The original Make Music Matter effort began with a song produced by Darcy Ataman. With support from the Canadian International Development Agency, Darcy 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. The proceeds from the sale of the song supported various projects in Africa. A documentary film, also entitled Song for Africa, followed artists involved in the original project on a trip to Kenya to see the people and projects impacted by the funds raised. The documentary aired on the Canadian broadcaster CityTV in 2007 and was seen in approximately 30,000 homes. It aired several more times, reaching an even larger audience.

The Healing in Harmony pilot program kicked off in the fall of 2009. Over 70 youth from across Rwanda participated. Local educators guided the interactive training and health education sessions while local and visiting artists facilitated the creation of music. Songs were recorded and disseminated to local communities and used as outreach tools on local radio and elsewhere, spreading positive health messages and helping to break the cycle of stigma.

MMM created a second documentary and its first full-length album, both entitled Rwanda: Rises Up!, released in June 2010. This time the documentary followed Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, Sarah Slean, Damhnait Doyle, Tim Edwards of Crash Parallel,and legendary producer David Bottrill (Tool, Silverchair, Muse, Smashing Pumpkins) as they traveled to Rwanda to visit the Healing in Harmony program. The documentary looked at Rwanda’s recovery from the devastation of genocide and offered a firsthand glimpse at how the power of hope changes lives for the better. The broadcast premiere of Rwanda: Rises Up! reached 200,000 households. The accompanying album fused the sounds of local Rwandan artists with the talents of Ian D’Sa of Billy Talent, Cone McCaslin of Sum 41, Classified, and the Trews. An inspiring work of art, it marked the first time many Rwandan artists were paid for their talents.

Make Music Matter hosted Panzi Hospital Founder and Director Dr. Denis Mukwege in Winnipeg for a series of events recognizing his humanitarian efforts and raising awareness and funds for the victims of extreme sexual violence at Panzi Hospital, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). “Right Her Future – Manitobans Standing with the Women of Panzi Hospital” was an evening of dialogue and music featuring an impressive line-up of humanitarians, dignitaries including Dr. Denis Mukwege from Panzi Hospital, retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire from the Child Soldiers Initiative, Dr. Samantha Nutt founder of War Child North America, and Dr. Lloyd Axworthy. Special guest performers included Jim Cuddy, Sum 41‘s Cone McCaslin, Billy Talent‘s Ian D’Sa, and local Congolese artists.

With support from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and in partnership with Panzi Foundation USA, Make Music Matter launched an innovative music therapy program – Healing in Harmony – to support psychosocial healing for survivors of sexual violence, vulnerable community members, children, and staff at Panzi Hospital’s Maison Dorcas aftercare facility.

“Parce Que J’ai Mal” (“Because I’m in Pain”), written by survivors of sexual violence at Maison Dorcas, marked the first release by artists in the Healing in Harmony program.

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Make Music Matter attended the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul to present the Healing in Harmony program to a global audience including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

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With support from the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation, Healing in Harmony artists at Uyisenga Ni Imanzi in Rwanda released their debut album “No Love No Peace”.

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With partners at Panzi Hospital and Foundations, Make Music Matter were selected to embark on a two year journey to scale up programming in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and beyond. An innovation initiative by ELRHA and the Humanitarian Innovation Fund and funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Journey to Scale included funding, mentoring, and tailored support for the expansion of our Healing in Harmony program.

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Make Music Matter joined honoured guest Buffy Sainte-Marie at a special event hosted at the Senate of Canada in celebration of the power of music. Long time Make Music Matter partner Ian D’Sa of Billy Talent along with vocalist Hailee Rose performed My Body is Not a Weapon, a song written by Healing in Harmony artists at Panzi Hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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With Panzi Hospital and Foundations, Make Music Matter launched a new studio in Mulamba, DRC, at a satellite clinic of Panzi Hospital. This kicked off the first Healing in Harmony program in a rural area – one of the major goals of the Journey to Scale.

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Make Music Matter joined forces with Warner Music Canada to launch a new record label, bringing songs written and recorded by Healing in Harmony artists to a global audience.

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In the final phase of the Journey to Scale with ELRHA, Make Music Matter partnered with World Vision DRC to open a new Healing in Harmony site in Beni, DRC. It was the first site to integrate into another organization and marked a major step in the development of a social franchise model.

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Make Music Matter was invited to present the Healing in Harmony program at the Sustainable Impact Hub as part of the World Economic Forum. The week in Davos also featured the world premiere of My Body is Not a Weapon, a documentary film by Platon starring Make Music Matter partner Dr. Denis Mukwege and artists from our Healing in Harmony program at Panzi Hospital.

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A new Healing in Harmony program in collaboration with the Dr. Denis Mukwege Foundation was launched in Conakry, Guinea, with local partners l’Association des victimes parents et amis du 28 septembre 2009 (AVIPA).

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Darcy Ataman

Founder and CEO

Shannon Johnson

Director of Operations

Kendall Giilck

Administrative Assistant

Damiao Fernandes

Production Assistant

Heine Nielsen

Publishing Manager

Justin Cikuru

Lead Therapist and Trainer

Coralie Garcia

Program Officer


Jaime Jenkins

Board Chair

David Bottrill

Board Member

Michael Espinoza

Board Member

Marie Lampropoulos

Board Member

Rebecca Purver

Board Member