“Music saved me.” An interview with SUPERBANDS founder Jessica Villa

Music saved my life.”

It’s a phrase we’ve heard many times. It’s a phrase many of us can relate to. Think back to an artist, album or song, that when you first discovered, truly changed or saved your life. For SUPERBANDS founder Jessica Villa, this phrase took on a whole new meaning.

Jessica and I have two things in common – a strong love of the Jonas Brothers, and a desire to advocate for mental health. Jessica took her advocacy to new heights when she founded SUPERBANDS, a non-profit dedicated to bring music fans closer to their favorite artists and bands to empower them. They believe in the ability of music to heal, and want to bring that “night-to-remember” to as many super fans as they can through this unique opportunity. Let’s make wishes come true. SUPERBANDS can be found on Instagram and Twitter – click here to learn even more.

If you are in need of help, SUPERBANDS has a helpful resource on their website which may be found here.


SUPERBANDS MISSION:

SUPERBANDS IS A NONPROFIT 501(C)(3) DEDICATED TO BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF HOPE THAT LIVES AT THE INTERSECTION OF MENTAL HEALTH AND MUSIC. OUR MISSION IS TO RAISE GLOBAL AWARENESS FOR THE YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS AND PROVIDE THOSE WHO STRUGGLE WITH THE KEY RESOURCES AND SUPPORT THEY NEED. BY BRINGING YOUNG MUSIC FANS CLOSER TO THEIR FAVORITE ARTISTS AND BANDS THROUGH THOUGHTFULLY CURATED VIP EXPERIENCES AND VIRTUAL EVENTS, AND UNITING THEM THROUGH THE HONEST CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE SOUNDTRACKS OF THEIR LIVES, WE STRIVE TO REMIND EVERYONE TO ‘STAY STRONG AND KEEP ROCKIN’ ON’. 



Welcome Jessica! I’m so happy to have you here. To begin, could you please tell us a little bit about you and your background?

I never really expected to pursue anything in the world of nonprofits or entrepreneurship as a kid, to be honest. I ended up getting a degree in biology and after graduating college and being hit with the harsh reality of not getting into dental school as I planned, I took it as a sign to follow my heart and rediscover who I am. Living back at home post-college in my childhood bedroom, surrounded by old posters of the Jonas Brothers and concert memorabilia, I had flashbacks of my own teenage years and remembered the struggles I went through of bullying, depression, and suicide attempts.

At such a young age, I felt hopeless and lost, and found community through music. It was there that I had the idea for SUPERBANDS, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering young music fans who struggle with mental illness and to build a community through music. With no business experience under my belt and the mere funding I had from my first “grown up job”, I was determined to build up this organization no matter what it took.

How does the power of music relate to mental health? How has music empowered you?

I am sure most people have heard the saying “Music saved my life”. It’s something I had heard for years from friends and strangers alike, and that I had experienced myself firsthand – but a phrase that many do not think much into or really consider the power that music has in today’s world. Music gives people this incredible ability to escape reality and its lyrics (or simply the beat) bring us a connection that makes us feel like we are not alone.

No matter how bad a day was, I could drown it out with my favorite songs on repeat. No matter how awful a week was, I could count down the days until my next concert. At concerts, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere – surrounded by strangers who had the same love for these powerful songs as I did, who obsessed over these bands just as I did. Without music and the experiences that came with it, I honestly do not think I would be here today. I would have given up years ago without the songs that saved my life

Why is mental health awareness so important?

Mental health for years has carried this stigma, and quite honestly, a lot of shame, resulting in many keeping their struggles a secret or brushing their feelings under the rug. The youth mental health crisis specifically has been drastically growing, with numbers climbing higher and higher every year. With the increased pressures to succeed in school and extracurriculars, as well as the consistent reminders and comparison via 24/7 connection on social media, I truly worry about our future leaders.

While the conversation around mental health is slowly starting to become normalized and accepted, we still have a long way to go. It takes a village – and I am honored to be a part of the village that is working to make that important change. 

What is your ultimate goal of SUPERBANDS?

SUPERBANDS was a little idea to build a community that lived at the intersection of mental health and music, but over the years, it became so much more than that. It became a beacon of hope for those who felt lost and alone. It became a source of belonging for those who felt outcast. Beyond just providing a safe space to talk about our mental health struggles as openly as we did about our favorite bands and artists, I knew that SUPERBANDS had to be so much more.

The goal of SUPERBANDS is not just to raise global awareness for the youth mental health crisis, but to provide as many young music fans the ability to have an unforgettable VIP experience (whether in-person, or virtual) at a concert to give them memories to hold on to when life gets hard. This special night will give them a glimmer of hope that can make a difference in their bullying and/or mental health journey, and to remind them that they are not alone. While yes, I’d love to change the world – one wish at a time – but if SUPERBANDS can just make one fan’s wish come true, I’ll know I did my job. 

How can people support SUPERBANDS?

SUPERBANDS aims to make its first (big) wish come true in 2021 right here in the Greater Philadelphia area, where it all began. As a budding nonprofit, we are always looking for corporate sponsors, partners, and/or donors to be a part of our (super) village to make that happen. Whether it is a short-term partnership of just being a part of helping with one wish, or long-term to continue making magical experiences happen in our community for years to come for hundreds of young music fans, every bit of help will help us on our mission to change the world.

With the pandemic, the safety of our team and our audience are our top priority so we have put together thoughtfully-curated virtual experiences, and we are ready to make magic happen – all we need is some support (and visibility) from our community. 

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