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Iann Dior and Maejor Join Black Music Action Coalition to School Students on Mental Wellness

today01/04/2024

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On a recent balmy December afternoon in Los Angeles, The Black Music Action Coalition (BMAC) sponsored a panel discussion on wellness for students at King/Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science. BMAC co-founder and chair Willie “Prophet” Stiggers was joined on the panel, titled Healing Through Music, with other music industry professionals who shared their wellness journeys.

The students at King/Drew are held to high standards and face a rigorous curriculum. They’re also teenagers who are navigating all that comes with this stage of growing up, including their fast-approaching post-high school lives. While this can be exciting, it can also bring up uncertainty and anxiety.

Moderated by entertainment attorney, activist and BMAC founding member Dina LaPolt of LaPolt Law, P.C., the panelists included LaPolt’s client artist and songwriter Iann Dior, wellness and mental health expert Rebecca Kordecki, and songwriter/producer Maejor. The panelists discussed their mental health struggles and how they learned to cope. LaPolt has long been a supporter of King/Drew High School and has been a mentor to several students.

“I want to talk to you about something that’s very important in today’s world, especially after the pandemic, which is wellness,” LaPolt shared in her opening remarks to students just before holiday break. “Emotional, physical, and mental wellness. Anxiety, all kinds of depressing disorders can happen… it’s a lot.”

Songwriter, producer and podcast host Maejor travels to underserved communities and teaches about breath work, wellness and the importance of “setting intention.” Maejor’s journey to wellness began when he was diagnosed with cancer. It was during this time that he was bombarded with info on healing, some of which he had a hard time taking seriously. His interest was piqued by what he was learning about the effects of sound on well-being, and he highlighted the chanting of monks as an example. He was inspired to use what he was learning from science, the spiritual community and the music industry.

For several minutes, Maejor filled the auditorium with one of his compositions that he described as utilizing the A444 frequency — the relaxation frequency.

Wellness and mental health expert Rebecca Kordecki has worked as a motivational speaker for over 20 years. It was during this journey to wellness, that she discovered the importance of breath work. “We breathe involuntarily,” Kordecki told students. “The beautiful thing about breath is that we can voluntarily manipulate the breath to do things for us. For instance, we can manipulate the breath to give us energy, we can manipulate it to calm us down, we can manipulate to put us to sleep at night. So, learning how to use the breath is a really powerful tool.”

She added, “Eight years ago, I discovered breath work and it changed the game for me. I was doing fitness training, working with celebrities and doing all these amazing things but from the outside in. Helping people get six pack abs, feel stronger, and make better movies and all those things, but they were still unhappy inside, I would notice. I thought, how can I get people to connect with their inside while working with them on the outside? That’s when I started to incorporate breath work into the work I do with clients so that they can connect to themselves.”

Kordecki lead everyone in a few breathing exercises, including “box breathing”, which she demonstrated as a four-count inhale, a four-count hold, and then a four count exhale. The technique is often used to help young children learn to regulate their emotions. It is also a great tool for handling anxiety.

Iann Dior, who was impressed the students got out of class to attend the event, was the most in his element, and related easily with the students. At only 24, Dior has already achieved multi-platinum status with “Mood,” his 2020 Hot 100 No. 1 with 24KGoldn.

“One way that I find myself, calming myself down before I go out on stage and everything, is just being by myself,” Ian shared. “I go into the room, and I chill and kind of talk to myself. I remind myself, ‘You’ve been through a lot. You’ve seen a lot of things that normal kids don’t have to see’ … and I remind myself that I’m thankful for all those bad times.”

“Anytime something bad happens, or something doesn’t go my way, I’m thankful for it,” he continued. “I talk to myself, and ask myself, why is this happening, because I need to overcome this and next time something happens again, I move past it.”

He invited the audience to share their stories of what is troubling them. A student near the front shared how it’s been a stressful week due to final exams, and how her academic performance affects her self-esteem. Another shared, through nervous giggles and tears, that she’d been fighting with her friends and learned that her boyfriend had been cheating on her.

Prophet acknowledged from the stage that everyone has experienced that pain and that everyone could relate.

Ian asked the audience to raise their hand if they had a goal or a dream for their life. He shared that at one point he was homeless while living in Puerto Rico. He shared that focusing on what would happen if he didn’t do something to achieve his dreams and advised setting realistic goals and working towards them.

LaPolt then gave the audience a parting task: “When you get home tonight, I want you to look into the mirror and give yourself a high-five and say you got this. That’s want we got to do. We’ve got to motivate each other, but the first thing you have to do is motivate yourself.”

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