Guest Post

Healing and Community through music – To Write Love on Her Arms


“Where words fail, music speaks” – Hans Christian Andersen

Often, there are issues and situations we deal with where the words just don’t seem to come. When we’re dealing with the heavy things in our lives, when we see friends and family suffering due to addiction or illness, it seems like no words are enough or that the words we have aren’t the right ones, and we often remain silent because we just don’t know what to say.

In spring of 2006, To Write Love on Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski was in much the same place. A friend named Renee was struggling and was open to seeking help, but the next steps were unclear. Over the course of the next five days, Jamie and a group of his friends came together to help Renee, to give her a steady place to stand and to help her to begin to start on a path to recovery. Those five days are described mostly in a series of concerts. In his reflections on this time, Tworkowski turns an interesting phrase: “Stories wait for endings, but songs are brave things bold enough to sing when all they know is darkness.”

The story and the community spread. Beyond Renee, the blend of well thought words and songs that came from all different places of healing and hurting grew into a community. To Write Love on Her Arms has been partnering with musicians since the very beginning, using music to stand in where the words don’t come, encouraging others to do the same, and creating safe spaces for hard conversations to happen. The constant message of the organization is that even when things are difficult, hope is real, and stories are worth seeing through.

These days, the organization is still the roots of it all, but members of that community have taken things into their own hands as well. On August 6th, an eclectic collection of alternative, dance, and rock acts united by support of the TWLOHA cause take the stage at Jammin’ Java for a benefit show. If you’d like to support the organization and enjoy a great show while you’re at it, more information on that benefit show can be found on the venue’s website.

These days, Renee is doing pretty well. She’s making her own music now with her band Bearcat, and she’s played Jammin’ Java a few times herself. Last fall she played a tour with local artist and fellow TWLOHA supporter Andy Zipf that made a stop in Vienna.


You can follow Renee and Bearcat at her website.

More information about TWLOHA including further events and information can be found at their website.