Jahbar I continues with the Magic - Artiste, band speak out on mental health
From reggae/dancehall recording artistes like Bugle and Naomi Cowan, to musicians, dancers and poets like Suzanne Couch and Tara Price are using their voices, instruments and social-media platforms to raise awareness of mental health.
Some of these entertainers have also stepped up their support in breaking the stigma of talking about depression, through participating in the monthly staged event, A Night of Magic.
For Jahbar I, son of veteran musician and Firehouse Crew bandleader George 'Dusty' Miller, his interest in the initiative increased after he attended a staging. "It all started when I had the opportunity to observe persons in the audience being so in tune with what the entertainers were saying," the 21-year-old told The Gleaner.
He continued, "Myself, along with the Firehouse Crew, felt like it was the right time to take a stand against depression - being able to enlighten people who are depressed with our music and energy."
They will be performing at the next staging of A Night of Magic on Thursday, September 6. While in high school, Jahbar battled with a lot of emotions, following the death of a close friend whom he wrote a song for, Tribute to Kimali. He noted that writing the song also helped him. Although he did not go through any form of depression, it was a sad period, and the tragedy sparked his consciousness even more.
BREAKING THE STIGMA
"Personally, I think we all go through a phase of depression throughout our lives, whether it be for long or short periods," said Jahbar I. "Many times children are overlooked - that is, adults think they (children) have nothing to be depressed about or have no clue what depression is. That in itself is a stigma. I truly believe shows like this have raised awareness to gradually break the stigma surrounding depression."
The monthly event has found its home in the intimate setting of the Stone's Throw Bar. According to Angelique Cohen, the founder of Angelique's Project, the artistes who perform are not necessarily expected to share a personal experience with depression, but their music or words must resonate positive energy.
"Magic has specifically used the platform of music and the arts, towards raising awareness - which the host speaks of throughout the show. I normally give a speech as well," said Cohen.
She says she is humbled to know that artistes are open to the idea of contributing their time to participate, as persons are now reaching out to the group.
"I believe music is cultural therapy. For me it was a part of saving my life - bringing me back from a state of depression (where I attempted suicide) and comforted me after a friend of mine took her own life," she said. "I truly believe music and the arts heal, there's something that is more captivating and allows you to express yourself."
In like manner, Jahbar I is preparing to deliver a set that will capture the attention of the audience, especially the younger generation.
"I want to take our outreach as far as possible - from inspiring people to saving souls, especially the children, because it is better to get the message to them from an early age," said Jahbar I.
He added, "Though I may not have the same experiences, I can fully relate to the feelings of depression, and I would love to be able to tell them it can be conquered," he added.
Jahbar I's singles, Legal Scamma, Friendly Foes, High Tonic and Many Talking, are currently making the rounds on the airwaves, but there are other songs in his catalogue that resonate with the message of breaking the stigma of depression that persons will hear in what he hopes will be a magical performance.