The Laura Sanzo Podcast

Healing Through Music, Art, & Community

September 05, 2021 Jessica Compton & Holly Smith Season 2 Episode 9
The Laura Sanzo Podcast
Healing Through Music, Art, & Community
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In this episode, we are looking at the world through the eyes of Jessica Compton, founder of Tree Of Stars, a community based organization that promotes mental health awareness and addiction recovery by telling stories through music, art, and resources. And Holly Smith, a talented singer and song writer.

Listen to the episode to hear how Jessica’s troubled childhood, and many challenges including living on the streets, were the catalyst for Tree Of Stars, and how she helps countless individuals through their mental health journey through storytelling, journal writing, live music and meditation, through her in person and virtual tours. And how Holly has used her song writing and music as part of her own healing journey and now pays it forward to others. 

Listen to the episode to hear:

-Holly sing one of her songs live, and also share her song that she wrote telling Jessica’s journey

-The power of storytelling, journal writing, music, and meditation in one’s healing journey

-How Jessica supports artists in her café wellness tour by spotlighting them and at the same time shows people the power of healing through music 

-How community can have a profound impact on your healing journey

-Discussion to remove the stigma around mental health and addiction

Every Saturday Jessica’s hosts wellness conservations live and every Wednesday she facilitates workshops with journal prompts, live music, meditation, door prizes from different venues, to learn more about this and Jessica please visit:

FB: Tree Of Stars



Holly’s first single from the album “Momentous Moments” called Sunset Song will be available on all major streaming platforms on September 17th. To learn more about Holly visit:


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Laura Sanzo  0:00  
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Laura Sanzo podcast with your host, Laura Sanzo. Everyone's perception of the world is different based on their model the route, and her goal is to celebrate that by building the most inclusive self development podcast. Lauren, her guests share their stories, and share invaluable strategies from the world of science, spirituality, business, health, personal relationships, and everything in between. recover it all. Get inspired, learn to welcome adversity, understand the failures, only feedback and get ready to hear discussion on some of the most important issues facing us today. Enjoy the episode.

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the Laura Sanzo podcast. Today we're looking at the world through the eyes of Jessica content who's founder of tree of stars, a community based organization that promotes mental health awareness and addiction recovery by telling stories through music, art, and resources. And Holly Smith, who's a talented singer and songwriter. Welcome, ladies.

Jessica Compton  1:00  
Thank you, thank you.

Laura Sanzo  1:02  
I was just telling them I left multi guests podcast Well, this truthfully is only my second multi gas bus. It's just like, we're actually that's the lightest, my third. It's just it's a different energy. So uh, so thank you for both being here.

It's a great pleasure to be here. Jenna, want to start with you. I want to talk about tree of stars for a quick minute. And I want to ask, what really was the catalyst for tree of stars, I know the idea of flourish post Healy from a surgery, but I know we've had this conversation between the both of us, I want to have the opportunity for our listeners to hear it as well. Just going back a little bit into your past that really led up to to start to really is an incredible hub for wellness really, in all its forms.

Jessica Compton  1:45  
Yeah, when I first started it, you know, I thought in many different avenues there was and I didn't think that it would get as big as it as it has, and, or will be, but in the beginning, you know, as a self care healing for myself, and just to kind of have that organic outreach to others share my story. And then also to encourage myself to do that continuous self care and self outreach, right for resources that I may need. So and then when I look into my careers, you know, working with youth and working with young ages as four years old, all the way up to, you know, 18 is just the advocacy when individuals go through certain traumas or addictions or when we're talking about any individuals that struggle or suffer from, you know, diagnosis or wellness or, or anything that they're lacking, right.

Laura Sanzo  2:36  
Okay, tell us about your stars first.

Jessica Compton  2:39  
Yeah, so Tria stars. I found it back in I registered April 2017. I and let's rewind it a little bit. I went through a surgery and I had a lot of time to myself reading books, and just trying to find myself I thought I loved myself and you know, reading these self care books, like Louise Hays, Jay Shetty, there was just there was a ton of books, though, you know, my sister at the time had at her place. And I was I was just reading all these books, and I was healing at the same time. But there's this one moment where in one of the books that said, Look in the mirror and say, I love you, and I really couldn't do it. So you know, telling people about the books, I'm reading and sharing these books, too. But I wanted to tell people about my story and what I was doing and in journaling, and just so I brought it to cafes, you know, going to different cafes and sharing my story. But, you know, at first just doing peer support meetups, it wasn't enough people weren't talking. And I was like, how am I going to get people to talk? So the part of talking, I was like, You know what, I'm gonna get people to journal and you know, it was a moment actually, Holly, I think you were there when I was sitting in a cafe lucaya Cafe in Hamilton. And an individual was journaling beside me. And I was like, Oh, you journal. And she's like, yeah, yeah. And I was like, Oh, those kind of like, inspired in the moment but like, you know, what, I created a kind of like a workshop where people could come out and I created this cafe tour. I've hit you know, cafes all the way from Niagara Falls, Toronto brought it as far as North Bay, my hometown, brought it to online global supports, I got people, like I said, from LA coming in BC, all over coming into my zooms, and not knowing you know, back then, who would have thought that you know, a cafe tour would turn into an organization and turn into a global support, right? I love it. I love it because especially now during pandemic and such like people are still home base and I think I've almost like you because I'm starting to practice outside the home and I feel I'm kind of going against the grain because everyone's trying to like make everything virtual within their businesses and so I resonate with you because you're like going out there and really allowing people to have that human connection. So let's talk about how you in Holly Matt for a second.

Yeah, you know, my, my sister had a boot camp going on, and I believe it was a I don't know if it was cafe or restaurant, but we all after a boot camp we met up and

Holly Smith  5:00  
Yeah, I mean, I think we hung out in the same kind of, you know, neighborhoods and people, but we never actually met. So we met through my brother. And yeah, we started talking about music, and hanging out and going to events together with open mics. And, yeah, and then, I don't know, I guess I could pass a little bit over to Holly, just to see if she wants to add to it. Yeah, yeah, no, it was definitely we met through your brother. And there was, like you said, the bootcamp was going on at the time. And I think one of the biggest things that connected us was always music, you had such a passion and such a love for music. And, you know, we'd be hanging out on the weekends and stuff, and you'd want me to bring my guitar and, you know, sing, and we just be up into the early hours in the morning, and I'd be jamming and you'd be like, just kind of mesmerized and watching and, you know, I think, you know, kind of inspiring you. And there was always just such a deep connection between us that way, like our love and the way that we shared music. And I always appreciated the way that you supported me as an artist, you know, just believing in my music. And I remember even giving you like burnt CDs of my really old material that you'd like, Come back to me a week later and be like, Here's 40 bucks, just wanted you selling these birds CDs that I thought that nobody in this planet would be interested in buying. But you know, people were into it, which I thought was kind of cool. So you've always supported me in that sense along the journey. And I'm really grateful for you know, kind of where we are today. What got you into the music? Was it? This question does resonate with me at the moment just kind of was healing? It was any part of it as the music as journaling was for Jessica. And the platform that she has was? What would you say music was that for you in terms of healing? Oh, yeah. And it was something that was just like, I mean, I know it sounds cliche, but it was just always within me. If I dig around into old photos of me as a kid, like, I've got a microphone, I've got like one of those little guitars where you press buttons and you know, it plays the music and this is like two or three years old. And as I evolved in in got even older than that, I just remember in my mind, like going for car rides with my parents and being so just enamored with beautiful melodies of of the stuff that they were listening to and remembering how deeply that would impact me. And I guess, you know, as I evolved and continued to get older, my love for music just deepened. And I said to myself, one day, I want to guitar, and I want to learn how to create that myself, because there's just something so beautiful that happens inside me when I hear beautiful music that like I'm going to figure out how to create this one way or another. And I know you're gonna play something for us. Yeah, yeah. Do you want me to play something right now? Sure. Or at a different point. But get Yeah, I'm happy to whatever is easier for you. whatever is easiest. In the moment.

Jessica Compton  7:54  
Hold on, let me grab my guitar. Sure. Jessica Washington, I want to ask you, where did bring you in the music come into place in terms of bringing in musicians are calling in I know I said this prior to you. But you know, you just you pay it forward. And you always want to let other people shine and exactly what Holly had said that you you're sharing her music. And so where did that come into play with everything for co stars? Yeah, you know, I grew up with a dad that he was a DJ on the weekend. So I was always surrounded by music. But you know, and I'm from North Bay, Ontario. So I moved to Hamilton, I was like, Oh, my gosh, look at the music scene. So just going to, you know, karaoke places, if it was different places that had music, you know, I would meet up in the City of Hamilton with different musicians and go support them. One musician I running a CD release party for her or, you know, being responsible to sell the merchandise for a musician and selling tickets for their next event or promoting with a poster and whatnot. And I know Holly, and I did an event with somebody, I was standing up comedian, super funny. And Holly was the musician. And there was another a couple other musicians. So it was also me kind of like being a part of like music events. But I think the therapy behind that a sense of community and togetherness, and just feeling so great after the event that look what we did. And look at how the community came together. And yeah,

Laura Sanzo  9:11  
there's so much healing that happens in groups and in that support. I love that that community. Holly has her guitar. So I think she's ready. We're excited.

Holly Smith  9:21  
I didn't mention is that I have had an album in the works for quite a long time. And I'm proud to say that it's you know, it's finished being mixed. And it's in the mastering stages right now. And so, I'll play a song off the record.

It's called sunset song. I love that. Yeah, here we go. I've been to many times washed ashore shouldn't feel like a paradise. Instead it leaves me this moment. waves are crashing don't feel small. Beautiful. Rescue never been safe. Nice journey that somehow leaves me wanting more. This moment. Don't feel small. crashing. So before I almost forgot we were recording for a second. I was like so into it. I forgot where we were for a minute. I was like, Oh, I need to talk. Oh, that's awesome. That's so beautiful. So that's going to be coming out on the album. Yeah, that

actually I think will probably be one of the first songs that I release. Not going to, to launch the full record at once. But I intended on doing that song first, it was kind of the first song that we recorded in the studio. So it means a lot to me, I got pretty emotional, because I, you know, worked with a producer who hired a full band. Yeah, we were in the studio. It literally brought me to tears that day, like over three years ago now. But to hear that live off the floor, and to hear a raw acoustic version of what I just created in my house, be brought to life with the full band. Yeah, dynamic of the song a lot. But it's really cool. And I'm just super pumped to share it with people. It's super beautiful. Thank

Laura Sanzo  13:48  
you so much for sharing that with us. So why is it important for you guys, now more than ever, to when to use Word advocates or use your platforms to talk about mental health and addiction? You know, for myself,

Jessica Compton  14:02  
I think that, you know, especially with the not to bring up the pandemic, but the rates or the increase of suicide, drug overdoses. And I think just so many people for so many years have been silence and somebody who's experienced childhood trauma and homelessness, and, you know, my story is out there. But you know, just knowing that when other people go on to different platforms and share their story and do that outreach, that's when you actually don't feel alone because you hear that other people have anxiety other people have depression. Other people are financially struggling other people, you know, everybody's going through something. So I think this whole world has experienced a little bit of anxiety throughout the pandemic. And now it's time to put all of our plates together and put full force action and that action if that is global through zooms or a podcast like yourself, or Holly's music as, you know, my advocacy, all of us together as one village becomes one global community. That's exactly what we need to do is enough of, it's now like, hey, let's all use our voices and work together. Polly.

Holly Smith  15:14  
Yeah, I can just kind of second that. Because, you know, I may not be sharing things in terms of mental health the same way that that just is, but I do personally struggle with my own mental health. And there have been so many countless occasions that, you know, it's easy to get lost in the just the meandering over social media. But there's also some very valuable information out there that, you know, can like just said that if you just following a particular person that might be inspiring, you're speaking to you in a way that you don't feel alone. And you can resonate. For myself, it was a addiction or habitual issues with alcohol, I guess you could say. And I've been sober now 18 months decision to cut it out of my life, because it was becoming a serious and it was becoming a problem. And without the resource of social media, that platform, I never would have found the coach that I had worked with, and been a part of, to help to get me silver. So I just think that it's a huge tool and a resource for us to connect with like minded people, and just share those inspiring stories that can reach a global capacity, which is pretty awesome. And I love that I

Laura Sanzo  16:24  
think that's perfect leeway into what Jessica does with TSR. So I wanted to just make sure we talk about this because every Saturday, Jesse hosts wellness conversations alive. And every Wednesday, you facilitate Wednesday workshops. And I think we got a little sense of what that looks like here tonight with Holly performing, but it includes journal prompts, live music, meditation, door prizes, and you do this different venues all around. So I just wanna make sure you talk about

Jessica Compton  16:49  
that a little bit. Yeah, so you know, before the pandemic, every other Tuesday, I was going around to different cafes. And then yeah, like I said, in different cities, different organizations, studios, anybody that would hold that space for a group of people to come in. I had a, you know, one standard, actually musician that used to come, Ashley Bell, you know, a great friend of mine, she used to we were basically on tour, we were touring around different cafes, and again, you know, anyone that would hold space for us, so that I would also hand out free journals, pens, door prizes, I would also lend hugs, you know, just helping hands of any sorts. And amongst that, like I said before, before pandemic, there was more going on, like it was more, I guess you could say organic, but it still is to the best of our abilities. But with the zoom, the outreaches is further I mean, there's 20 to 25 people that come in every Wednesday that are regulars. And they expose that, that they absolutely need that workshop and the workshop, I mean, I kind of label it like that, but it's more of a peer support. Come be yourself, you know, have your camera on or off. You know, even if you don't want to share, you can always pass it's a very compassionate, safe space place to come. And if I can't support that, I always extend that support, I have a lot of organizations that I'm collaborative in partnership with. And I have to thank all the sponsors, you know, especially through the pandemic, so I can pay the musicians and Holly's come into one of my zooms to recently, as a paid musician. All of these sponsors can be found on my website, and those sponsors are food essential places. So they've given $50 to $500. So that I, and I'm booked up all the way until March, every Wednesday. So yeah, I'm super excited. And how I find those musicians sometimes is just on Instagram, and I interview them, you know, the interview and to the workshop. So if they're in LA guess what I'm gonna pay pal? Yeah. So

Laura Sanzo  18:44  
I love this so much, because I feel that like people that maybe you know, surrounded with civil support friends and family and such, really cannot really understand that there's some people that just don't have that support. So something like this is really a life or death kind of situation for them. And it's easy to take for granted when you have the support when for when you don't, this is incredible. I love the work that you both do.

Jessica Compton  19:06  
So just to kind of, I really want to talk about two really quickly, is these individuals that come into the workshops, you know, even when it comes to the meditation, so we do have, you know, we talk about self care and resources, we do some journaling, and yes, there's music. Sometimes the musician stays or they leave because it is a paid gig. You know, they've their busy lives. But the ending of it that meditation. Again, it's optional if these people have never meditated before, and then some nights where we all have a box of Kleenex and that's okay, because we're human. And I always say that we're not perfect, but to feel what you feel, and to think what you think and and people are just so inspired by each other. Sometimes people come into the workshops going, I don't even know how to write and I'm like, that's okay. And then the next time they come, they're like, Oh my gosh, I was so inspired say by Holly, you know what she was sharing. I ended up starting to write in a journal. I'm like, perfect. That's your own therapy. Take that. Buck wherever you go.

Laura Sanzo  20:01  
I think for a lot of people music is therapy for them. Yeah, very low price therapy. You know what I mean? I think for a lot of people, it's just everybody's spoken to therapy. Even in just like to higher your frequency, like for a lot of people, even if they're feeling down, as soon as they start to listen to music, they just start to just, you know, vibrate differently and just start to feel differently. So music is huge. So I love that you incorporate that.

Jessica Compton  20:25  
Yeah, I think even just with the school and being online, like I convinced my principal, to to see if I could get some musicians to come in and play in the classrooms and they were paid gigs again, and I was like, Oh my gosh, yes. And these kids connected with these musicians, and sparked it up a bit because we all know how on the classroom online can be a little boring. Holly Canada's Got Talent is coming to Canada.

Holly Smith  20:50  
Oh, it really didn't know. I don't really pay attention to that kind of stuff. People always ask me Oh, would you go on those reality shows I'm about to roll. I'm kind of kind of a person that likes to write behind the scenes I don't really like to or play live like my love for music. And my passion is kind of writing and being more the studio be more of a recording artist. Yeah, not to say that that wouldn't change someday. That's just kind of where I'm at right now.

Laura Sanzo  21:16  
While you still working cane Independent Television. So I think it's great if one cane artist is are showcased in any, on any platform, it's so important for us to, to support Canadian artists and all there in the entire industry in

Holly Smith  21:30  
every industry. Oh, absolutely. And know the power of social media, and just how easy it is now for artists to even set up their home studios, and explore and create. That's how I got started. Like, literally, I had the coolest shop teacher in grade 11. I had no idea what I was going to do. Because I was not, you know, like an A level student or anything but having that opportunity to explore. In my shop class, she gave me the permission to literally use GarageBand figure out how to use GarageBand it was the strangest thing, the coolest teacher really, you know, just let me do something off curriculum. And from that I then went to school for Recording Arts like Recording Arts at Canada. So I learned how just to at the bare minimum record myself and now take these demos to studios to get things more professionally done.

Laura Sanzo  22:18  
It's definitely a different time. Sometimes I'll be watching TV and my 13 year old daughter and she like a YouTube or something. She'd be like, Oh, this is so and so. She's a famous Tick Tock singer. And I'm like, and I'm like trying to figure out how these musicians get famous from ticks off what they do. Anything is possible today. Anything? It's pretty awesome. It is. So Holly Jessica, I'll give you guys both the floor if there's anything that you're being called to share with the audience that we may not have covered.

Holly Smith  22:46  
Jess, I will I fall throw this out to you just because nobody's heard it. But do you want me to share your song that I wrote for you? Oh,

Jessica Compton  22:56  
yeah, it's, I think it's about five minutes. Do we have five minutes? Yeah, that's fine. That's a really intense emotional song. And yeah, I mean, just to kind of go back to Holly and I and our friendship and the things that we've collaborated on. I shared my story one weekend with Holly and within a weekend she wrote this song and recorded it in the studio and I would close up before this song before you play it. You can see that there hear the song as well on YouTube but with Holly's professionalism and the next steps that she's taking. Hopefully I'm crossing fingers that she'll agree to put it on my next album coming in October. And yeah, and just to kind of close up if anybody needs any kind of support. Find me on three a stars on every platform except for on Instagram. It's tracers on tour. I've always got a listening ear and if I can't help them I'll reach out extended Lee so I would love to close this up if that's okay with that with the song. Yes, it's a tear jerker, for sure. Actually, I

Laura Sanzo  23:54  
saw on your website by just before we get into the song, I just for people to sign up for the Wednesday works shops that they could just do that through Instagram. I just let make sure that everybody's clicking.

Jessica Compton  24:04  
So it's open. It's zoom on Wednesdays same zoom link, they can go to send me a message. I'll send you the link but it's on our link tree, which is on our website. Everything is linked there. But it's on our link tree and it's same every Wednesday they don't have to sign up anywhere just show up. Even if you're late that's okay.

Laura Sanzo  24:26  
Yeah, and definitely we'll put everything in the show notes but definitely head over to the to stars Instagram page because there's so much goodness on that page and your LinkedIn daddy pay there's like, just to go back to a scene and supporting so many other people. It's not just it's not about you at all is about supporting so many different people. So I

Holly Smith  24:43  
love that Holly. Yeah, yeah, no and I'm happy to share the song like just said I interviewed her, rented a cottage for a weekend and went away and just wrote in put everything kind of together in this in this song for justice story. If people would like to follow me they can find me on Instagram or Facebook Holly Smith music and I will kind of just pull up the mp3 here and let you guys have a listen hopefully you can hear it okay? The song is called a 180

taken away from my mind how much I was abducted and taken to this car and know when they the CBN is waiting in the store to understand this violating passenger right all right, I was abused to my toes like 30 men and women are just ever feeling frozen and molested and affected addicted and arrested more than four times so couldn't say no to the cigarettes or alcohol or tobacco. Let's not forget the hashtag when people think that they know what's wrong with

for the record, these are mysteries inside the song. How can I possibly get everything out? I just want alcoholic daddy pass away because to me an angel thing Teresa solo she was a big beginning to realize that I'm not what people think I am. I think I am I think I am I think I add just a label on top of Where's one with me. It's cool. I was really pushing people down got pleasure with the pain that I saw in the rounds and already and I said I will never be afraid to leave you thank you one at a funny too. You don't know. Three, one and how far we're like oh, it's not funny. Three, not a show. 49 Please stop.

When I was two girls started to build all my trades disintegrated because I was abused. Brought up not enough. couldn't handle all the feelings in your time for a 180 I'm growing big, just like a tree of stars. And no one not that far from total healing. This has been a catalyst was a new start.

Laura Sanzo  29:17  
Thank you so much for sharing that. Holly. Thank you so much for having us on here, Laura. Just so you must love when you heard that.

Jessica Compton  29:24  
The first time actually, she played that at my very first event with two other individuals and I didn't even hear the song at first. And when she played it, I was just in awe like the detail, the emotion. It really really showed that when she was at her friend's place for the weekend and putting the song together. She really really put her heart and soul into it. And I just I appreciate her and her music and everybody else that you know participates in, just in helping each other in any way we can. So thank you, Holly, just for being my My continuous friends. And yeah, Laura, this was super awesome. Thanks for having us on here.

Laura Sanzo  30:06  
Thank you for both being on here. I appreciate both of you. And we're lucky to have two souls like you in this world that are doing what you're doing. So thank you so much. Thank you so much, Holly, for sharing so much of your talent here tonight.

Holly Smith  30:18  
That was wonderful. I'm very appreciative of being a part of it. And of course, guess you are a light in this world that shines very bright. And I'm just happy to be able to have given that story back to you that song as a gift. So thanks again. Just Thanks. Thanks so much. Thanks for having us on here. Laura.

Laura Sanzo  30:36  
Thank you. Thank you, lady. Yes, thank you again. We hope you've enjoyed that episode of the Laura Sanzo podcast. Thank you to our guests to stay connected to host Laura Sanzo. Follow her at I am Laura Sanzo or at the Laura Sanzo podcast on Instagram. To learn more about Laura, go to WWE dot Laura

Transcribed by

Jessica talks about why she started Tree Of Stars
Jessica talks about her cafe tour
Jessica talks about how her and Holly met and connected over music. Holly shares how she got into music.
Jessica shares why she began to incorporate music into her cafe tour.
Holly sings live her newest single "Sunset Song".
Jessica talks about the importance of raising awareness for mental health.
Holly talks about how own journey with mental health and addiction.
Jessica talks about her wellness conversations and workshops.
Jessica talks about how people use her events as vessels for healing.
Holly shares a song that she wrote inspired by Jessica's journey.