Healing Through Music: Make Music Matter Founder and CEO Darcy Ataman to Receive Order of Manitoba

Winnipeg-born music producer and humanitarian Darcy Ataman will be recognized for creating Healing In Harmony, an innovative music therapy program under the umbrella of Ataman’s organization, Make Music Matter.

Ataman will be awarded the Order of Manitoba, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated excellence and exceptional achievements in their respective fields, for his dedication to enriching

the lives of vulnerable populations in conflict and post-conflict zones.

Make Music Matter helps to empower marginalized voices with its innovative music therapy program Healing in Harmony. Initially designed in 2009 for trauma survivors in conflict and post-conflict zones, it has been clinically proven to reduce PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

Various research studies have demonstrated the significant positive impact Healing in Harmony has had on the participants’ mental health. From survivors of sexual and gender-based violence in the Democratic Republic of

Congo to young Syrian refugees with disabilities, Healing in Harmony has helped transform the lives of over 8,500 individuals in eight countries worldwide.

In 2006, Ataman, a passionate advocate of the power of the arts to heal, brought together several popular recording artists to write and record a music single, Song for Africa, and an accompanying video to raise awareness of the AIDS pandemic in Africa. The song was presented to global leaders during the opening ceremonies of the XVI International Aids Conference held in Toronto in 2006, and proceeds from the sale of the song supported various projects in Africa.

Working with a trained therapist and music producer, participants begin the healing process by writing, recording, and professionally producing songs about their emotions and experiences. Each group’s original songs are professionally produced and released globally on all major streaming platforms through Ataman’s A4A Records, with distribution through Warner Music Canada. A ground-breaking new publishing model helps to ensure that all royalties from the songs are sent back to the artists and their communities, regardless of socio-economic circumstances.

Ataman explains that this data and interactions with participants in the field keep him going. “In one session, I asked the women how they thought I perceived them, and one of them stood up to say, ‘I used to think you saw us as completely worthless human beings because we had been raped, but now I think you see us as artists.’”

Developed alongside Nobel laureate Dr. Denis Mukwege at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Healing in Harmony program has since expanded, benefitting thousands of participants worldwide, helping them emerge with a renewed sense of agency and self-worth. Ataman is actively working with partners to bring the model to Indigenous communities in Canada and address the generational trauma they have endured.

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© Jason Willheim

“Establishing trust and building relationships within the communities we serve is critical. The only reason I have been successful is because extremely vulnerable people are essentially allowing me into their home and letting us be of service to them. It’s a completely symbiotic relationship”

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