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McNally Smith Presents Dissonance: A Concert/Conversation Focusing On Mental Health

In observance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, McNally Smith College of Music presents a very special concert/conversation entitled Dissonance: Mental Health and Music on Tuesday, September 18 at 6:00 p.m in the Sound Bite Cafe. The free event—a forum focusing on the topics of suicide, mental illness and substance abuse—will be hosted by Sarah Souder Johnson (head of McNally Smith’s Counseling Services), moderated by Adam Levy (frontman of the Honeydogs and Assistant to McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers), and features special guest speakers/performers Haley Bonar and Johnny Solomon and Molly Moore of Communist Daughter.

Johnson hopes Dissonance will help spread awareness about campus and community resources for students grappling with mental health issues in their lives. “The idea of struggling with mental illness or addiction is often almost glamorized in music and in art,” says Johnson. “These struggles are not specific to musicians but they are prevalent in the music community—and for college students everywhere—and to open up a conversation is a good thing. It’s essential to talk about these things.”

Levy, Bonar and Solomon will discuss their experiences with mental health-related issues, and each will perform songs that speak to their personal trials and triumphs. Nine months ago,Levy lost his 21-year-old son, Daniel, to suicide following a long battle with mental illness. Bonar suffered from depression and anxiety as a teenager. Solomon has endured a 15-year struggle with bi-polar disorder and recently underwent treatment for substance abuse at Hazelden. Moore, Solomon’s fiancé, will speak about supporting her partner and bandmate as he comes to understand his addiction and mental illness.

Are musicians predisposed to increased susceptibility regarding mental illness and addiction? “There’s a lot of research being done on the creative mind and mental health/mental illness,” Johnson says. “There’s nothing definitive. It’s a chicken or the egg type of thing. For example, are you creative and therefore more likely to become depressed? Or, are you depressed and find that creativity is a healing  outlet for you?”

Johnson has been brainstorming with David Lewis, Director of Career Services at McNally Smith, over the past couple of years on how to effectively de-stigmatize the ideas of mental wellness and recovery, and how to build up support for those struggling on campus. Dissonance grew out of those conversations when considering how to deliver that message in a relevant way to McNally Smith students—through music. Johnson and Lewis hope the event will become an annual affair with the help of various local artists contributing to the culture of self-care and support in the music community.


Dissonance: Mental Health and Music
with special guests Adam Levy, Haley Bonar and Johnny Solomon from Communist Daughter
Tuesday, September 18th, 6PM  @ McNally Smith’s Sound Bite Cafe
19 East Exchange Street, St Paul MN 55101
Free for students