Jane Joy, founder of the Joy Foundation

Considering its modest locale, The Joy Foundation’s mission statement, “Creating Endless Possibilities,” may sound a little far-fetched. But a dive into the life of its founder shows us that more than ever, it’s a necessary motif for today’s youth.

Founded in 2003, the foundation is a public charity organization that uses art and music programs to enrich the community, one voice at a time. 

“When I was 13, my father became one of the facilitators at the Utah State Prison,” says Jane Joy. “I became familiar with a lot of the convicts, and my dad inspired me. He would always tell me, ‘Don’t judge them.’ Without failing, music and art changes them, and gives them something to feel good about.”

In between teaching her craft to disadvantaged and wayward youth at the Farmington Bay Youth Center, Joy runs an art studio for elementary-aged children—as well as one of the area’s best-kept secrets right next door: Bountiful Open Mic.

Photo by Lon Hazzard

Upon entering the snug space, a plaque tells us that “Without music, life would be meaningless.” Mosaic coffee tables and a quilted couch in the corner encourage visitors to cozy up. Meanwhile, a fully-equipped stage and soundboard allows performers to rock out with the fullest abandon.

Each Saturday night, audiences are treated to classical piano virtuosos, ukulelists covering Disney hits, and one of Joy’s favorites – The Mayor’s Office Band (playfully abbreviated TMOB), a family rock group from the Philippines.  

Walter Lanza has been hitting up the open mic for four months, and has already become a crowd favorite for his electric renditions of Beatles' classics; most notably, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Born and raised in Honduras, the young musician sings and plays the guitar, keyboard, drums, ukulele and bass.

Walter Lanza, photo by Lon Hazzard

“I’ve been making music since I moved to Utah because the whole scene sounded fantastic. It forces you to compete.” Inspiration for his original material is drawn from the usual—Led Zeppelin and Nirvana—to his hometown favorites, including Spain’s Heroes del Silencio (“Heroes of the Silence”) and Argentinian troupe Enanitos Verdes (“Green Little People”).

“We’re at a make it or break it point,” Joy says of the Open Mic, which is primarily supported by the Jordan Fundamentals Grant Program. “But we’re settling in, so we’re going to start expanding things.” In the works are a statewide art mobile, an art festival in Detroit, and the revival of her lauded monologue program.

Open Mics are held 8 p.m. on Saturdays at 36 E. 400 South, Bountiful. For more information, click here.