Arts & Entertainment Community

Gig Harbor-based nonprofit helps assure that everyone can take the stage

Posted on March 7th, 2022 By:

Movies have the Oscars. Music has the Grammys. And web-based media have the Webby Awards, sponsored by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.

On Feb. 28, IADAS presented its first-ever Anthem Awards, honoring people and organizations worldwide who are doing purpose- and mission-driven work that inspires others to take action in their own communities and spark global change.

Among the nominees were projects developed by such luminaries as Vice President Kamala Harris, Lady Gaga and Trevor Noah — and Gig Harbor resident Amanda Gresham.

Gresham was honored with a silver award in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion category for a program called United by Music North America that she co-founded with her mother, Barbara Hammerman.

Amanda Gresham

Amanda Gresham United by Music North America

UBMNA is a Gig Harbor-based nonprofit organization that works with alter-abled adults who demonstrate exceptional musical talent. The artists are paired with professional musician mentors who coach them to perform with the United by Music band at venues throughout the U.S.

The band has performed at such prestigious events as Portland’s annual Waterfront Blues Festival; the National Blues Museum in St. Louis, Missouri; the U. S. Special Olympics; the Memphis International Blues Challenge; the Special Music and Art Festival in Korea; the Bite of Oregon; and the Washington State Fair.

“When you look at the individuals and organizations that were finalists — or were even nominated – for Anthem Awards, the fact that United by Music was among them is an extraordinary honor,” Gresham said. “It’s not every day that we’re in a list like that.

“I hope this award says to all of our musicians, donors, supporters, mentors, grant makers and program venues that their support matters.”

Barbara Hammerman

“It feels like a decade-plus of weekly rehearsals, workshops, coast-to-coast relationship-building and performances is being put in the spotlight. That’s what we need to attract more resources and more supporters so we can serve more people who have historically been marginalized, and give them a chance to soar to their highest heights.”

Hammerman added that receiving the Anthem Award is “such an affirmation. Everyone likes to feel that what they’re doing matters. I hope this award says to all of our musicians, donors, supporters, mentors, grant makers and program venues that their support matters.”

She credited Gresham with “heading up the majority of the work of the band,” from selecting the songs and making travel plans to managing rehearsals, workshops and performances and working with the program’s mentors.

“As a people, we’re getting better at acknowledging those who are doing important impactful work,” Hammerman said.

“I really love the idea of the Anthem Awards. I hope that they’ll, indeed, be an anthem call to individuals, organizations and companies to recognize and reward those who create socially impactful projects, and elevate those projects and voices that often need extra leverage to be seen and heard.”

Other award categories included Education, Art and Culture; Health, Human and Civil Rights; Humanitarian Action and Services; Responsible Technology and Sustainability, Environment and Climate.

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According to an Anthem Awards media release, the competition received nearly 2,500 entries from 36 countries worldwide.