Inspired by her own song, “Who Made It Be That Way,” Mary Ann Vorasky formed All-In-Love.Org, a nonprofit project that offers music classes to women healing from domestic abuse.
SING IT OUT LOUD!
After high school, Mary Ann moved to California from Ohio at age 17, took a job in a fast food restaurant, and rented a room in the house of the short-order cook’s landlady, Rosie. At Rosie’s house, Mary Ann wrote “Who Made It Be That Way” about having grown up in a violent home. She debuted the song at an open mic at the Troubadour at that time (where Elton John, Tom Waits and James Taylor played early in their careers), and a friend who came to see her asked why she sounded so angry when singing it. Mary Ann realized then that she had sung the entire song through clenched teeth. Despite wanting to tell the story of her home life, she did not feel comfortable sharing it then, nor after several re-writes over the years.
In 2013, when Suzanne Vega, whose song “Luka” about child abuse was a hit in 1987, spoke at a writer’s conference at Whittier College, Mary Ann went to the conference and asked her if there were any songs she had ever written that she didn’t feel able to play for people. Suzanne said there are songs she doesn’t play because she does not want to deal with how people react to what she’s singing about, but not because she doesn’t feel able to share the song.
In the summer of 2014 in “Recording and Producing in the Home Studio,” a Berklee College of Music online class, inspired by students who were producing rap and hip hop music, Mary Ann decided to try to bring that genre to “Who Made It Be That Way.”
“Rap / hip-hop music was not familiar to me because I thought it was mostly violent and exploitative of women, but a friend at work shared some of his favorites with me. I listened to Missy Elliot’s “Supa Dupa Fly,” the Fugees “Ready or Not,” Gorillaz “Feel Good,” and Nicki Minaj’s “Superbass,” and others, songs about love, happiness and feeling good. One morning after falling asleep listening to the Fugees, everything I said or sang sounded Jamaican! My friend reminded me that Chrissie Hynde is white and from Ohio like me, and raps in her rock songs, so I reconnected with my roots in Chrissie Hynde and created “Who Made It Be That Way” anew.”
The “Sing It Out Loud!” program seeks to undo the damage caused by abuse, tapping into each woman’s creativity and self-expressive abilities to build confidence, self-esteem, and feelings of connection and community. The ultimate goal is for each woman to become empowered to act with greater awareness on her own behalf in her life, to learn to communicate in ways that others can be receptive to, and to make more self-affirming choices in her relationships and life situations.