and nursing homes in her hometown of Richmond, Va., to shine light on the benefits of music as an outlet for stress release and healing. She also performs.
“My first nursing home visit started when my grandmother fractured her back and was placed in a rehabilitation/nursing home,” Swanson said. “I visited my grandmother every day, and soon realized some of the other patients didn’t have people visiting them. By having us there for an hour during their day, it really brightened their moods. Music truly has the ability to do that for people.”
That, she said, is the basis for Music is Unity, which Swanson hopes to develop in schools in Virginia and across the country through music, theater and arts programs.
Swanson believes that musicians have an obligation to share their talent with others, with the hope it will leave a lasting impression.
“A professor once told me that someone is going to come into our concert hall with a heart that needs mending, a mind that needs settling, and music will be able to fix that,” she said. “I know personally music for me has been that outlet.”
Said Darden Purcell, director of jazz studies in the School of Music: “Carlehr has such radiant energy, and I love that she is spreading her positivity musically. Music is a truly powerful expression, and I could not be more proud of her accomplishments giving back to the community.”