Despite the negative image Flint, Michigan, has endured amid the water crisis, it is undeniable that hope still does reign in the city. One of those shining lights comes in the form of the passion and advocacy that birthed the domestic and sexual violence awareness concert “I Found My Voice.” The event was held on the campus of the University of Michigan-Flint, on Sunday, Nov. 20, and featured a variety of artists, many of whom have roots in Flint. Some of these artists included Antwaun Stanley, Blue Eyes, Mama Sol, and more. The founder, producer, and host of the show, Cherisse Bradley, spoke to rolling out about her passion and vision for the event.
How long have you been doing this event?
This is my fourth year.
What gave you the vision for “I Found My Voice”?
Well I’m a survivor, and it all started when I was very young, so I always kind of tell people the vision really started then, but I didn’t know it. I’m also an artist. I always wanted to be able to use the art in this type of platform for social change … because the healing journey for me was being able to heal enough to express my true and authentic self, which is my art.
What made you decide to reach out to the Flint community?
Flint is originally where I’m from and I wanted to be able to give the community something they’ve never seen before. I had a lot of people support me when I told them about my vision and they encouraged me to go ahead and bring it to life. I just wanted to be able to do something for my hometown. This is where it all started.
What made you reach out to the artists you chose for this event?
Every artist I chose was carefully handpicked based on what they represent as artists. They already have a whole catalog of music that is rooted in social advocacy, that is rooted in change, that is rooted in uplifting the human condition. They are seasoned, they are professional, and they are gifted in being able to get that type of message across.
What message do you hope people will take away from this event?
The first thing I want [to do] is smash the illusion as to what people may think being abused is like. I want to take people into the mind of the person that has actually been violated. It’s a very painful thing … people turn their cheek to because they don’t want to have to face it. I want to wake people up to become aware of their surroundings, and then, I want people to know there is healing.
Rolling out was also able to catch up with artist and activist, Mama Sol, to learn more a bit more about the event.
What does I “Found My Voice” mean to you?
I Found My Voice means a ton to me because, one, Cherisse is a friend of mine that I love very much. I’ve been a part of this event since its inception, and every year I see her happier, her smile gets bigger and her voice gets louder. The people involved really have a deep appreciation for her voice and for being a voice for people who have been through the experiences she’s had to endure. I’m here to celebrate her today, and that’s what I’m focused on.