For years, the joy of singing has inspired Eileen Howard to share her vocal gifts with diverse communities. Audiences have seen her perform for jazz fans at such places as The Velvet Note in Alpharetta, as well as during community meals at Eastside Church in Atlanta.
“Music is an important element of creating joy and unity for people that feel marginalized,” said Howard.
The singer, who lives in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, is in a 12-step recovery program for compulsive eating.
“I have seen the power of music to heal,” she said. “I’m not suggesting it could replace a recovery program, but I have seen how powerful it can be for people. When I did music at a food pantry in New York, both the volunteers and recipients would all join together and laugh and sing. It was an equalizer, as well.”
Howard and her husband, George, moved from New York City in 2016, with his work organization, Global Ministries of United Methodist Church. Since then she has performed for general audiences at live music venues throughout the metro area, and also made it a point to seek out opportunities to perform for people unlikely to be in attendance at those traditional places.
A popular draw is “Stone Mountain Christmas” at Stone Mountain Park, where Howard is currently featured in the cabaret show through Jan. 5.
She also has a musical fundraiser planned for local 12-step recovery groups, 4-6 p.m. Feb. 2, at Wallers Coffee House in Decatur. “I am doing a program that is my original music about my recovery, social justice and spiritual journey,” said Howard.
The location has limited food and beverage offerings making it a safe space for people in recovery from food and alcohol addictions, she added.
“The reason that I feel a calling to do this is that I have observed many times that when you add music with a positive message, it creates joy in a situation where people may feel like a charity,” said Howard. “And then with the music experience, they feel like they are a part of something and not a recipient.”
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