[A guest post by Dorothy Lee. -AC.]
Being a foster kid isn’t easy, however thanks to Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready, five youth from a non-profit organization in Seattle called Treehouse got an opportunity of a lifetime. Imagine having the opportunity to create music with a legendary musician such as McCready. Well that’s exactly what these five young musicians got.
Treehouse aims to help create opportunities and provide support for children and youth who have lived in foster care, and to encourage them to pursue their dreams. They have also been successful with their goal of increasing high school graduation rates for these young individuals. McCready became involved with Treehouse a decade ago when he volunteered to help wrap holidays gifts. According to The Seattle Times, McCready and his family along with Pearl Jam, have donated over $250,000 to the program over the past decade.
Last November, McCready welcomed five young musicians from the program into Pearl Jam’s recording studio for a once-in-a-lifetime experience which involved a four hour recording session. The result was a song called “Try So Hard”. These five young men ranged in age from 15 to 20 years old, and it was the first time any of them had played together. Here’s how McCready described the experience according to Rolling Stone:
“The song just organically happened. We were sitting around, and it was amazing that it came together the way it did. The guys had some rap going on, beat boxing, some guitars, bass and drums. They created a song, and I got to play along with it. It generally doesn’t happen that way, and it was really cool.”
McCready had some advice for the youth in regards to writing music. He emphasized the importance of writing for themselves first and foremost, and then “hope that people will respond to your honesty in terms of the music you’re creating”. The song debuted on Pearl Jam’s social media feeds last month on February 13th.
The experience was especially meaningful to Franky Price, a 20 year-old who has lived in foster care for two years. Price has struggled with depression and health issues, including a major heart condition that lead to him surviving through heart and back surgery in March last year. Price was inspired when he learned that McCready struggles with Crohn’s disease. Here are some words from Price according to Rolling Stone: “I found it inspiring to learn that he was somebody who had been through health scares and suffered from a lot of depression but that he’s still here today making music”.
Also mentioned by Rolling Stone, McCready believes that “there’s nothing more important than helping kids. If we can do that in grassroots organizations, hopefully that’ll spill over into the larger picture. You act locally, and it grows globally.”
As described by Billboard (and as seen in the video below), McCready shares Treehouse’s view that it’s important to pursue one’s dreams, and he advised the youth to “keep following their passion and to do it because they love it”. He pointed out that it’s important to believe in their dreams “because they’re the ones that have to” and sometimes no one else will believe in them. He also encouraged them to have confidence in themselves to say “‘I want this dream, and this is how I need to get it. These are the steps I need to take.’ Then hopefully you’ll surround yourself with good organizations like Treehouse and good people that can help you on that way.”
McCready feels that the recording session was an “enlightening” experience and is grateful that an organization like Treehouse exists. Here are some more words from McCready as mentioned by Billboard:
“That’s kind of the point of being a good human being. I’m proud to know them. It was an honor to be a part of it. It was really fun. Everybody should help Treehouse. They’re doing good work for foster kids. The world is so divided, right now. I’m drawn to groups that bring good people together. Maybe that makes the world a little bit better. Let’s please do that.”
Take a look at the video.