Personal Story

Feature Issue on Disability Rights, Disability Justice

Come Together, Right Now

Impact author Rebecca Dosch Brown recently interviewed a few young musicians from the Rock On! program at the MacPhail Center for Music about how they express their thoughts about disability justice and a sense of freedom through their music. She asked them how they feel when singing or playing in the band, what they want the audience to feel, and which pieces of music make them feel their most powerful and free.

Eve Benson

vocalist and tambourine

I feel ENERGETIC! And I have to put my angry expression on since rock music can sometimes be angry music. I want people to feel like their socks have been knocked off! I also want them to feel really excited.

The song that makes me feel powerful is probably “Awake and Alive” by Skillet. I like the part that says, “Here, right now… stand my ground and never back down!” This song taught me that we need to overcome our fears and look them in the eye.

Letourneau: A man in a red graphic t-shirt smiles into a microphone, holding a drumstick.

Brown: A man in a blue shirt sings into a microphone while playing a banjo.

Durand: A man in a striped hoodie plays a keyboard.

(top to bottom) Adam Letourneau, Taiyo Neruda Brown, Ethan Durand

Koko Dehn

rhythm guitarist, hand percussionist, and vocalist

When we play, I feel united as a group. I feel like a major rock star without the lifestyle of bad decisions that some rock stars have made. I want our audiences to feel included in the performance, like they came to see a rock concert at a big venue and like they are enjoying themselves at a performance. I want them to enjoy seeing our concert as much as we enjoy performing for them. Songs I can relate to and have meaning for me are the ones that make me feel free. I tend to pick rock songs that have a certain romantic quality, that have a quality of love in the mix - like the Maroon 5 songs “This Love” and “Moves Like Jagger.” I also like some country rock songs like “Wagon Wheel” (Darius Rucker) and “Chicken Fried” (Zac Brown Band) and “Cruise” (Florida Georgia Line). I like songs that feel and sound good, and have something to do with love. Performing is a lot of fun and my bandmates are good people. We all get along really well and bring our own qualities to the group.

Micah Kadwell

lead guitarist, back-up vocalist

It makes me feel good [to play in the band.] It makes me happy to see my friends while playing my guitar. At concerts, I feel excited and pretty proud. A song that makes me feel more free and powerful is “In My Place” by Coldplay. It was one of the first songs that I learned, so I go back to it. It makes me feel good. I like having this guitar and playing anything I want.

Adam Letourneau


Playing drums in the band helps me express who I am. I’ve been playing a long time, since I was about 12, and today I’m 25. I love learning the rhythms and beats, and I feel great when I’m up on stage. I’m thinking only about what I need to do right then.

I want the audience to feel great, too. I want to inspire them. My favorite song is “Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey. I also love the song, “My Front Porch Looking In” by Lone Star. It’s about family and the lyrics are really awesome. Playing this music makes me feel strong, and I like being part of the band and being around my friends.

Benson: A woman wearing a purple shirt sings into a microphone.

Dehn: A person wearing glasses, a black cap and vest reads music on a stand.

Cadwell: A man wearing a cap and striped shirt looks down as he holds a guitar.

(top to bottom) Eve Benson, Koko Dehn, and Micah Cadwell.

Taiyo Neruda Brown

vocalist and electronic percussionist

I’m happy being part of the band, and I want people clapping!

I like the song “Roses” by the Chainsmokers because it sounds like swimming with your face up, and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister because it’s great, angry music.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister

We’re not gonna take it

No, we ain’t gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it anymore

We’ve got the right to choose, and

There ain’t no way we’ll lose it

This is our life, this is our song

We’ll fight the powers that be, just

Don’t pick on our destiny…

Ethan Durand

pianist, keyboardist, vocalist

I feel good at Rock On! The whole group is fun. I like all the instruments. I like hearing the voices. We’re very good. I want the audience to feel proud of us when we play. I hope they say, Excellent!

I like songs by local musicians like Prince and Atmosphere. I love live music. I love all kinds of music. The reason I like rock-n-roll is because everybody is happy when they listen to it. I hope I can play in Rock On! forever. I hope I can play with everybody until I’m 90.