"To me, music is about giving. When I'm performing, I let go of everything. I look out into an audience and ask: What do they need right now? We as artists have been given a gift and gifts are meant to be shared." Ron Artis II
This is the heart and soul of what Ron Artis II does with his music. The second oldest of eleven brothers and sisters, Ron came from a very musical family. His parents encouraged his talents as they were very musical themselves. He began playing piano at four-years-old and guitar at 13. Ron grew up with strong family values, which he instills in his music. His brother Stevon Artis plays drums in his band The Truth and was part of our benefit at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley last fall. Another brother Thunderstorm Artis was one of the top three finalists on The Voice in May of 2020. Ron said his little brother had a great time!
Not only did Ron help us with our fundraising concert, he also played an institutional show at New Bridge Foundation in Berkeley. This facility is considered one of the foremost addiction treatment centers in Northern California. Ron commented, “When I go to places where people are going through recovery, I have a moment to share something, respect their level of honesty, be of service and share myself.” He felt the men and women opened up to him, and they had an honest exchange with each other. He left them with the message, "You all get a torch to bear when you go through heavy stuff. The knowledge, the strength and the scars you get from that are gonna let you help pull somebody else through it."
Volunteer Host Dick Miner wrote this story about Ron’s performance for this audience of adults in recovery: "Music is nourishment for the soul and Ron Artis II proved this to be true when he performed at New Bridge in Berkeley. Ron is an extraordinary singer-songwriter and his incredible guitar skills nearly defy description.
"The audience connected with Ron immediately and listened intently throughout the night. Some closed their eyes and let his soulful offerings wash over them. Some stared incredulously at his fabulous guitar technique. All were certainly touched in some way before the performance was over.
"One song he did in the show Broken was a beautiful and inspirational song that was fitting for the New Bridge audience. In it, he sang, 'We’re all a bit broken/Let your light shine through the cracks.' ”
Ron believes that the mission of Bread & Roses is very important and it strikes home with him. “No life is worth less than another. Society can forget about some and have predetermined ideas. That’s how poison spreads, when we generalize. Bread & Roses allows musicians to connect with these people and help them get through it, let them know ‘your life is worth something.' ”
About today’s struggle with racial justice, he says it’s been going on for too long. “There is a major need for reform and I am confident it will happen. I focus my energy on how to be constructive. The more that different cultures can understand each other, get to know each other, the stronger this country will be.”
Ron feels that musicians are tasked with creating unity. “How can we help others, give them food for thought? Honest songwriting has to reflect where you are in the moment.” Right now he‘s letting it all in and will see how it comes out.
Ron Artis II is grateful to be able to partner with Bread & Roses. His intent is to be of service with his life. “My music has a positive message with energy to heal. I want to feed communities in pain. It feeds me as much as them.”
Even though things are intense in the country right now, he is grateful for every moment. He and his family are expecting their fourth daughter in August. “Life goes so fast. You have to bring all of yourself to relationships. I want to encourage everyone to continue to fight to love each other, because love is worth it!"
By Carolyn Gauthier, Vice President, Programs
Ron Artis II & The Truth at 2019 Fall Benefit Concert at Sweetwater Music Hall. Photos by Peter Merts.
Ron Artis II performs for the men in recovery at New Bridge Foundation. Videos by Carolyn Gauthier.