TrueSongs concert builds a bridge between arts and social services

True stories and new songs show seven local lives changed for the better by Capital Region non-profits, Sunday, November 21st

An inmate cares for a retired thoroughbred; a struggling mom regains her health in nature; a girl leaves her home in rural Haiti to attend college in Boston. Each of these previously untold redemption stories involves a local non-profit organization, and each will be told in words and songs at Caffe Lena.

On November 21st these stories and more will come to life on stage as part of TrueSongs: Lyrics of Life. Designed to be collaborative, cathartic and compelling, TrueSongs pairs storytellers and songwriters to show lives changed for the better by local nonprofits. The show is produced by Caffe Lena and underwritten by Saratoga-based marketing firm Fingerpaint.

TrueSongs was created in 2019 by the Saratoga Springs venue to show how arts and social services can work together to create a healthy, whole community. Now in its second year, TrueSongs will give seven community members the chance to share their personal story with a live audience. Each storyteller has been working with a songwriter who will follow the story with a compelling new song meant to bring out the emotional heart of the experience.

To find the stories, Caffe Lena reached out to local organizations that lend a helping hand to neighbors in need. The organizations involved are the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, The Charlton School, CREATE Community Studios, Down Syndrome Aim High Resource Center, Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and To Love a Child.

“There are so many amazing stories out there with all of the work that our local nonprofits do.” Says Margo Bloom Olson, Executive Director of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve. “Sometimes we forget about the individual people we are serving when we are doing our work. I love that TrueSongs reminds us that what we do can profoundly impact a single person.”

The diverse pool of songwriters includes Girl Blue, Jes Hudak, Mark Tolstrup, Jim Gaudet, Lorne Clarke, Thomasina Winslow and Kate McDonnell. Their job is to fashion the true story into a new song capable of breaking through stereotypes and boundaries.

“It’s important to take in all the joys and sorrows of life when writing a song,” says songwriter Mark Tolstrup. “I am so happy to be a part of this event because we’re given the chance to celebrate people who have overcome some of life’s challenges.”

For many of the storytellers it will be the first time sharing their experience in public. For the songwriters, singing TrueSongs will open a new window of expression. “From what we’ve seen, music is one of the best tools for creating understanding and compassion,” said Caffe Lena Executive Director Sarah Craig. “Our goal is to shine a light on the overlooked struggles and acts of kindness going on all around us. I think the audience will walk away with a new appreciation of the strength of their neighbors, and for the power of music. And also for the amazing work being done by nonprofits in this town.”

TrueSongs 2021 is made possible by a generous donation from Fingerpaint.

Show Information

The event will take place on Sunday, November 21 at 7 pm at Caffe Lena. Proof of vaccination is required for all attendees. Advance Tickets: $20 general public, $10 students. At the Door: $22 general public. $5 student rush tickets will be sold at the door with a valid ID. Information and advance tickets are available at The concert will also be available to live stream for free at

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