#16: Anna-Liisa Donatella:

#16: Anna-Liisa-Donatella

by The Healer Hip Hop | Podcast

Anna-Liisa Donatella has always been connected to arts: singing, making music, dancing. She’s practicing and teaching Yoga, and is involved in several pre-dominantely female empowerment projects.

She was into choirs from a very young age. At first, she was told she  didn’t have much of a voice and was not allowed to join the local choir. But she didn’t allow that to crush her vocal confidence, so she kept auditioning and eventually got in to the Cathedral girls choir in Winchester. She has since joined and led many more choirs and got a Gospel Mentorship.

The school of knowmads has changed her life. It’s for “lost birds” and she lost her voice there. She started dancing and had the opportunity to dance in front of the whole school and there she started to reinvent herself. Her alter ego – the fairy – made her dance through an old trauma and it made her realize how healing dancing and art is. This is the film Anna-Liisa talks about in the Interview – created and performed by her. It’s a performance about a healing journey, a transformation of pain into power. 

Still on her healing journey she went to Trinidad and Tobago with her Gospel mentor. All of sudden she found herself in the jungle as part of her mentor’s family with her mentor’s father slowly passing away. The atmosphere there allowed her to just sit there and sing along to the piano, no matter what would actually come out – whispers or silent songs.

Over time she found her voice appearing again and she now wants to help others who have experienced the same thing. When I asked her if she could share with us the music she sang in Trinidad, something magical happened. Anna-Liisa has since published her song not only for the podcast, but also shared it with the whole world, video and all. She also plans to do more music and two choir projects. I’ll share any news with you guys!

Her blog ‘How to be happy’ contains musings, stories, pastoral philosophy, resonant thoughts, diary writing (journal) recommendations and tools for your own process, ideas in collision with facts, pitches and gestures, loving words and non-sensical pieces that she have thought about and enjoyed. An assortment of sensations to try and answer this one question: “how to be happy, indeed.”

Other links:

Virtual choir by Eric Whitacre

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Happy Movember! Just like the October playlist, this month’s playlist turned out to be very smooth and laid back again. I’m still in my recovery mode and also it starts getting darker out here, so the music reflects my blue mood and my slower moves…

Also, I felt for some old-school Soul Music – or is it middle school? – by Georgia Anne Muldrow, Frank Ocean and my dearest Erykah Badu.

I want to point out ‘Run Away’ by Georgia Ann Muldrow in particular by sharing the video and lyrics:

 

 

Another song I want to point out is by Ayilla, an artist I connected with on IG. Let me know what you guys think, but I love it!

 

So until next month, enjoy some good music and some bubble baths…Be safe!
Xxx, Ana

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You can support my work if you become a Patron. It’s simple: choose one of 4 tiers and receive shoutouts, free The Healer Hip Hop Merch, behind the scenes access and more!

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The healing power of Hip Hop

The healing power of hip hop

File 20170726 14517 sc2a8r.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
J Cole at Etihad Stadium in 2014. Cole (aka ‘Therapist’) runs non-profit organisation Dreamville Foundation, and houses single mothers rent-free in his childhood home.
Photo supplied by Michelle Grace Hunder

Guestpost by Alexander Crooke, University of Melbourne and Raphael Travis Jr., Texas State University

Last year, New York’s then police commissioner Willam Bratton was quick to blame rap music and the culture around it for a fatal backstage shooting at a concert by the rapper T.I. Ignoring wider issues of gun control, Bratton pointed at “the crazy world of the so-called rap artists” that “basically celebrates the violence”.

Hip Hop culture and rap (a method of vocal delivery popularised through hip hop music) have for more than four decades been bundled with a range of negative connotations, leading many like Bratton to equate them only with profanity, misogyny, violence and crime. Prosecutors in the US have labelled rap lyrics a criminal threat,
and numerous studies have been undertaken on the harmful influence of hip hop on kids.

There’s no denying that the lyrical content of hip hop is confronting, and in many instances, it includes the glorification of violence, substance use, and gender discrimination. But while many people struggle to look past the profanity, materialism, and high-risk messages often celebrated within mainstream rap music, hip hop culture at its core, is built on values of social justice, peace, respect, self-worth, community, and having fun. And because of these values, it’s increasingly being used as a therapeutic tool when working with young people.

School counsellors, psychologists, and social workers have helped to normalise the option of integrating hip hop within mental health strategies. Indeed it has become central to the work of one group of psychiatrists at Cambridge University, who under the banner of “hip hop pysch”, use it as a tool in promoting mental health. Some have even called rap “the perfect form for music therapy.”


A presentation from ‘hip hop psych’ on a Tupac song.

Born in New York City, hip hop culture is now a worldwide phenomenon. You’d be hard-pressed to find any country that doesn’t have some kind of hip hop scene. This new reality is driven by two factors. One is the commercialisation of the culture as a commodity, which has made it one of the most influential industries in the world with its own Forbes rich list.

The other is that hip hop remains accessible and grassroots. At its simplest, you can make a beat with your mouth – beatboxing – or on a school desk, and create or recite lyrics about anything without singing. The proliferation of cost-friendly, music-creating software and hardware puts more involved participation in reach, and allows flexibility in creativity and even pathways to entrepreneurship.


The beatboxer Tom Thum demonstrates his prowess.

Marginalised communities the world over resonate with the ethos of resisting exclusion or discrimination and fighting for equity and justice. Others just love the beats and lyrical flow. Beyond beats and rhymes, there’s also something for everyone: B-Girls and B-Boys dance, DJ’s scratch and mix, and graffiti artists draw and write. Combined with emceeing, or rapping, these are the four basic elements of hip hop, with the fifth being Knowledge of Self: the drive for self-awarness and social-consciousness.


Participants in the RMIT Link Bust A Groove Dance Competition.
Photo supplied by Michelle Grace Hunder

This accessibility and inclusivity makes hip hop such an effective therapeutic tool for working with young people. It’s a style most feel comfortable with and it provides a way to build rapport between client and therapist. The lyrical content is a vehicle for building self reflection, learning, and growth. Whether analysing existing songs, or creating new content, the vast array of themes found in hip-hop songs enable therapists to access topics that may otherwise be hard to talk about.

The repetitive, predictable nature of hip hop beats is also said to provide a sense of safety, particularly during song writing, and lyrical and musical improvisation. Therapists suggest this provides a sense of dependability for those with little regularity or safety in their everyday lives; something supported by research linking music engagement and self-regulation.

In his US-based research, Dr Travis has shown that, despite negative associations, many who listen to hip hop find it a strong source of both self and community empowerment. More specifically, the benefits to individual mental health, in areas of coping, emotions, identity and personal growth, can help promote resilience in communities.


Mantra is a Melbourne-based hip hop artist who works extensively in schools and the community to empower youth.
Photo supplied by Michelle Grace Hunder

In Australian school settings, Dr Crooke has found hip hop to be a positive way for students of diverse backgrounds to engage with their wider community, learning tasks, and schools more generally. In a recent (yet to be published) study, he also explored the benefits of a short-term intensive hip hop and beat making program for young people labelled oppositional, seriously disengaged or at-risk of exclusion.


Participants in the RMIT Link Bust A Groove Dance Competition.
Photo supplied by Michelle Grace Hunder

Results showed students were not only highly engaged in learning through the program, but exhibited positive self-expression, built significant rapport with facilitators, and strengthened social connection amongst each other.

Expressing yourself

Hip hop emerged as a reaction to the gang culture and violence of the South Bronx in the 1970s, and daily experiences of poverty, racism, exclusion, crime, violence, and neglect. It necessarily embodies and values resilience, understanding, community and social justice.

Yet, the hip hop project is not yet free from these difficult circumstances. Many communities around the world still battle the effects of discrimination, segregation, and injustice. Hip hop is often a potent voice to these lived experiences. One of its original, primary strengths was that it allowed young, creative Black and Latino youth to create art that reflected the reality of their lives, of the neighbourhoods around them, and of the wider social circumstances in which they found themselves. In the words of US artists N.W.A. they were making the most out their basic human right to “Express Yourself.”

We may be several decades on, but there are plenty of young people that still need to do the same.

Hip hop is neither a panacea nor a cure all. It is not perfect, but its promise is undeniable. It is a culture with complicated social and historical roots. And it should not be appropriated without acknowledging, respecting and addressing these, because it is precisely these origins that make is so important. Its complicated history enables us to critically reflect on our society, and forces us to face issues of race, privilege, class, and cultural appropriation.

The ConversationGiven the urgency of our need for equity, justice, tolerance and critical civic engagement in today’s society, we need to challenge our preconceptions about hip hop culture. It is perhaps one of the most important and generous movements in our world today.

Alexander Crooke, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Music Therapy, University of Melbourne and Raphael Travis Jr., Associate Professor of Social Work, Texas State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

#03: Wanja Lange

In today’s episode I met with Wanja Lange, CEO of istillloveHER.de. She’s been a hip hop blogger for over ten years and she also runs a promotion agency and has her own merchandise. She has plenty to tell about how the business has changed and how being a woman in a mostly male dominated industry still sometimes effects her work. We also talk about women in Hip Hop in general and how Hip Hop saves lifes.

You find more information on Wanja on http://istillloveher.de and on almost every social media channel!

#03: Wanja Lange

by The Healer Hip Hop | Podcast

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#02: Tansy Davis

02: Tansy Davis

by The Healer Hip Hop | Podcast

Meet my friend and singer/ songwriter/ vocal coach Tansy Davis!

I asked Tansy about how she managed to turn her hobby into a career and how that has changed her life. We also talked about the beauty and the challenges of her life as a musician and how creativity ebbs and flows.
Also at the end of the interview I reveal a little secret I had kept to myself and very close friends…until now 🙂

Find out more about Tansy:

Tansy Davis Supersoul

Tansy Davis Supersoul Band

 

Like my work?

You can support my work if you become a Patron. It’s simple: choose one of 4 tiers and receive shoutouts, free The Healer Hip Hop Merch, behind the scenes access and more!