A documentary song comes from a person’s actual, lived experience. DocSongs document the emotions of that experience through music and share it with the world.


Songs of


Documentary songwriting is a powerful vehicle for telling women’s stories. It turns difficult experiences into beautiful music, and through collaboration it creates lasting bonds between participants. These real, truthful stories can help connect even more people.


Songs of #MeToo

From Executive Director Nora Willauer: "As a young woman in my 20s, I have been asked multiple times about my opinion of the #MeToo movement. It has taken a long time for me to sort out my feelings on this subject, and they are still evolving. I have my own story that has led me to these conclusions, and I have listened to stories from many of my friends. I believe that although the #MeToo movement provides a platform for women to share their stories and receive support, it understates the issue. For every woman that comes forward and bravely shares her story, there are thousands more who don’t have the opportunity. Furthermore, telling a story is only a tiny piece of the healing process.

I am currently pursuing my graduate studies in music performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I have been working with an organization called Documentary Songwriters for the past five years, and I wrote my undergraduate honors thesis on the relationship between classical music and documentary songwriting. This method of songwriting turns spoken word stories into songs, and attempts to bear witness to the human condition. It advocates deep listening and staying present to whatever may arise. It creates bonds of trust and gives voice to stories that otherwise may not be heard.

I want to use documentary songwriting as a vehicle for telling women’s stories. I will collaborate with participants in one-on-one songwriting sessions and subsequently record and share the songs depending on the participants’ level of comfort. In my own experience, documentary songwriting is an extremely cathartic process. Not only does it turn difficult experiences into beautiful music, but through collaboration it creates lasting bonds between participants. In concerts and with recordings, these real, truthful stories can then be spread across the world and help connect even more people.

While this project stems from the conversation around sexual misconduct, I want to include any relevant stories including ones of abuse, eating disorders, body challenges, unfair treatment in the workplace, etc. With this project I hope to support and empower women while also continuing the conversation of the breadth of issues women face daily."


It’s all about Forgiveness

I am the Hero



A number of our story sources and creative partners struggle with a mix or change of self-identity. They may hide away a part of themselves – the part that doesn’t fit or cannot adjust – to be accepted. This part of one’s self has a voice that deserves to be heard.


Identities Project

From Melodi Var Öngel and Malcolm Brooks: "We have met a number of people who struggle with a mix or a change of self-identity. In some instances, the struggle arises from upbringing. One of their parents may be from one culture and the other parent from another, quite different culture.

In other instances, the struggle arises from a foundational change in their life. A loved one dies, and the world may expect them to act in a different way.

To be accepted in their own culture, they may hide away a part of themselves – the part that doesn’t fit or cannot adjust. Yet this part of one’s identity has a voice. It, too, deserves to be heard.

We began collaborating with people who have experienced this inner conflict. The songs in this project come from people from contrasting cultures, such as Québec, Iraq, the United Kingdom, and the Côte d’Ivoire. What the songs reveal, at least to us, is grace and strength. Each song feels like an unanticipated treasure."


The Right to Love

This House Feels like a Home

Songs Across


Documentary songwriting can also be a potent humanitarian tool. From those who have found new homes, reflecting on journeys both intimate and international, these personal peace stories from cultures in conflict serve as the basis for powerful original songs.


Songs Across Boundaries

From Teaching Artist Melodi Var Öngel: "I had an opportunity to give a TEDx talk at Bath University about two international peace projects I did which were funded by Davis Foundation, one in Turkey and Armenia, and the other one in Cyprus. I shared my story about how I started to use music for social change, how I used documentary songwriting to bring peace to people in Cyprus, and all the struggles and successes I had during both projects. Especially the second peace project was more complex (gathering peace stories from two cultures in conflict and creating original songs from from these stories and finally performing all ten songs at three concerts in Cyprus).

These two peace projects did not only help me to better understand the depth of the conflicts in the region where I am from but also helped me to recognize the power of music, story telling, communication and friendship. Through these peace projects, I met so many beautiful people, created friendship with people from all different backgrounds and listened to so many powerful and inspiring stories.

I have been recently told that following my Cyprus project, three new humanitarian projects are being done using documentary songwriting to help women who have been sexually abused, give veteran soldiers a voice and to help refugees who are awaiting asylum in Belgium.

Thank you everyone who supported me during this process and thank you Bath University TEDx team for the great organization."



Ey Ney

Patates Kamyonunda (On the Potato Truck)

DocSong Archive

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  • Veteran Songs
Lalia 3

I’ll Share Here Story One Day

Facing one’s past can bring solace and hope.

Lalia Mangione playing opening notes to Journey through the Jordan

Journey Through the Jordan

Featured in Renovare Music’s “Boldly She Lives” concert, 2022



Khalid chooses love over shame, finding the strength and perseverance to continue shining.


See Through Your Eyes

Story Source Khalid Taylor shares how a child’s gift of unconditional love nudged him toward a more accepting internal dialogue.


Have Hope

Melissa shares a powerful message: have hope, you can still recreate your life.


Anybody but Myself

A veteran navigates feelings of deep solitude, until he experiences the life-saving lift of finding belonging in community.

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It’s all about Forgiveness

Gloria finds strength in the power of forgiveness.

Skyline city view with reflections on water. Original oil painting on canvas,

I am the Hero

Amy Burns discovers an ugly side to law enforcement and learns that she, in fact, is the hero.

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It’s a Warm Feeling to be Free

Liz discovers strength in living life on her own terms.