Making music to raise awareness for human trafficking

Ally Nelson

Local musician and Weber State University student Caden Holmes will be releasing his second album, “Commonground,” on April 10 on streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

Local musician and WSU student Caden Holmes&squot; album "Commonground" will release on Apr. 10.
Local musician and WSU student Caden Holmes' album, "Commonground," will release on April 10. Photo credit: Caden Holmes

April 10 will also be the launch of Holmes’ online merchandise store. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds made from the store will be donated to the Polaris Project.

The Polaris Project, founded in 2002, is a non-profit organization that has educated people about and saved people from human trafficking all around the world. According to their website, it was inspired by the story of the North Star, which guided slaves in the United States as they broke away from the chains of ownership.

When Holmes began working on his album over a year ago, he never imagined it would have turned into the purposeful project it is now.

Before Holmes began working on “Commonground,” he and his friend and future manager Ryan Trease worked at Goldenwest Credit Union together. They became fast friends after realizing they both had a common desire of pursuing future advocacy for issues around the world.

While Holmes and Trease sat down to discuss possible ways the album could make a positive impact in the world, they came to an agreement that human trafficking, and more specifically, child trafficking, is the most important social issue that occurs today.

“It’s something that hits home for everybody,” Trease said. “I don’t know of anybody who can hear about an incident or a run-in with somebody at the grocery store about a child getting abducted without feeling some sort of emotional response.”

Despite the gravity of the issue and the emotional response it induces, Trease said it still tends to get swept under the rug.

Caden Holmes&squot; genre style is described as "more on the folk/indie side," with smooth, laid-back acoustics. Holmes&squot; second album, "Commonground" will be released Apr. 10.
Caden Holmes' genre style is described as "more on the folk/indie side," with smooth, laid-back acoustics. Holmes' second album, "Commonground," will be released April 10. Photo credit: Pixabay

Even though music has always been a passion for Holmes, he had a bigger passion for making a change in the world. It’s an aspect he never dreamt of actively participating in, but it has made creating music that much more important to him.

“As I finished the whole album, I realized I was kind of taking on a whole different form,” Holmes said. “I’ve started to see it as a vehicle to do good.”

Feeling dissatisfied with his first album, “Ghost,” not because he didn’t enjoy the songs he wrote, but because he questioned the album’s purpose, Holmes wondered, “What good has come out of this project?” That thought process segued him into fundraising for a better cause.

Aside from the music, Holmes’ and Trease’s main goal is to bring awareness to the dangers and the commonality of child trafficking.

“We’re working towards something that could potentially save someone’s life, thanks to the help from the Polaris Project,” Holmes said. “I’m sure that this won’t be the first and only project that does this. I’m sure there will be many others to follow.”

Trease described Holmes’ genre style as “more on the folk/indie side.” “Commonground” features laid-back acoustics inspired by the Ogden mountain ranges and has a general theme of exploring outside of your company.

The "Commonground" merchandise graphic represents the inspiration of the Ogden mountain ranges behind Caden Holmes&squot; music.
The "Commonground" merchandise graphic represents the inspiration of the Ogden mountain ranges behind Caden Holmes' music. Photo credit: Caden Holmes

From that, Holmes traced an outline of the Ogden mountain range as a simple yet eye-catching way of representing the sound of the album. He is also using the graphic on the merchandise to promote the new album.

Gem Studio, a store at the City Creek Center in Salt Lake City, teamed up with Holmes and Trease by providing gift cards for the first few buyers on the website.

During checkout on Holmes’ website, the first few customers to buy two or more items will win a merchandise basket that will include a hat or t-shirt, stickers and more.

On April 11, Holmes will perform “Commonground” in full at Slackwater Pizzeria & Pub in Ogden. Attendees will be able to donate to the Polaris Project in person during the concert.