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Judge Abraham Alexander believes wholeheartedly in the Sounds of Resilience grant program, though some of his fellow Fort Worth artists think it’s a little tacky. Photo courtesy of Fine Line Group.

Some artists are a little P.O.’d. They don’t think of musicmaking as a smackdown-able thing. It’s more like a higher calling. To them, asking musicians to stand at the same urinal and compare songs is just gross.

Other artists may be thinking, “Hmm, a grant of up to $5,000 for writing a tune about being resilient in troubled times? Count me in.”

Thanks, American Idol.

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Thanks, Fort Worth Weekly Music Awards.

I’m just joshing. Our awards are perfect. Absolutely no musicians are harmed in the process. Don’t know about Idol, having watched only one episode 200 years ago, when the mean British guy told some performer they were “dreadful.” Anyway, the grant we’re talking about is different. It’s a Bass production.

Coming from the giving hands of Sasha and Edward P. Bass’ Fine Line Group along with Fort Works Art’s Gallery of Dreams nonprofit, Sounds of Resilience is a $100,000 initiative to “get the city’s musicians back into the studio and up on the stage,” Fine Line says in a statement. To apply, musicians must submit a live performance video of two original songs along with a personal statement about life during lockdown and civil unrest and how music will unite people “around the theme of resilience,” says Fine Line. Applications can be made at SoundsofResilience.com/apply. There is no application fee.

The selection process will be “managed,” according to Fine Line –– don’t say “judged” –– by R&B singer-songwriter Abraham Alexander, Grammy legend T Bone Burnett, Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, House of Songs’ Troy Campbell, UNT’s Rosana Eckert, and KXT’s Amy Miller. The judges (oops –– the “managers”) will award $2,000 grants to 35 applicants and $5,000 grants to the top six strongest artists, who will be paired together to create and produce an original song about resilience. They will be recorded live at Bass Performance Hall.

“Music is part of Fort Worth’s soul,” the Basses say in the statement. “By putting this city’s stories into song, artists have the power to help our community process and heal from the unprecedented events we have all watched unfold over the last several months. As our city battles a pandemic and reckons with the legacy of prejudice, Sounds of Resilience delivers not just highly focused financial support to Fort Worth-area musicians but also helps to create an audio record of our town’s unique perspective on all that has occurred and all that we hope to see in the future.”

Jordan Richardson was not enthused. In a post, the Grammy-winning Fort Worth producer and mastermind behind popsters Son of Stan said, “I’m going to submit a cell phone recording of fart noises and call it ‘resilience.’ Or maybe just a bad mp3 rip of a Bachman Turner Overdrive album. Who’s with me? Also I say we boycott this panel of judges. #werenotworthy Here’s a great alternative. Go to sba.com and apply for a $1000 grant and you don’t have to prove your musical worth to anyone.”

While he went on to say he’s thrilled people in need may benefit, he added, “I just think a singing competition during a crisis is not a good way to go about helping people.”

Roots rocker Jacob Furr was less than not enthused. “This sort of Hunger Games-style bullshit enrages me,” he posted.

Same goes for Quaker City Night Hawks’ Sam Anderson, who said, “Very cool. Like battle of the bands but with a forced theme.”

And Americana singer-songwriter Kevin Aldridge said, “Tell me how resilient you are. Sorry, not resilient enough.”

Judge Alexander is all onboard. He actually helped formulate the program after being approached by Sasha and Gallery of Dreams founder Lauren Saba Childs.

“Moving forward at this unprecedented and challenging time is about so much more than just finding work,” Alexander says in the statement. “It’s about reviving the spirit and soul so we can make music again. This model does both, and that’s what makes it so powerful.

“This program,” he continues, “is a lifeline for the musicians of our city. It’s a life vest for the dreams our musicians are fighting to keep afloat in the midst of two life-threatening viruses: one new, and the other –– systemic racism –– an old and deadly plague. Sounds of Resilience makes it possible for them to focus on doing what they do best –– creating. Musicians will not have to worry about their next bill or what equipment they will need to sell in order to put food on the table. It makes me proud of our city and honored to know its citizens. Individuals from all walks of life are coming together around this program. Sounds of Resilience will rekindle hope, fuel collaboration, and change the fabric of our music scene for the better.”

Sounds of Resilience follows The New Normal: An Artist’s Response to COVID-19, a similar grant offered to Fort Worth visual artists.

“Within hours of launching that program,” Sasha says in the statement, “submissions from our city’s most talented artists poured in. The need for a program like this was clear. Visual art is but one segment of our city’s creative economy, there are so many powerful and accessible mediums through which our experiences in history are recorded. We knew music would be next.”

The goal of the music grant, Fine Line says, is to “fuel the city’s creative economy and to help drive community healing and positive change.”

Good luck to all of the participants, and carry on, everyone else. Sounds of Resilience may not be very rock ’n’ roll. You can’t imagine Fugazi submitting anything but a sarcastic take. However, if the point is to inspire artists, to turn their attention back toward making music instead of worrying about catching a deadly illness or losing a loved one to it or marching for civil justice, there’s nothing wrong with a themed competition. It happens in other artistic disciplines all the time (especially writing). The theme allows the artist to focus his or her anxiety and maybe drag himself or herself into a new, non-competition project. Even if nothing comes from it for some artists, it at least may have gotten them writing again, which is always a plus.

Grant applications are open now through August 2. The grantees will be announced on August 31 via social media.

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