you have a story worth singing
& we can help you write it
Songwriting isn’t just for pop-singers. The Major Lift team is passionate about giving music lovers of ALL ability levels the tools to bring their own stories, hopes, and emotions to life through song.
For our workshop options & past partners, download our brochure...
What do our workshops look like?
The Major Lift workshops are fast-paced, upbeat, sometimes silly, incredibly powerful, and just plain fun. We help young people and adults deal positively with difficult emotions. You'll engage in songwriting to process feelings of shame and inadequacy - universal emotions that we all experience - that are too often silenced, as well as feelings of resilience and hope.
Why is The Major Lift so needed?
Through the exciting process of songwriting, The Major Lift workshops confront 'personal silencing' and prevent the quiet suffering that leads to self-harm and bullying. We are all able to put into song what we are often unable to speak.
Who leads The Major Lift's workshops?
Our workshops are led by professional award-winning songwriters, performers, and educators with decades of experience. We guide communities through vulnerability towards well-being and healing.
Diego Colòn is an award winning Singer/Songwriter who has performed on stages across America for nearly 20 years. In 2011, he became the founder of BDC Enterprises and, through his company, Diego has been able to partner with other artists creating entertainment experiences for private and public events all over the midwest solo, or with his band Diego Sol and The Metronomes. As an educator, he has worked with Chicago Public Schools as well as private institutions cultivating lessons in voice, musical theater, and songwriting. He has worked to create original arrangements and songs for Chicago Shakespeare, The Goodman Music Theatre Program, The House Theater, American Theater Company’s Core Series, The Chicago Humanities Festival, and in 2016, he won The Joseph Jefferson Award for Original Music in a play at The Gift Theater. Most recently, Diego has composed and performed music for the short film The Last Stand of Bobby Coe. As an ensemble member of Jackalope Theatre Company, Diego was also able to produce the first reading of his first rock musical, The Pack.
Jess Godwin is a DIY music video maker, electronic musician, and educator. Through her work touring the globe with The Shameless Workshop - helping 40,000 students in 80 communities around the world combat shame through songwriting, one classroom at a time - she learned how to make songwriting accessible for non-musicians. Jess is a proud recipient of a 2018 $25,000 3Arts Award for her videos and music. Her original music has been licensed to Dance Moms multiple times, and her voice has been heard on five commercial spots as the Daisy Sour Cream jingle singer. Over the past two years, Jess and her partner, Gabe, have been writing love songs for couples with their custom wedding song business, With This Song. As an actress, she has been onstage with theaters and music venues such as Court Theatre, The Getty Villa, The Chicago Theatre, The Auditorium Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Writers Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Porchlight Theatre, Long Wharf Theatre, The O’Neill Center, and Double Door. She is currently developing a narrative album while she rolls out her 10 part digital music project, "Coloratura."
James Robinson Parran
James Robinson-Parran is a Chicago native who has played the piano his whole life. Winner of local NAACP ACT-SO awards, Geneva “Swedish Days” competitions, and two National Federation of Music Cup Gold cups, James holds a Bachelor of Music from DePaul University and a Masters of Arts in Music from Concordia University. He has appeared with such artists as Phillip Glass, Andy Williams, and performed on stages including the Lied Center in Nebraska, the Harris Theater in Chicago, Jedlicka Theater in Cicero. James has worked with Lyric Opera, Ravinia, the Chicago Blues Festival, and many others as an in demand pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. With his former band, Justice Prevails!, James wrote, performed, and produced two albums of original music. He has taught music at Westinghouse High School, City Colleges of Chicago, and Dorolyn Academy of Music. He is currently a teacher resident with Chicago Public Schools and thrilled to be sharing his passion for music with you.
Xoe Wise is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer originally from a small town in NC, now based in Chicago. In addition to her work a professional musician, she holds a BS in psychology from Loyola University, and is a graduate student in social work at The University of Chicago where she focuses on music as body-focused (trauma informed) care. She is also pursuing her MT-BC in music therapy. Xoe began playing music around 8 years old and when she was enlisted as a triangle player for a local Zydeco band. She then started playing flute and guitar and wrote her first song for a baby goat on the outer banks of NC. At 18 she moved to Chicago to pursue music and study psychology. She began connecting with musicians through open mics, further studying music, and working in film. She has worked on films/shows such as Jupiter Ascending, Cloud Atlas, and Sense8. Her music releases have spanned from folk to rock, to electronic. Her 2020 (3rd) release Air LP features Xoe’s folk repertoire with lush yet intimate horns by Martin Wenk (Calexico, Nada Surf), string and synth arrangements and production by Wise and Minterm. Her debut record Echo was produced by Ethan Stoller and released in 2010 to critical acclaim. Chicago Innerview recognized Wise as “easily the singer/songwriter and pop counterpart to Columbia native Chaz Bundick’s (a.k.a. Toro Y Moi) laconic chill-wave synth ballads.” The Chicago Tribune’s Redeye described her next single “Dear Sendai” as “spiritual.” Wise's sophomore album Archive of Illusions was written on the road with co-producer and friend Matt Ryd in 2011. The record attracted a sold-out crowd to Schubas. TuneCore called the record "new and noteworthy". Xoe has also been seen and heard in Netflix shows such as Sense8, and Showtimes Work in Progress. Wise was also a NPR Newsong finalist. Wise released the Breakfast EP in 2013 and RacecarO in 2015. She was featured on HuffPost for her single "Doctor" and in 2016 101WKQX featured her rock single "Dollhouse" produced by Howie Beno on air. 101 recruited her as a QUED Up Artist to perform for a sold-out Metro show supporting Wild Belle. She has shared the stage with artists Lisa Loeb, Guster, The Verve Pipe, Daley, St. Etienne, Greg Laswell, Andrew Belle, Tyrone Wells, Vera Blue, Verité (as Kinky Love), and Meg Myers. Previously, Wise was also in synth pop act Kinky Love featured at TNK and Mamby Festival and NME Magazine. Xoe not only enjoys making records, but also homemade hot sauce. Xoe has previous experience in both pediatric clinical work, and in music outreach, but her heart exploded with joy when she started intersecting music and talk therapy. “Sometimes we need to talk, and sometimes we need to create. I wondered, could we combine the two more regularly?” asks Wise. You find her not only on stage but developing songwriting programs for Chicago LGBTQ youth that help inspire self-exploration, like music did for her as a young queer artist looking for ways to heal. Xoe believes music is not only a source of healing, but it is a resource. She is passionate about creating programming that utilizes artistic sound and composition as a method in discovering a creative path toward healing through trauma and to support the needs of creative outlet, mood, story exploration, anxiety, and developmental disabilities. Xoe wants to create space for exploring what voice means to gender, and more importantly, what it could mean if we reimagine.
What impact does The Major Lift have?
“We were writing down our feelings and things we wished were better”
(Michael Hightower, 7th grade student, Chicago).
Through the program, "the students are more willing to share ideas and accept others’ ideas even though they don’t match their own"
(Brian Robinson, Chicago Public School teacher).
The program "transforms music classrooms into recording studios, providing students with the creative tools to confront their shame"
(Christen A. Johnson, Chicago Tribune, 2017)
Bring The Major Lift to your community
Get in touch with us here at Unsilence if you're interested in bringing The Major Lift to your community or school.
What is the history of The Major Lift?
You might know The Major Lift by its original title, Shameless. But we're no longer just about overcoming shame; we expanded our songwriting program to cover the entire spectrum of human emotions. Our program was co-founded by award-winning singer-songwriter and actor Jess Godwin and entertainer and producer Michael Ingersoll.
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