Using Music as an Outlet for Disadvantaged Kids and Adults

Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Jody Joseph-Bongiovi, Founder & President, Heartstrings, who describes how music has touched her life and how Heartstrings works with disadvantaged kids and adults to inspire and provide a creative outlet through music.

9/19/19 #2245






"I'm Steve Adubato. This is at NJTV Studio in Newark. And this is Jody Joseph-Bongiovi. Yeah. And she's the founder and president of an organization called Heartstrings, which is? A nonprofit that helps underprivileged children and adults to use music to enhance their lives. Why is it so important? Well, because I'm a living, breathing example of what it's done for me. I've used songwriting and singing as a way in which to vent, as a way in which to be able to express my feelings, my hurts, my joys, and not everybody gets that opportunity. I teach privately. And when I had some people go on hard times, I would just carry them and say, "Don't worry about paying." And I realized, "What if I made this on a really big scale?" And my accountant says "you're crazy." Well, crazy I am. I said, "I'm gonna do this." And I met up with people that knew what they were doing, and several times, I thought this is something I probably shouldn't have gotten into, but we're two years strong, and we've touched the lives of so many people through music. So... You grew up in a musical family? Yes. But I'm older than Jon. So... I didn't even ask you about Jon! I... [laughter] I wasn't going to... It's okay. [laughter] It's okay. So you...? Oh, you do know that guy? Yeah. First cousin. Music all around? My grandfather was a self-taught musician who never graduated. I think he didn't even graduate eighth grade. And he played the accordion, and every single instrument. Wow. And I had a lot of talent. My first cousin was Robert Hegyes from Welcome Back, Kotter. My brother was married to Bob Newhart's daughter. So it's always been, like, all over, around me, like, pew pew pew, you know? It's so interesting. Yeah. So now, with Heartstrings, what do you do for these kids and where do you do it? Because you partner with... And adults. And adults? Yeah. Give us an example. Well one of the places that we visit is New Hope Discovery, and that's in Marlboro. That was our... I guess, our pilot, and it was very scary going in because these... you know, you're not going into something that is nice and cushy. You're going to broken... a broken environment. You know, these kids are there. A lot of them don't want to be there. The sad part is I brought music therapy in for songwriting and one of the girls I was working with, you know? I mean the sadness of how she got the drugs, the story behind it was just devastating. This is a drug rehab facility? And alcohol. And I guess self abuse. Some of them..."