Stockton Soul emerged from the shared experiences of founders, Darcy Ford-James and Jonathon Ivy. They felt trapped and limited by a hierarchical system of studying string instruments that values one form of music over all others. Seeking to create a space for themselves and their students where they could feel comfortable performing and enjoying the music they loved on their violin and cello, they decided to revisit the concept of the “soul orchestra” made popular by Motown, and other artists from the 1960’s and 70’s like Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes.

Stockton Soul is an outlet for artists and creatives working within the fold of Black American Music. Not only is it a vehicle to inspire the community, but it seeks to encourage all students to pursue careers in music and to feel at ease with their musical preferences. It uses live music to educate about the beautiful elements and movements in Black American Music and their inextricable links to American History.

In September 2021, founding member Jonathon Ivy died as a result of suicidal depression. After that tragic event a new, more urgent, mission of Stockton Soul emerged. This mission is to address the mental wellness issues that are currently running rampant and wreaking havoc amongst people of all ages like addiction, bullying, poor self-esteem, economic insecurity, and all forms of trauma. Stockton Soul infuses music, lyrics, and personal lived experience–providing a unique platform for destigmatizing the conversation about mental health.

In February of 2022, Stockton Soul toured local schools and spread its message in Stockton, Lodi, and Manteca for Black History Month. Students and teachers alike were moved by the experience as demonstrated by enthusiastic reviews and proclamations during and after the performances. Energized by this positive feedback, Stockton Soul will continue on it’s growth and plans to produce 3-4 major thematic concerts, a stage show, and another round of school tours within the next several years.


Hours: 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri
Plus 2 hours prior to concerts

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