On Our Minds

Working with so many organizations across multiple issue areas gives us a unique view into what’s happening in the social sector. This is where we share our insights and ruminations.
How music helps me find balance
Beyond Search: How music fuels my passion to find balance

by Deonté Savage (he/him/his)

I’ve always believed that balance between work and life is where we thrive. You have to make time for the things that inspire passion in order to really appreciate and find satisfaction in your everyday life, from the workplace to your home. For me, that means nurturing the musical artist that I am. Carving out a space for a creative, collaborative world outside of my day job is a constant challenge, but it fuels my energy and ability to face everything that I do. As a songwriter, it’s work that nurtures my soul and keeps me grounded in my roots, always pushing me to explore new perspectives.

I’ve found purpose and identity within music since I was a child. I learned how to sing before I could talk. My mother played music faithfully every single day. I’m sure she played music for me more than she spoke to me. One of my first gifts for Christmas was a piano with a microphone. My mom says that she knew I was going to have a passion for music, because out of all the gifts that I got, that was the one gift that I really lit up about. I went to performing arts school all my life, and I grew up in church singing. 

When I first started singing, there was a time when I wanted to be my own artist. But, it was my mentor, a music producer, who first told me that I was a great songwriter and that I should think about pursuing that side of the industry. And the rest is history. I’ve found my passion, and in my time outside of On-Ramps, I work with a couple of underground record labels as a singer and songwriter. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m pushing. 

What music teaches me about everyday life

Music influences everything that I do. I don’t know where I would be without it. When I'm stressed out, I listen to music. When I'm sad, I listen to music. When I'm happy, I listen to music. When I want to be inspired, I listen to music. 

I'm around people in music from diverse backgrounds all the time, and it’s something that’s completely shaped my perspective on life and how I relate to others. Creatives have a whole different way of thinking and doing. I find that we take more time to think versus people who are traditionally more corporate minded, who are used to just fast-paced deliverables. But, in being submerged in both worlds and around so many different perspectives, it helps you realize the impact each person’s unique take and approach has on shaping the way that you think about everything. 

When it comes to my work at On-Ramps, that connection with others and ability to see situations from multiple angles are transferable skills that I use every single day. My transition into the social sector came naturally because of this ability to understand different perspectives and passion to ultimately inspire change within the communities I was already reaching. 

How my passion for music has made me a better collaborator

As an artist, you learn to put yourself into a story, into another person’s shoes. This means thinking strategically about your creative approach. You learn to think outside of the box while, again, listening to those different perspectives. 

So, as a creative, you’re a natural collaborator. I'm a big proponent of collaboration. And for me, it always comes back to the music, where I learned the value in this early on. If you're trying to make it in music, you have to know from the beginning that in no way can you do it by yourself. There are so many working parts that have to come together in order to make magic. 

In the music scene, as a songwriter, I know that my words, my melodies, mean nothing without a producer, an audio engineer, the mixer, the distribution company—there are just so many people who work together to bring an idea to life. So, you learn very early on that collaboration is key. I know that when I open my art up to other perspectives, and we all put our minds together, we can make something great. That’s the beauty of creation and art. When you bring people together, there’s no telling where the energy can take you.

What to consider in pursuit of balance through art

  • Share your passion with others: The essence of a creative is spontaneity. Inspiration can strike anytime, anywhere, and especially when you open up your art to share with others. I love that I can share a song I’m working on and watch it ignite a spark in someone else. You never know how it’s going to move another person. And that’s my ultimate passion—collaborating with others to elevate their sound, their vision, and their art while also creating space for each of us to express ourselves in the most authentic way, pushing us to reach new heights. 
  • You have to make the time: There’s an emotional shift that happens when you don’t make time for the things that inspire those passions. There never seems to be enough time to create, but I make a point to try. I try to at least attribute an hour to writing every day. I have a little in-home studio at my house where I try to put in an hour, maybe two or three, every single day. It’s a constant challenge to find the energy and inspiration to really do it, but it’s so central to who I am that if I don’t, I can see it play out in other areas of my life. The two worlds of work and life outside of work are so intertwined for me, because in both I’m striving for those moments that spark change. I’ve learned that when my creative self thrives, my work thrives. 

The Takeaway:

Balance is about accepting each person’s whole self and everything that shapes them. Taking the time to create is necessary to who I am as a person. It makes me a better individual, and it makes me a better collaborator. What I’ve learned through my position as both an On-Ramper and a songwriter is that it’s our collective passions that make us an organization clients and prospective team members are drawn to. Our team’s diverse backgrounds and interests show that we value other’s goals and passions, because we understand the importance of nurturing our own goals and passions.