Humans of Music Forward

Introducing Humans of Music Forward, a new social series featuring members of our Music Forward community. We kicked-off the series with these next-gen industry leaders, meet them now.


Meet Zaynab, our fall 2020 Program Intern from Cal State Fullerton shares how the power of music has impacted her journey.

“Growing up, I would never have imagined myself studying to pursue a career in the music industry. Looking back now, I can recognize the impact music has made on me and my life as a whole.

In 2011, I moved to the United States after growing up in Jordan for the first seven years of my life. My sister and I would play FM radio stations in our bedroom and look up all of our favorite songs online. The music and conversations helped me learn and adapt to the new culture that I was surrounded by. It also became a large part of how I made friends. For someone who was painfully shy, I was able to open up to others when it came to music. I slowly found myself surrounded by a community of music lovers that made me feel a sense of belonging.

As I approached my second year of university, I realized how much of a driving force music has become for me. Whether I was attending a concert or staying up late researching the industry, I think music has always been in my path; it just took me some time to realize it.”



Meet John, an alum of our Bringing Down the House, Open Mic Fridays, and Spotlight Unplugged series from Dallas, TX.

“A time where music has been a unifying force in my life was my Junior year of high school. My best friend at the time was living with another student at the school for a few months. I wasn’t too familiar with the student, but I figured if my best friend was staying with him, he must be cool. Eventually, I visited them at the student’s house and, at first glance, I honestly didn’t think we’d have anything in common — he was Caucasian. However, at one point during the night, we’re all in his room and he starts playing music from this playlist he created. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was the same music I’d been listening to for years as well as what I was listening to currently. Instantly this peaked my interest. I began asking him questions about the music — what was his favorite part of the song, how did he feel about the artist as a whole, what albums had he heard, etc. And to my surprise he’d shared a lot of the same musical experiences I’d had.

Each visit after that was better than the last. The whole time we’d all just do music related things; having these super interesting discussions on music and the industry. Next thing you know, I’m not only coming over to see my best friend but I’m coming over to see the guy too. This boy I thought I’d have absolutely nothing in common with was beginning to turn into one of my greatest comrades yet.

Now, 4 years later, that kid is one of the few people I call brothers and we’re actually dropping a collab tape soon. Music has been and will always be a unifying force.”



Meet Juliana, one of our 2020 Scholarships recipients from Boston, MA.

“One of my favorite memories of music in my life when I was younger is of a small living room concert I threw with my friends when we formed a band in the 1st grade. Growing up in Colombia, I was lucky enough to go to a very artistic and small school, so almost all of my classmates performed and we played covers together for our parents. I remember it was around Christmas time and I was super nervous and excited to sing ‘All I Want for Christmas’ by Mariah Carey in front of the parents with my broken 7 year-old English. Thinking of it now makes me laugh a bit and it also makes me think of how far I’ve come in having music be a part of my life.

Not so long ago, my bandmate and best friend unexpectedly passed away in a car accident. I honestly didn’t know at the time if I was going to feel comfortable making music again without him, since he was my writing partner, a creative support, and in general such an amazing friend. I realized music is what made our relationship so special and honest, and writing songs about our friendship, about grief, and our memories was a very significant healing process for me. Music can be an incredible outlet of emotions and a great way to immortalize feelings and memories, it’s almost like a journal of experiences that can be especially freeing and beautiful. More than anything, I’ve learned to heal through it.”



One of my first childhood memories is of listening to Stevie Wonder on the radio and dancing in the back while my dad was driving.

That Christmas, he got me a Crosley turntable and a Stevie Wonder album, which got me started on collecting vinyl records at a young age. Listening to music was always a personal pleasure for me. As I grew up and became a first generation college graduate, I was able to land an internship in the music industry in Las Vegas and got to be a part of many concerts and explore a variety of music venues. I remember realizing during the first concert that I worked on that music is a powerful art form that can connect and define cultures. Seeing all of the fans collectively vibing and wearing the same band shirt no matter how different they all were, was so inspiring.  From that moment on, I knew that I would continue to advocate for music and art through the local community.

As we enter a new year, so comes the promise of new music. I am excited for all the new music that will be out this year and can’t wait to hear what Billie Eillish, Drake, and SZA have out soon. Music from my favorite artists brought me hope in 2020, and I am thrilled to see what my soundtrack to 2021 will be.

Follow us @musicforward for more Humans of Music Forward.

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