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Save The Music and our partners at Successful, Inc got a chance to connect with Jameshia Attaway, a student in the Mississippi-Delta region, about the power of music in her community. Read on to learn more about how music affects the life of her, her peers, and her family, in the region of the United States that serves as the birthplace for Blues music in America.

How does music make you feel?

Music makes me feel different depending on my mood for that day. If I am at a wedding or some ceremony, I feel joy. If I wake up to soft, smooth music, I feel beautiful. If I sit quietly listening to music before going to sleep, I feel relaxed. When I hear gospel I want to praise. Yet, if I’m at a party, band competition, or game and the music starts, I feel pumped up. I have found my most depressing and horrific moments in life being restored by the sound of music, and I have always wanted people to feel what I feel when I hear music. My mom and I used to have a praise break every morning right before dropping me off at school when I was younger. I can remember getting out of the car spinning as I closed the door to her automobile. I felt joy then, and I think about it now. I’ve always believed that music brings out the best in people. Before the band, I had nothing and no one. I found a second family when I joined the band.

Music makes me feel renewed, accepted, and loved, overall.

What is your favorite part of music class?

My favorite part of music class is everything from the clanging of cymbals, the beating of drums, or the blowing of instruments. Hearing how a group of youth are able to come together for a common cause without any commotion is amazing to me. In music class it is just a group of like minded youth coming together to enjoy music. We create a sound that fills others with all kinds of feelings from drums, to instruments, and the movement of the axillary.

I love that we are able to hype people up and bring positive vibes to our peers. People have disagreements from time to time at my school but guess what; not in music class. We are one!

What is your favorite kind of music? Does it make you dance or sing?

I personally love many different types of music. I think my favorite would be hip-hop and rap from the 80s and 90s. That is one reason why I became a dancer. When I hear hip-hop I literally want to jump up out of my seat wherever I am and start dancing. It makes me get on chill and in my zone. 🙂

Do you think your life would’ve been different had you not had the opportunity to learn how to create music?

Yes, I know for a fact my life would have been different if I had never found music. Before dancing I played the trumpet. Due to an incident that affected my embouchure, I had to stop playing, which led me to dancing. After I started dancing I felt that that was my true calling and started full-time.

Shortly after becoming a dancer, I realized that funds were not budgeted to get us uniforms nor instruments. I started to identify different organizations that I felt could help and stumbled across Successful Inc. Unfortunately, they did not assist with purchasing uniforms. After receiving the email from Successful Inc., I asked for a call to discuss instruments and equipment for my peers, and guess what? Successful Inc. was able to get our band nine instruments and educational material averaging over $10,000!

I did not stop there. I wrote a grant to get additional supplies for the band and received $500 to support Gentry High School Band. I believe that blessings don’t have to always come in the form of materialistic things to you or something for you. I get my blessing from being a blessing. Sometimes I hear and feel music without actually hearing music if that makes sense. The feeling feels so good that I want everyone to experience that joy. Music saved my life and I will forever support students in the music industry because so many of us need saving.

What is your most joyful musical memory?

I have so many joyful moments! My most joyful musical memory would be standing in the Band Hall seeing all of my peers playing the new instruments donated by Successful Inc. all because I called inquiring about uniforms. The “NO” turned into a great conversation which led to Successful Inc. supplying over $10,000 worth of instruments and materials to students at my high school. That moment made me realize that success starts with one person taking a chance and blessings come in all forms. Who knows what those instruments did for my classmates.

Who inspired your musical journey outside of the classroom?

My mom always bragged about being the “baritone section leader” at Gentry High School. She spoke about how close she was with the band members and how involved they were in different activities. I wanted a dose of that life in high school, so I begged to come back to school in my hometown just to join the band. I have had the opportunity to experience the best of both worlds, as a trumpet player at St. Joe Catholic School and later as a dancer at Gentry High School. Lastly, Successful Inc. has been my motivation to continue in the music industry in some capacity. I want to continue to inspire youth to grow within the music world. The opportunities are so big and we (me and my peers) deserve to know the possibilities. I am fortunate for my mom who has always allowed me to try new things and never say my ideas are crazy because my craziness has inspired, motivated, and blessed so many people over the years.

Has music helped you through a challenging period in your life? How so?

Yes, music has helped me in several challenging situations in my life. In 2019, I went to a local fair and was attacked by a group of girls that I did not know. After the incident I had to have surgery and had to stay home from school for a few weeks. I lost interest in everything and became very depressed. I gained a lot of weight, I stayed in the house, and became upset often at myself. After coming back to Gentry High School I joined the band. From there life changed for the better because I found myself in music. I joined a band and became a dancer. I started interacting with people. I found a family that I didn’t have outside of my home. My days became longer, I became stronger, and with this, I became healthier and more fit. My grades improved tremendously. The best decision that I could have ever made was changing my high school and coming back to my hometown school and getting involved with music. I’m so grateful for music and for the people that were placed in my life after I really didn’t want to be a part of life anymore. Now, all I want to do is make sure other youth experience the beauty in the tune just as I have.

If you had the chance to speak to the folks who helped make your musical journey possible, what would you say to them?

If I had an opportunity to speak to the individuals that helped me with my music journey, I would say thank you for saving me and for the opportunity to be a service to others. The fact that you were able to make me feel complete, appreciated, and accepted means the world to me and I am forever grateful.

What do you wish people who haven’t gotten the chance to perform music knew?

I wish people more fully recognized that music brings out the best in people. You can have the worst day and it can just take that one song, one beat, or a single melody to bring your darkness to day. I can remember as a child, my mother humming to me or singing I Try by Mary Mary. These are the kind of important memories I have through music.

I am not Jameshia without music. Music completes me.

This interview was conducted in collaboration with our partners at Successful, Inc. Learn more about the partnership here.