Nancy Earle, Executive Director of the Star Jasmine Foundation and A.S.C.A.P. member


The Star Jasmine Foundation ~ Jams (Jasmine's Alternative Music School) April 2008 –

                              Nurturing Through Music

When Nancy Earle founded the Star Jasmine Music Foundation (SJMF) in 1996, she was looking for a way to find solace through music. Begun as a tribute to her late daughter, Jasmine, the victim of a tragic accident at the age of ten, SJMF first manifested itself as a compilation album (featuring Dave Mason, Kenny Loggins, Steve Winwood, and many more) before growing into JAMS (Jasmine’s Alternative Music School), a nonprofit school dedicated to putting music in the hands of Santa Barbara’s at-risk youth. Tucked into an inconspicuous retail space on Milpas Street, Earle’s JAMS currently provides low- to no-cost practice space, music-exploration camps, and recording time to more than 20 kids, most between the ages of 12 and 18, as well as collaborative outreach programs with organizations like Sarah House and Girls Inc.

“These are kids that are at that age when you just kind of need a little extra guidance,” explained Earle, citing students who have traded their gang-imbued pasts for musical instruments by way of JAMS’ free weekly Teen Night sessions and concerts.

Armed with a room’s worth of traditional (keyboards, guitars, bass) and more worldly (hand drums, gongs, ukuleles) items, JAMS currently offers instruction, as well as a safe haven for kids simply looking for somewhere to play, though Earle is still dreaming of something bigger (namely, a larger facility, soundproofing capabilities, and more volunteers). Still, the school’s grassroots approach to community building seems to be working — and growing; JAMS will soon start offering music-exploration sessions for children as young as 10 months old.

“Playing music builds self-confidence, it builds communication skills, and skills these kids can take into the world,” Earle said. “But music also touches your soul; it allows our emotions to breathe.” And that’s something everyone can benefit from.

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