“There’s nuthin’ like it! I love everything about it. HOPE! United By Music gives people HOPE! I can’t wait to get back to playin’ with them.”-Bobby Rush: GRAMMY Award-Winner, UBMNA Mentor

“These guys are off the chain! I just love playin’ with all of them!”-Kenny Neal: Award-Winning Louisiana bluesman, UBMNA Mentor

“It is just thrilling to me to hear musicians who bring so much of themselves and put themselves into the songs this way. It’s also very exciting to see experienced blues musicians accompanying them and working to bring the best out of them. United by Music musicians come from such an honest place into this music.” -Bruce Iglauer: Founder/President Alligator Records

United by Music North America (UBMNA) is a performing band within a non-profit program that finds musically talented people with developmental challenges and delays such as autism who collaborate with professional musicians serving as mentors, giving them the chance to perform blues, swing, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll on stages coast to coast and internationally. UBMNA seeks to improve the quality of life as well as facilitate the inclusion of this population of people, while challenging public attitudes towards developmentally challenged and delayed artists. The organization’s wide-ranging efforts have now spawned Yes We Can Can, a joyful new album, UBMNA’s first, that showcases the talents of participating artists as they perform a high-energy collection of songs featuring four standout originals with their singular band that includes an array of professional musicians. Yes We Can Can is made possible with the support of a network of dedicated family, friends, presenters and donors led by Amanda Gresham, producing artistic director of UBMNA.

UBMNA will perform at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle (July 2018), singing as part of the choir at the opening ceremony, performing as a featured band in the Fan Zone, and playing at some prestigious private parties during the games. Yes We Can Can features “Winners,” a song written by UBMNA artist and Special Olympics athlete Patrick Blue and his long-time guitar coach, Timmer Blakeley. “Winners” was then work-shopped and arranged for a year by UBMNA to be performance ready to present at USA Games and included on this CD.

Singer-songwriter/keyboardist Nick Baker is a UBMNA artist who also is the author of the emotionally moving book “Turtle” (about a gifted musician who shares his struggles and triumphs growing up blind and autistic). Nick contributes two original songs “Bad Behavior Blues” and “Think Positive” to Yes We Can Can. The album concludes with “United By Music,” UBMNA’s theme song written by musical director Dave Fleschner along with contributions from the UBMNA ensemble of musicians.

United by Music was originally created in the Netherlands in 2006 by health care industry executive Joris van Wijngaarden. When van Wijngaarden sought to expand the program to North America, he teamed with nonprofit industry veteran Barbara Hammerman and music festival producer Amanda Gresham. The result was the founding of United by Music North America. The organization maintains a team of professional musician mentors and supporters, who help to find the musical talents for the program, and work in weekly sessions to create public performance events, like the two-week tour of the U.S. and Canada, which introduced the program to North American audiences. United by Music North America is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization based in Portland, OR and Gig Harbor, WA. The program is supported by the founders and donations from the public, and there is no fee to the artists to be a part of the program.

United by Music North America describes its vision thusly: “Imagine a world in which no prejudice exists based upon race, creed, color—or developmental challenge. That is the world that we at United by Music North America, and our growing support base, envision. In our case, we have turned to the power of music to bring people together.”

UBMNA is truly a gift to its participants, their families and to the world. See what acclaimed artists and industry professionals alike have to say about UBMNA!