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Just Speak

By Steve Furay
Special to the Michigan Citizen

Developing the power of your voice after a personal trauma is essential to the healing process, and singers, poets and rap artists can be a great inspiration to many people. On Nov. 30, a special evening of music, poetry and art celebrated of the 10-year anniversary of Just Speak, a non-profit organization designed to help child victims of abuse find their voice and heal from their experiences.

The event was held in the D. Blair Theater inside the Cass Corridor Commons, presented by 5e Gallery. Host and singer Monica Blaire brought the lineup of Detroit artists on stage for their performances, first asking them to tell the audience how they discovered their own voice.

“Honestly, I think I’m still finding it,” said Insite the Riot, an emcee who performed with cellist Cecilia Sharpe, founder of the Urban Stringz Youth Orchestra. “But I would say what I know to be true to this point would definitely be from overcoming adversities, it would be through music, hip hop, through this microphone.  And it would be through seeing challenges as opportunities and having some bumps and bruises along the way.”

“My mom, who is here,” said Nique LoveRhodes. “When I was a young kid, she gave me a notebook. I was an only child so I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to talk to, and so she gave me a notebook, and she told me anything that I feel write it down, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

Hip hop has proven to be a way for some people to find a voice of expression, and the stage at the Just Speak event held some of the city’s top rap artists, many of whom were women. Nique LoveRhodes, Insite the Riot and D.S.Sense all performed songs crafted as inspirational for listeners, their songs an expression of art as a social tool for healing.

Miz Korona also represented female rap artists as one of the pioneers of contemporary Detroit hip hop, performing two new songs from her upcoming album.

“I have musical history in my family, my dad was in the Floaters, so he tried to get me to be a singer,” said Miz Korona about finding her voice. “Eventually, as I got older I realized I could not really hold a good note, so I started writing poetry and turned my poetry into lyrics. And my mom eventually got me a record player at the age of 10, and my first record was Run DMC, after that I just fell in love with hip hop and I’ve been doing it ever since.»

Just Speak founder Brittni Kellom thanked the audience for their support and encouraged people to help support the victims of abuse within the communities as well as their own families. As a survivor of sexual and emotional abuse, Kellom created Just Speak as a way to empower others to grow beyond their victimization through the power of the word.

For more information about Just Speak, visit


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