NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — April is National Poetry Month and an up-and-coming hip hop artist from Carteret will give a free virtual talk on April 15 about his own struggles with mental health.
The rapper is CONY and the talk is recommended for teens and young adults ages 16+, according to Middlesex County, which is organizing the lecture. All are welcome to tune in: It is free and open to the public via livestream at https://tinyurl.com/TheyScreamCONY beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 15.
CONY is described as an "artist on the rise."
Born Marcony St. Juste, CONY currently lives in Carteret and is a graduate of Carteret High School. He fell in love with music at an early age, but said he was devastated by the untimely death of his grandmother.
CONY made the decision to seek mental health support from the Pathways School-Based Youth Service Program at Carteret High School.
Pathways staff encouraged CONY to start writing his thoughts in a journal, which launched his passion for poetry, spoken word and music. According to CONY, he found his strength through writing and performing and is now passionate about sharing that connection with other young people.
"Awareness of mental health issues and outreach for support don't always go hand in hand in the hip-hop scene," said CONY. "There is a lot of stigma surrounding access and the challenges we all face. In addition, essential resources are not always available to kids like me. Communities of color need access to these services, now more than ever, and we need to feel comfortable knowing that they are there for us."
"If it weren't for Pathways and for the arts, I wouldn't be where I am today," he said. "No matter where I go, mental health access is at the core of my story and remains a big part of my message. I am happy to be able to give back and share my journey with others who may need to hear it, especially right now."
CONY became a household name in 2014 when he released his famous remix of the song "WAVES" by Dutch artist Mr. Probz, which skyrocketed and soon landed CONY on major listening platforms including HOT97 radio station. In 2018, he signed a distribution deal with Equity Distro under the RocNation umbrella where he released his first major music compilation in 2019. He has been moving up the charts ever since and recently worked with Grammy-award-winning producer Zaytoven.
Watch here on April 15:
The talk will be broadcast via livestream from the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and will include additional guest performances by fellow Carteret natives and Pathways alumni including DJ Webb and dancer Gideon Abadilla. The evening will open with a poetry reading by Ameerah Shabazz-Bilal, who is a teacher in the Newark Public School system and author of the book "Breathing Through Concrete."
Germain Brito, an internationally acclaimed trumpet player, will also perform.
CONY is scheduled to move to Atlanta soon. But he said before leaving, he wants to give back to Middlesex County with a concert and discussion aimed specifically at those who may be struggling with social pressures and mental health challenges enhanced by the pandemic.
CONY's headlining performance will be followed by an inspirational discussion on poetry, music, and wellness with his mentor, Lauren Balkan, the program director of Pathways at Carteret High School.
"We believe that these resources should be available to all children and especially to those living with heightened environmental challenges tied to economics and other social pressures," said Balkan. "We are inspired daily by kids like CONY who are able to transform those challenges into strength and power."
"The pandemic has heightened the need for additional mental health resources across all communities and with school closings, many students are in a vulnerable position," said Lindsay Erben, director of the Arts Institute of Middlesex County. "This is especially true for those students who depended on their school's structure and environment as a safe space to meet their needs beyond academics."
They Scream CONY
Livestreamed event from the New Brunswick PAC
April 15, 2021 6 p.m.
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