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Happy To Be Me: Tori, an Adult with Williams Syndrome, Promotes Disability Awareness with Music

Headshot of Tori Ackley against a black background.

Tori, a member of BHMA’s inaugural class, is an accomplished singer and songwriter who has been working to change how people with disabilities are perceived. Tori has Williams Syndrome, and notes that it has been particularly important to be able to raise awareness of what it is like to live with a disability through her music. She states, “I love that I can show people that just because I have a disability it doesn’t mean I can’t do things. Music is a release for me. It helps all of us through the hard times, and that is what it did for me.” Tori experienced bullying when she was younger, and these events had a profound impact on her development as a musician. She notes “I now am able to perform with the BHMA Troupe and the Kandoo Band, and I go to schools and other places to help them understand that people with disabilities should be treated with respect, because ultimately we are all just human. I’m like anyone else- I’m friendly and helpful, I love to cook and go out to eat, and spend time with friends and family. Having a disability is just one part of my life.”

Image of Jeremy Swartz, Etienne Perley, Tori Ackley, and Marco DiSantis performing on the BHMA porch.

Tori’s future goals include expanding her work as a solo musician. A talented pianist and vocalist, she is able to perform for a wide variety of audiences from children through older adults, and she is currently recording a new CD. Below is a video of Tori performing a song she recently wrote, called “Happy To Be Me.” Through this song, Tori was able to capture her journey of coming to a place in her life where she embraces who she is and feels positive about her contributions to society.  More information about Tori and her music can be found at


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