The message is clear V.I. teenagers are against gun violence. With the message expressed in their original songs, two St. John teenagers were chosen to be a part of the upcoming full-length Speak Your Peace CD.
Sponsored in part by the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the Speak Your Peace campaign was open to all V.I. residents between the ages of 10 and 21. The youngsters were asked to compose original lyrics that included an anti-gun violence message.
Message from Teens to Teens
It is the hope of the PSN Media Outreach Committee, who put the program together, that hearing a message from people their own age and from their own neighborhoods, will dissuade teenagers and young adults from starting down the path to a life of violence in which guns are the centerpiece, according to the groups press release.
About eight students from Love City participated in the project and PSN Committee members hope more students get involved next year, said PSN Committee member Carole DeSenne.
This was our first year and we began the project in the summer, she said. We are going to try to step it up next year and launch the project during the school year. Were hoping that more young men and women come out next year.
Documentary, Public Announcements
PSN Committee members are also planning to create a documentary and public service an-nouncements about the Speak Your Peace project, according to PSN Media Chairperson Lou Lambert.
Were hoping to do a multi-part series and a documentary and get more into the issues and concerns about illegal handguns, he said. The students who are recording the songs are going to be our public service announcement spokespeople for TV and radio ads. We are really trying to get the message out.
Its amazing how many people gun violence touches, Lambert continued. Everyone is aware of the problem and the majority of the people dont condone and dont like it, but arent sure what to do about it.
This is a start at getting to the core of the gun violence issue, he added.
Tell Me Why
Zaid Sewer and Hasani Liburd were chosen along with 16 other winning entries to expand their 60-second songs and be a part of a full-length CD which will be distributed to students throughout the territory.
Sewer, a 15-year-old sophomore at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, said it wasnt difficult to write his song, Tell Me Why.
Once I got the concept, then the lyrics just came to me, he said. I like writing and do it a lot in my free time.
Sewer, who learned about the contest from his mother, was one of the first participants. He recorded his song at the Bellevue Village Community Center when Island SoundWorks hosted a recording session.
The St. John teenager was excited to take part in the project.
I think this sends a good message to the community because at this moment, the crime rate is really high, he said. This should have a positive impact and it also gives lots of children the chance to expose their talents.
Sewer, who hopes to have a career in the music business, enjoyed his first session in a professional recording studio.
I definitely want to be in the music field I want to be a producer, he said. I have lots of uncles who play music, so I guess its in my blood. Recording in Island SoundWorks studio was a new experience, but once I got to know the people, I felt really comfortable.
It was my vision and they created the beats, Sewer added.
The young songwriter urged other students to take part in similar competitions.
Its really good exposure to get involved with these projects and kids should take the opportunity and run with it, he said. A lot of musicians out today just talk about how many cars they have. Instead of that, its good to send a positive message.
Look out for more great things from this young singer and songwriter.
There is definitely more music in my future, said Sewer.
Thirteen-year-old Liburd was also picked to expand his song, On My Block, for the Speak Your Peace full-length CD. Liburd was off-island and could not be reached for comment.
Tell Me Why
by Zaid Sewer
Please tell me why…there is so much violence.
Please tell me why…there is so much crime.
We gotta stop deh looting and shooting
Stop all deh violence and the crime
Put away all deh guns dem misusing
All ah deh AKs and the nines
One time they gon start to mess up their lives
And still wanna take away yours
So choose the right path in life and success shall be yours
In these serious times that we live in today
Too many people are going astray
Too much violence and youths in crime
People shooting crazy like theyre out of their minds
One time people start to pull out their nines
Trying to take all that is mine
We gotta stop deh violence and crime
Put away all those uzies and nines