Keita Faulkner credits music to creating a nonprofit that helps the youth and community.
Growing up in the South Bronx in New York City, Faulkner was embedded in music.
It wasn’t unusual for the Bronx native to see the likes of hip-hop heavy hitters like LL Cool J, KRS-One and Grandmaster Flash come back to the neighborhood and have block parties. Faulkner saw the successes that music could bring. She used those experiences to form Rooted from the Soul, a nonprofit organization she started about five years ago that uses music to uplift and enrich the lives of the youth and the community.
“If you walk down the streets all you hear is music. Spanish, Jamaican, R&B. Every summer, was exciting...Claremont Day, jams and block parties,” said Faulkner.
At the same time, she spent her summers and some holidays visiting family in Person County and was around family members who were musically gifted.
By the age of 21, she had moved to Person County to find peace away from the rough streets of New York.
“It was a rough time in New York and not to escape but to live there it is something else. But I just wanted a change,” said Faulkner.
When she lived in New York City, Faulkner had plans to work in music but when she moved to Person County, those plans got sidetracked.
However, seeing young people getting into trouble sparked a desire in her to see change by providing an outlet to help keep them off the streets.
“Everything around me growing up was music and block parties. I saw that as the outlet for a lot of people in my community, so I decided to do that,” said Faulkner.
She created a platform for young people to showcase their talents and express their creativity with talents shows like Diamonds in the Rough and Rooted from the Soul with hip-hop artist Roxanne Shante hosting.
This eventually led her to start her own nonprofit.
“I was like I have got to do something, there was so much talent that I was like Rooted from the Soul is what it is. I opened a studio and I had it so they were able to come in and record... That’s basically what it was, trying to get them off the streets and trying to save them with music because that is what I am used to. That was a way out,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner said she’s currently relocating the studio, but she’s unsure where she will open the new facility.
The organization uses music as a tool to help young people express themselves, educates them about the music business and provides life lessons.
At the same time, the organization encourages young people to get back to the roots of hip-hop, where they go into the community, teach and make music that is geared toward the community.
“Sometimes you just need to hear yourself. Not only that, somebody may need to hear you,” said Faulkner.
The organization’s next big project is the Stop the Violence event, which is scheduled for June at Huck Sansbury Recreational Complex. A specific date has not yet been set.
The event is expected to allow the community to see the issues surrounding crime from different perspectives including police officers, first responders, victims and family members of the victims and enlighten the community about the affects of violence and how the community can work toward healing.
“I wanted to it be community-based where we are all helping each other to try to succeed,” said Faulkner.
Faulkner models her work after hip-hop mogul and philanthropist Russell Simmons.
She is influenced by how he was able to build platforms for people in his community and give them a place to create and showcase their talents.
“That is what I want to do. I want to bring the authors out. Let’s all come together and make it happen,” said Faulkner.
Anyone interested in learning more about the organization or those who would like to participate in the Stop the Violence event, can email Faulkner at firstname.lastname@example.org.