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Miltich uses music to reduce stigma of mental illness

Bemidji Pioneer - 4/7/2019

April 07-- Apr. 7--Grand Rapids guitarist Sam Miltich will present original music and a discussion of mental health in Bemidji this week and in five total Minnesota communities.

The program will be presented at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, at the Rail River Folk School, 303 Railroad St. SW. Tickets cost $12 for general admission and $6 for students, and can be purchased at the door.

Miltich was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Arts Tour Minnesota Grant for his proposal "The Improvised Life: Exploring Intersections of Mental Health & Creativity through Jazz." The program aims to highlight cultural contributions of artists with mental illness and inspire hope through Miltich's own story and original compositions, a press release said.

The tour expands exposure to jazz in rural communities and increases awareness of the issues faced by a vulnerable population, according to the release. The program will explore Miltich's own experience with schizophrenia plus that of other accomplished musicians who achieved personal and professional success while living with mental illness.

"I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunity to not only play music, but use my art as a tool for social justice," Miltich said in a release. "It is my hope that this project can help create awareness around mental illness and reduce stigma to, in turn, help people receive the care they deserve."

A long-time fixture on the Minnesota jazz scene, Miltich plays regularly at venues throughout the state and has been featured on TPT's "Minnesota Original" and NPR's "Weekend Edition." For this project, Miltich will tour with bassist Chris Bates, tenor saxophonist Dave Karr, and drummer Nathan Norman who are some of the most active and high caliber jazz musicians currently working in the state of Minnesota, the release said.

The grant comes primarily from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund established as part of the November 2008 clean water, land, and legacy amendment to the Minnesota

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