Local creator to host event focusing on healing powers of music

Topeka Capital-Journal, Nov. 3, 2020 – Read the original article here

Music and writing have helped SJ Hazim through some of the hardest times of his life. From losing his grandma at a young age to suffering the loss of his two best friends, Hazim’s life has been altered by the tragedies he has experienced.

But through it all, music has always been a steadfast friend to hold on to and when Hazim hosts his “I Pressed On” event Saturday at the Topeka Performing Arts Center, he hopes those in attendance recognize that music is a powerful healing tool.

Hazim, a local entrepreneur and creator, has organized an event for 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets for those under 18 years old are free and those over the age of 18 will need to purchase a $25 ticket.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting topekaperformingartscenter.org or TPAC’s box office located at 214 S.E. 8th Ave.

The event will feature several speakers and performers, including Kansas Poet Laureate Huascar Medina, slam poetry national champion Matt Spezia, former Leavenworth Mayor Jermaine Wilson, author Kevin Wilson, Topeka Unified School District 501 students and local artist Trevon Payne.

“So my whole purpose for this thing is you’re going to be able to see some great speakers who can speak to why music is important, why the arts are important and how the arts have always been the thresh for social change,” Hazim said. “I want people to be able to see how there’s power in being transparent and being open.”

Hazim also wants people to understand the power of writing and journaling.

According to Hazim, W. Walt Menninger — a psychiatrist who served as CEO of The Menninger Foundation from 1994 to 2001, will also receive an award for his dedication and work in the mental health field.

Menninger, who first met Hazim while he was performing at TPAC, said Hazim has opened his eyes to the world of hip-hop.

While Menninger is experiencing a new genre of music now, the healing power of music has always been obvious to him.

Menninger’s perspective of music as a therapeutic measure isn’t only a professional one. He spent his high school years singing in a choir and many years singing in his church’s choir.

“You can tell it’s therapeutic to oneself by singing in the shower, when you feel good,” Menninger said. “I think what’s fascinating in part is how much one can express in music, a range of mood. You can express rage, great joy. I’ve sensed the power of music through SJ. His creation has expression in it (that’s) able to help him organize thoughts and feelings.

“Music therapy has always been one of the significant adjunctive therapies in psychiatric treatment.”

For Hazim, writing and using music as therapy have helped him through some of the toughest times of his life.

“It’s how I process information,” Hazim said. “It’s how I process my hurt and everything like that. I go to the pad because the pad is my confidant. It knows everything about me because I write things down that I might not share with anyone else until I’m ready to. So I think it’s a form of something that I can run to when there’s so much going on in here, sometimes I just have to let it all sink in.”

Hazim, who has been working closely with Jobs For American’s Graduates-Kansas and recently presented during one of its leadership conferences, said he hopes kids who are a part of JAG-K come to the event.

According to Beverly Mortimer, senior vice president of program development for JAG-K, said the event will be promoted to its students and she thinks young adults can learn a lot from the event.

Mortimer said she has been intrigued by hip-hop and rap music and understands it is a way for people to express themselves.

“They may not be confident enough to perform that (music), but the fact that they can get their feelings out whether it starts on paper or whatever it is, that’s big,” Mortimer said.

Being able to open the door and allow students to network with people like Hazim is important in showing kids that they can also do great things with their life.

Chrishayla Adams, statewide student president for JAG-K, said music leaves a message and she hopes her peers leave the event knowing that.

“Right now the way most people think of rap music is it leaves a bad message,” Adams said. “For those people that do give a good message, it’s good for people to get uplifted. I know a lot of people a lot of times can relate to artists an relate to music because something maybe they are going through at home that they just don’t talk about.”