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Nashville saxophone player heals his mental health with every note he plays

Jamaine Pitts
Posted at 11:39 AM, Dec 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 00:14:36-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — In America's Music City, it isn't hard to find a musician, when just about anywhere can be turned into a stage.

But in a town with this many musicians, it is a big deal when you can get people to stop and listen.

"I think he’s amazing," said one visitor to Centennial Park. "We heard him all the way over there and we walked all the way around to just listen to him."

Accompanied by just an iPad and a small speaker, Jamaine Pitts spends a lot of evenings here delighting crowds. He'll be the first to admit, that's not why he performs. "I’m going to be selfish and say it’s more therapy for me than it is for anyone else," said Pitts.

Like a lot of Americans, Pitts' life sounded sweet until a minor chord of COVID-19 caused major mental health problems.

"Extremely happy, full of energy to just literally not wanting to live anymore because I couldn’t interact with other people," he said. "I woke up one day, and I went to my doctor and she said -- you have to get help because you might not be here very much longer."

So a few months ago, Pitts started attending regular mental health therapy sessions with Claudyne Jefferson.

"What do you think we ought to mess around with this evening?" asked Jefferson.

"I think we need to mess with scatterbrained today because I’m really scatterbrained," said Pitts.

That's when Pitts realized, some of these issues may have just surfaced, but they've been plaguing him for years.

"All that this trauma that I have. All the problems that I’m dealing with, they all start with my biological mother, my biological father, my adoptive mother and my adoptive father," he told his therapist.

So Pitts decided to do in-patient rehab for his alcohol addiction, commit to regular therapy and at the suggestion of his therapist, find some blessed assurances through his own talents.

"Music has charm that soothes the savage beasts," Jefferson told us.

In addition to busking for the occasional tips, Pitts also plays at homeless encampments across the city, where he rarely makes a cent.

"I always play something that makes me feel something. Because if I don’t feel it, no body else is going to feel it," said Pitts.

But by playing his saxophone, he hopes he's paying it forward.

"I feel like the people who need to hear music the most are those who are going through something," he said. "People who are struggling with mental health will see that if you have mental health and you get help you can actually enjoy your life. You don’t have to -- it doesn’t always have to be clouds and thunderstorms all the time."

And even on the days when his change cup is overflowing, the real payback comes in the form of compliments.

"I can’t count on my fingers and toes in one day how many people come up to me and they say - thank you so much for what you’re doing, we need this so bad," said Pitts.

Because you can find a musician in Music City, just about anywhere. But it's are when you find a one man ministry.

"The fact I get to bless people doing something that brings me joy and stress relief -- I can’t ask for anything better," said Pitts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health -- call 1-855-CRISIS-1.