AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
Music and the arts have greatly impacted my life. When I was younger, I was bullied, and that destroyed my self-esteem and made me angry. Listening to music from a diverse range of bands and artists—Eminem, Timbaland, Linkin Park, Nickelback—eased the tension I felt.  
 I wouldn’t have gotten into the arts were it not for my music teacher, who taught me to practice on a drum set and pushed me to do what makes me feel good about myself.  Since then, I’ve been constantly listening to music and practicing my craft. The artistic interests in my life, like drawing, drumming and dancing, have given me an outlet and purpose. 
I wanted to hear how art has been a part of others’ lives, so I talked to two local artists: Rene Dongo, the ZUMIX Radio Program Coordinator, and Kashus, a singer with me in the Boston Children’s Choir.  
 
How did you first get into music? 
Rene: I got into music because I like to dance. As a child, it was very fun to move around, and it's more fun when there's actual music playing, so my parents would play music for us— disco, salsa, ballads, anything. I would just dance around, and it was kind of something that was appreciated by my family. I think that was something that I liked about it, because it brought a lot of joy to my family. We all danced around, and it was something that was generally agreed upon as something that was really good to do.  
Kashus: I've always been around music my whole life. Both my parents play a lot of music—hip hop, rock, alternative—so I've always been involved with music.  Ever since I was young, I loved singing. I was singing before I was talking. I just came out the womb singing. 
 
How has music impacted your life? 
Rene: I think art changes everything when you’re a kid. Especially when I was a teenager, I feel like I was able to see a lot of art that made me think about how you could have power with it.  Like when I watched a film and was like “Oh my God! I'm really super excited for this character,” I realized that was important. So talking about how much I appreciated art turned into, “Why can't I make art too?” 
Kashus: Music is...what gets me up in the morning. If I feel unmotivated or depressed, music is always there to give me a little pick-me-up. I feel like music has made me a better person, because it inspires me to do art—to sing and to create music, poetry and writing. 
 
Why do you think music is beneficial to people? 
Rene: If music didn't exist, I feel like people would implode. I don’t know how people could contain themselves. People are always doing bass beats and kind of need music to let off steam. I think that helps people be a little free. Without music, can you imagine the world being super silent? I feel like music allows people to get on a different level of communicating with each other. You feel it. 
Kashus: I don't know a single person who doesn't love music. There's so many different kinds of music that can relate to so many types of people. It's such a beautiful thing. 
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AFH Photo// Aijanah Sanford
It all started when I was on tour in Vermont with ZUMIX.  
One day in Vermont, I was talking with Scott, a staff member at ZUMIX, about getting more performance opportunities. At ZUMIX, I am a songwriter and performer, and I felt I was not performing enough for others to hear the messages in all the songs that I write.  
Two months later, Scott told me all about an opportunity sponsored by the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center. “Someone wrote a rap, but they don’t want to perform it,” Scott said. “I’ve been looking for some youth to rap over it instead—do you want to do it?” 
“Yeah, sure,” I said. 
For the next three weeks, Scott helped me figure out the verse, chorus and hook of the song. We practiced almost 30 minutes every week. “I think as an artist it's kind of your responsibility to help each other out,” Scott said.  
On the day of the performance, I was ready to go onstage and do my thing. I practiced during my free period at school, and then when school was out, I went straight to ZUMIX to meet Corey, the songwriting and performance teacher. “Abe, get ready, we’re leaving in a few!” he told me.   
Corey and I took a water taxi to South Boston. We walked to a waterfront hotel that was really fancy inside, with sofas, a TV in the lobby and lots of good food. “Help yourselves; there’s food for everybody!” said the host. I had cannoli, muffins, chocolate cake and donuts. Then, Corey told me there were 600 people there to watch me perform. I could feel my heart pounding like crazy, because I’d never performed in front of that many people before. Even though I was a little nervous, all I had to do was take a few deep breaths to calm my heart down. I knew I had to get up on that stage and perform, because it’s what I love to do.  
Soon it was time to wait in the green room. When I entered the green room, a man dressed as Paul Revere greeted us. “Are you ready to go onstage and perform?” he said. “Yeah man, bring it on,” I replied. After getting ready for my biggest show so far, I knew I was prepared. Paul Revere announced my name and I walked onstage.  
I took the wireless mic in my hand.  
“Sit back and enjoy the show!”  
And then I started rapping. Man, I love doing this. I want to do this in the future, I thought. I want to continue this rap career. I have a message to send out to people that they can relate to.  
When I finished the first song, everyone applauded. They wanted more! I was repeating, “Thank you, thank you.” I then decided to perform the first song I had ever written.  It’s a song I wrote three years ago about the Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady (known as the “greatest of all time” or the “GOAT”) and how he didn’t deflate the footballs in Deflategate.  
“Who here is from New England?” I asked the crowd. They all raised their hands.  
“Who here loves the Patriots?” I asked. Everyone started cheering. 
“Well I have a song for you about their quarterback—the GOAT!” I said. The audience cheered even louder.  
“People thought he cheated, in the game he’s not defeated,” I rapped. “People doubted his agilities, and now they discovered he’s got unstoppable abilities.”  
The audience loved it.  
“Unfortunately, that’s all I have for you guys today, but you should check out my Soundcloud and ZUMIX’s Soundcloud,” I said. “Goodnight! Thanks for coming out! Hope you all enjoyed the show!”  
 

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AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
The ZUMIX Radio studio is a warm, windowless room, with two lights and a table at the center with five microphones. Sitting at the engineer’s chair, you’ll see the soundboard has lots of buttons. On the computer, you choose the music for your show, like Paramore or Arctic Monkeys or Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then, you start thinking about your topic for the week. As the time for your show to begin approaches, you feel anxious, but excited to talk about topics people are interested in. When you finally press the big red button to turn your mic on, you feel even more nervous. Then, your show begins. You’re on the air.  
I go to the radio studio every Wednesday because it makes me feel like my voice is heard. People are listening to my opinions and that makes me feel important. I am a part of ZUMIX Radio, a youth based radio station in East Boston, because it has helped me find my voice. Youth radio is a big part of my life and I wanted to see how it’s also a huge part of others’ lives.  
I spoke to Angelina Botticelli, another youth host at ZUMIX Radio and found out radio has also impacted her in similar ways. Botticelli started with ZUMIX  in 2012 and still has a weekly show—Bad Gal Radio, where she talks about social justice issues, feminism and music. Like other youth DJs at ZUMIX, Botticelli makes her show her own. “It’s helped me be very comfortable with my thoughts and opinions,” she said. “It's given me the platform to share my ideas and what I want to see happen, because I talk about a lot of social justice issues and community events, and I talk about things that impact me as a woman.”  
Like ZUMIX, Yollocalli Arts Reach is a youth-based art initiative. However, they are based in Chicago, where they broadcast two hours per week from a low-power FM station, Lumpen Radio. Gerry Salgado was one of the first youth participants in the radio class and stuck around for a few years. Now he helps out with the production of the weekly show. “Our main thing to do on our show is talk about our neighborhood around us and our city, Chicago,” Salgado explained.  
 Like me, radio has helped many other youth find a happy place. “It’s been my therapy,” Botticelli said. “No matter how much it’s changed and morphed and developed and grown, it’s always been something I’ve looked forward to and I’ve never felt stressed out about it.” Radio for Botticelli has evolved over time, but it still has that same impact and emotions it did on day one. 
Radio is a beautiful art that has impacted many youth and the people who listen. It has grown into something that many young people are trying and are having amazing experiences. 
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AFH Photo//Aijanah Sanford
ZUMIX is a space that draws you in. Headquartered in an old firehouse in East Boston, the building’s walls are covered with audition notices, event announcements, artist profiles and shelves of old records. String lights give the classrooms a warm glow, while the dark corners are filled by the shadows of pianos, guitars and drumsets. On Tuesdays between 4 and 6 pm, when Teens in Print’s Carla Gualdron and Alyssa Vaughn visit ZUMIX for the Pass the Mic program, the room across the hall is occupied by an elementary school chorus; the open space above, by a drumming program. The mixed sounds of the building pass through the walls, setting a beat for the teens typing away at their articles.  
The goal of the Pass the Mic program is to introduce a new cohort of students to journalism by integrating Teens in Print’s curriculum into an existing youth development program. At ZUMIX, this is Brittany Thomas’s radio class. Thomas, who circles the room along with Gualdron and Vaughn, helping students structure their articles and integrate quotes, thinks the programs were an obvious pairing. “The goal of both our radio program and Teens in Print is opening space for youth to talk what they care about...and getting youth to think about news both as producers and readers,” she said. 
Both radio and print journalism rely heavily on good communication and presentation skills, but each has nuances particular to its format. Pass the Mic students hope to gain a variety of skills from their time as journalists, whether it is bettering their writing skills, exploring a new genre and medium, or using interviews as an opportunity to get rid of a stutter. “[Journalism has] taught me to be more investigative...to go straight to what you actually want to find,” said Cristian Palma, a Snowden International High School sophomore. “And people skills! You’re actively responding to questions, and you’re actively interviewing people, and you’re actively writing it down for the world to see.”  
Many of the students spend a lot of time at ZUMIX. Often on the recommendation of a music teacher, they wander in and never leave. In addition to radio, quite a few students take music-related classes. Abe Caban Reyes, an Excel Academy Charter High School sophomore who is taking a songwriting class in addition to the radio program, mentions the genre-transferable skills that journalism has given him. “By taking two writing classes, I think I can be a better journalist, I can be a better songwriter.”  
Both ZUMIX and Teens in Print lets students extend their influence into the world. “It’s really fun, and it is exciting to actually present your views to the world, to talk to everybody, see what people might react to it, and getting information that might be useful to someone,” said Palma. 
“Pass the Mic isn't simply the Teens in Print curriculum taken on the road—with each cycle, we're meeting new teenagers and taking notes from other youth-serving organizations, and we're using those insights to enhance our own programming," said Vaughn. "For example, I think our partnership with ZUMIX's radio program really reinforced the value of interviews in the reporting process. Because our ZUMIX cohort was producing entire radio shows out of their interviews, the quotes in their articles are some of the most robust in this entire issue, and that really gives those pieces a particular color and flair." 
Caban Reyes, swiveling in a chair in the recording studio, said, “I felt like I had a story to tell...I feel like there’s more news out there in the world that people don’t know about, and it’s really important for teens to have a voice in that kind of stuff.” 
The articles in this section were each produced during the nine-week Pass the Mic cycle at ZUMIX.  
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AFH Photo // Vanessa Vo
“War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.” These are the words of Barrett Strong in opposition to the Vietnam War.  Musicians protested American involvement in that conflict through protest songs akin to this one. Music has long been used to express feelings about life and politics. Protest music rallies people to a cause with a battle cry and gives a voice to the broken, the beaten and the damned.  People from all backgrounds and causes have made their voices heard through the powerful messages behind their music. Here are some famous examples of American protest music through the decades. 
 
Willy and the Poorboys, “Fortunate Son” (1969) 
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son 
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no. 

On March 8, 1965, 3,500 United States Marines came ashore at Da Nang as the first wave of U.S. combat troops into South Vietnam. Anti-war protests broke out across the country and artists made their voices heard. “Fortunate Son” makes directs reference to the drafting of young men and raised the point that no “fortunate sons” were being sent to war, often due to their wealth or government connections.   
 
Michael Jackson, “We Are The World” (1985) 
We are the world. We are the children. We are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving.

Oh, I’m sorry, do I need to elaborate?  Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote “We Are the World” to raise money to support several African nations as they endured a famine.  The charity single sold over 20 million copies. The song’s message resonates even today. 
 
Green Day, “Holiday” (2004) 
Sieg heil to the president gasman! Bombs away is your punishment!

While much of Green Day’s discography qualifies as protest music, their message was most clear on their album American Idiot (2004).  Specifically, the song “Holiday,” shines a rage-filled light upon the Bush administration set to some killer bass. The song pays special attention to Bush with the lyrics. There are references to Bush’s war-mongering approach towards governance and his family's connections to petroleum companies, implying the war was being fought for monetary gain.  The Bush administration is arguably characterized by its militaristic approach to foreign affairs, most notably in its fixation on possible nuclear arms in Iraq. “Bombs away is your punishment” can be interpreted as another reference to the brutality and fear-mongering of his administration.  
 
Music is the ultimate form of self-expression.  Using their music, artists can reach out to people worldwide.  Protest music does just that in an attempt to raise awareness for causes ranging all over the ideological spectrum.  In a time of growing tensions, we must look back upon the great artists who used their voice to empower millions. A legendary man once wrote a song about that very thing.  A song that shines a light on -isms, -ists, him, her, us, them, everyone.  A song that gives the world a simple instruction. Give Peace A Chance- John Lennon. 
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