Written by Colleen Ahern
Amid the towering antique aircraft of Addison’s Cavanaugh Flight Museum, teens gathered to rock out, create graffiti, and celebrate healthy relationships for the Be Project’s Music 4 Change concert on June 28th. Featuring local artists Rhea Raj, Dallas Wayde, Bentley Green and Marcella Fruehan, the concert was organized by Be Project’s student run group, Be More, that organizes events to speak out against bullying and violence in the media.
Teen leader Stephanie Castaneda has been involved with the Be Project for three years. She does everything from helping to organize social events to starting conversations about dating violence in schools. Teens like Stephanie work in unison with counselors who visit schools to advise students on dating violence and bullying. “One thing we did recently was to go to high schools, and during the lunch periods we would read statistics about sexual assault,” Stephanie said.
But at Music 4 Change, no one read aloud statistics. Instead, the focus was on having fun. As 15-year-old rapper Dallas Wayde performed onstage, his partner Rapjure jumped to the floor to get the crowd going. Between acts, kids posed with glow sticks in front of a photo wall and scribbled designs on a collection of graffiti posters. Director of the Be Project, Liz Ferrigno, was pleased by the positive atmosphere of the event. “We wanted to do something that was for something instead of against. It’s more proactive to have celebrations instead of just rallying against something all the time,” she said.
If you listened close enough, though, you could tell that the kids there were passionate about ending the cycle of bullying and dating violence. 12 year old performer Bentley Green got involved with Be Project last year after he recorded a song called “No More Pain,” that speaks out against bullying with lyrics like “keep standing tall keep doing you/ never quit don’t worry bout what bullies do.”
Musicians like Bentley are a rarity among pop and hip hop artists, many of whose lyrics contain stories of violence and unhealthy relationships. Stephanie Castaneda, who is a member of her high school’s dance team, remarks on how difficult it is to find songs to perform to that have a positive message. “Even if the lyrics are ‘clean’, they could have a really negative message,” she explained, mentioning, for example, the popular Eminem song, “Love the Way you Lie.” “I wish music could just be music,” Stephanie mused. “Why can’t someone just sing a song about having fun with your friends that’s not about drinking?”