Women Like Us Foundation always makes a point to shine light on nonprofits and entrepreneurial women making an impact in the world. We strive to spread awareness, education, and build a powerful network of women. Recently, Women Like Us Foundation partnered with Carla Dirlikov Canales, founder of the Canales Project. The debut of Hear Her Song, a concert series consisting of songs written to celebrate remarkable women icons (including Women Like Us’s very own, Linda Rendleman) as well as to empower women’s voices altogether. The big picture goal: to bring people together through the power of music.

To get a more in depth understanding and look into the project, we had a talk with Canales to pick her brain. Canales herself is of Mexican and Bulgarian descent, a factor in her own identity struggles but why she is so passionate about celebrating diversity.  She believes that the answer lies within the arts. Set on her journey to make a change in society and even the world, Canales created the Hear Her Song series. The ultimate concept of these songs is to bring power to those who relate and write them. A song about an actual living, current person brings an impact that speaks volumes..

The mission of Hear Her Song, as explained by Canales, “is to explore issues of identity and culture through music and conversation- a marriage between language and sound.”  She believes in the strength of song and that it achieves this goal to the utmost extent. Originally approached by Vital Voices with the question and discussion of how to use the power of sound to make a difference, Canales was struck by the idea of ‘choice’ in the lives of women and what that meant. She wanted to incorporate the theme of choice and the power of choosing your own destiny in the story of Hear Her song.

When asked  if music represents the different identities or undeserved identities she explained, “I don’t often think it does, actually. We have to try to seek new ways to use music for social change and social impact.” Music reaches a plethora of communities, affluent and at-risk alike in which Canales believes is key to change. “What I’m interested in is using music as a catalyst to make the world a better place.”

When discussing the organic creation and content of Hear Her Song, Canales says that the medley of songs are inspired by a wide variety of music and composers. On the musical spectrum, ranging from pop, contemporary, gospel, broadway, classical, and even international, Hear Her Song proves just that.  Canales, herself has a background in classical music and is one of the three singers touring with the project. When asked about inspirational figures, Canales has two inspirations of musicians using their platforms for the better, “I’ve been very inspired by Peter Gabriel and Bono of U2, because not only do they use music for entertainment but to really spread a message.”

She aspires to use her outlet and publicity in such a manner as they have. In terms of using their music, she noticed that they used their talent not solely entertainment purposes but for global awareness and impact. She also notes, that from the beginning of the project, Hear Her Song hasn’t reached out for favors and works from the money raised. She feels it’s important to grow naturally and employ women, who are often under employed in the business world.

Though Hear Her Song is off to a great start, Canales admits that it hasn’t been an easy journey. From ensuring the writer’s their rights and acknowledgements to setting up their next concerts, the job becomes a lifestyle. She currently has 55 people on her team working on their next debut on the West Coast. She considers this her “embryonic” phase but hopes for distribution in the semi-near future. She hopes that the ripple effect of her work is that it gets people talking, contemplating the bigger idea of music as a tool for change. She wants people to question it. As she puts it,  “what can music do to serve?” Canales explains that it’s time to examine the human condition and emotions and get talk and singing going. She intends for it to ignite this concept between musicians and non-musicians, alike. To do that is to be successful.

In her words, “for me, success comes from putting myself out of business!” Why? Because if one issue has broken through and made a change, there is nothing left to do but to move onto the next.

What’s next for Canales and Hear Her Song? Bringing their message to international communities!

You can purchase tickets for Hear Her Song’s next performance in San Jose, on May ,19th,  here.