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Activism Through Music and Art

Renee speaks with two Lexington men who are using the arts as a catalyst for social change and public good: rapper and slam poet Devine Carama; and social worker and community art advocate Josh Nadzam.
Season 12 Episode 7 Length 28:31 Premiere: 10/21/16

Community Building Through Music and Art

When the arts meet community activism, great things can happen. Just ask rapper Devine Carama and social worker Josh Nadzam. Carama is building on his music career to launch a number of local service projects, and Nadzam has developed a touring art studio that takes creative expression directly to children in underprivileged neighborhoods.

The two Lexington men appeared on KET’s Connections to share the passions that fuel their creativity and commitment to the community.

A Rapper With a Conscience
Devine Carama wrote his first rhyme in 1994 when he was 14 years old. That was back in the 1990s when rap and hip-hop music was finding mainstream and commercial success with artists like Tupac, Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z, and Common. But even as he enjoyed playing with raps and rhymes, his music was secondary to playing baseball. When he advanced to the minor leagues, Carama would even entertain his teammates with freestyle raps during their spring training practices.

But when an injury sidelined his baseball career, Carama wasn’t sure what to do with his life. He says he felt like a failure at sports, plus he was a single father to two daughters. So Carama decided to focus his full attention on music. And when he was saved in 2005, he found a new frame for his creative expression.

“I have no choice but to put God in my lyrics because that’s my life,” Carama says. “I come from an era where, whether it was negative or positive, you rapped about what you were living.”

Carama has produced 15 projects in the last decade. He explores a range of topics in his lyrics, from social issues to spirituality. In one rap, Carama says:

How can I lead this generation to God
If y’all think that I’m a fraud
Cause my life’s not perfect?

So I write with a purpose
and hopefully I get my life right
through these verses.

Carama says his music helped bring him to his community projects. A teacher at Lexington’s Bryan Station High School asked him to speak to a classroom of kids who liked his raps.  Through that experience, he says, “something was put on my heart.” Now the hip-hop artist leads coat collection drives, mentoring programs, tutoring initiatives, and even a campaign to send bottled water to the residents of Flint, Mich.

Instead of writing lyrics that sexualize women or glorify violence like some commercially successful hip-hop artists do, Carama says he says he wants to use his God-given talents in responsible ways that can benefit his community. He says he wishes more performers would do the same.

“Today I think you have a lot of artists that are rapping about what they think will sell,” Camara says. “In return they’re carpooling our kids to ruin. … They’re not even living this lifestyle, yet they’re perpetuating the negative images and these kids are following it.”

The Healing Power of Art
The On the Move Art Studio has been on the road throughout Fayette County for about a year now. The project is the brainchild of social worker Josh Nadzam, who dreamed of using art to empower at-risk kids, but he didn’t want transportation to be a barrier to participation.

So in 2014 he acquired a vintage Streamline trailer, raised $8,000 to renovate it, and created a mobile art studio that travels to schools and neighborhoods around Fayette County to offer free art classes to children.

“I grew up in a really bad neighborhood and sometimes what happens is people with good intentions can do things in a way that’s paternalistic; they think they know what’s best for people living in those situations,” Nadzam says. “We didn’t want to do anything like that.”

Although drawing and painting may not seem like a cure for poverty, Nadzam says positive creative expression is critical for at-risk kids. He says poverty can contribute to low self-esteem in children and he sees the classes as a valuable antidote.

“It’s just been incredible the way arts can give a safe space for kids to open up,” Nadzam says. “It’s hard to feel intimidating when you have paint and crayons and markers.”

The studio relies on a cadre of volunteers to work with the children and clean up afterwards. Nadzam says that as funding for the non-profit organization that operates the project grows, he wants to add paid staff and develop a fleet of On the Move studios to visit communities across the region.

“By going into neighborhoods, if we’re there for an hour or two hours, that’s two hours that the kids are not getting in trouble, they’re not getting into violence, they’re not seeing violence, and they’re not being offered drugs or any sort of negative influences,” he says.

Nadzam says he considers Devine Carama a friend and a mentor in community activism. The two partner on an annual summer music and arts festival that’s held at a Lexington housing complex for low-income senior citizens. Nadzam says he’s disappointed that poverty issues haven’t been a greater focus in this year’s political debates. But even without more support from politicians, Nadzam says there are many ways that anyone can help a neighbor in need.

“We can’t just see an issue and then become keyboard warriors and just go on rants on social media,” Nadzam says. “We have to get out in the communities and be the change that we want to see.”

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Host Dr. Wayne Tuckson in a dark shirt and gray jacket on the program set with a "Check Schedule" button.Host Dr. Wayne Tuckson in a dark shirt and gray jacket on the program set with a "Check Schedule" button.

Season 12 Episodes

Kinship Care Activist Katie Okumu

S12 E46 Length 26:27 Premiere Date 08/25/17

Photographer Carol Peachee

S12 E45 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 08/18/17

Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative

S12 E44 Length 28:28 Premiere Date 08/11/17

Sec. Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

S12 E43 Length 29:17 Premiere Date 08/04/17

Criminal Justice Reform

S12 E42 Length 28:08 Premiere Date 07/28/17

Kayla Rae Whitaker

S12 E41 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 07/14/17

Uncovering Bias in Preschool Education

S12 E40 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 07/07/17

The Latest Data on Kentucky's Kids

S12 E39 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 06/30/17

Building Leadership Skills

S12 E38 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 06/23/17

The Ali Center's Donald Lassere

S12 E37 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 06/16/17

Improving Nutrition in the Daily Diet

S12 E36 Length 27:06 Premiere Date 06/09/17

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E35 Length 28:19 Premiere Date 06/02/17

Innovation at the Alltech Conference

S12 E34 Length 28:33 Premiere Date 05/26/17

Political Journalist Cokie Roberts

S12 E33 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 05/22/17

2017 Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit

S12 E32 Length 28:03 Premiere Date 05/12/17

Alison Lundergan Grimes

S12 E31 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 05/09/17

Sexual Trauma in the Military

S12 E30 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 05/02/17

Foster Care

S12 E29 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 04/24/17

Justice Secretary John Tilley

S12 E23 Length 29:36 Premiere Date 04/14/17

Job Training in Kentucky

S12 E22 Length 29:31 Premiere Date 03/24/17

Kentucky Tourism

S12 E21 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 02/24/17

Reducing Youth Violence

S12 E20 Length 28:21 Premiere Date 02/17/17

State Treasurer Allison Ball

S12 E19 Length 28:51 Premiere Date 02/10/17

Poverty in America

S12 E18 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 02/03/17

Homelessness in Kentucky

S12 E17 Length 28:46 Premiere Date 01/27/17

Sadiqa Reynolds

S12 E16 Length 28:06 Premiere Date 01/20/17

Cory Jewell Jensen

S12 E15 Length 28:02 Premiere Date 01/13/17

Bill Goodman

S12 E14 Length 28:37 Premiere Date 01/06/17

Promoting Health Equity

S12 E13 Length 29:01 Premiere Date 12/16/16

Kentucky's Teacher of the Year

S12 E12 Length 27:22 Premiere Date 12/09/16

Important Issues for Seniors

S12 E11 Length 28:20 Premiere Date 11/18/16

Nonprofit Organizations

S12 E10 Length 28:22 Premiere Date 11/11/16

Iris Wilbur and Colmon Elridge

S12 E9 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 11/04/16

Alzheimer's Disease

S12 E8 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 10/28/16

Activism Through Music and Art

S12 E7 Length 28:31 Premiere Date 10/21/16

Paducah's Merryman House

S12 E6 Length 28:07 Premiere Date 10/14/16

The Achievement Gap

S12 E5 Length 28:01 Premiere Date 10/07/16

Discussing Domestic Violence

S12 E4 Length 28:32 Premiere Date 09/30/16

Musician Jon Secada

S12 E3 Length 29:13 Premiere Date 09/23/16

Playwright Mitzi Sinnott

S12 E2 Length 27:12 Premiere Date 09/15/16

FDA Chief Dr. Robert Califf

S12 E1 Length 26:26 Premiere Date 09/09/16

Smoking Cessation and Pregnancy

Preview Length 29:32 Premiere Date 09/08/17

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Premiered On: 04/06/2018

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Premiered On: 04/13/2018

Renee speaks with Donna Pollard, a child marriage survivor and founder of Survivors' Corner, who has become the ambassador for changing child marriage laws in Kentucky with the passage of Senate Bill 48 that was signed into law by Gov. Matt Bevin on March 29, 2018. SB 48 raises the legal age to marry to 18 in Kentucky with some exceptions.

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Kosair Charities Face It Movement; Terry Brooks

Premiered On: 04/20/2018

In part one, Renee speaks with Keith Inman with Kosair Charities and Dr. Jennifer Green, University of Louisville Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellow about Kosair Charities Face It Movement that provides resources for parents and caregivers on child abuse. In part two, Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, talks about legislation passed in the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly that benefits children and families.

  • Thursday January 5, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY
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  • Thursday January 5, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday January 5, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY

Dr. Donna Grigsby

Premiered On: 05/11/2018

Renee speaks with Lexington pediatrician Dr. Donna Grigsby about early childhood brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences on cognitive and physical health. Dr. Grigsby discusses how to develop literacy skills in young children.

  • Friday January 6, 2023 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 4:30 am CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Friday January 6, 2023 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Leadership - Marian Guinn and Lisa Williams; Colene Elridge - S12 E38

  • Wednesday December 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Patricia Peacock - S12 E30

  • Tuesday December 6, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Cory Jewell Jensen - S12 E18

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Restaurateur and Chef Ouita Michel - S16 E31

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David Thompson - S12 E11

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Mitzi Sinnott - S12 E3

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FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf - S12 E2

  • Wednesday November 30, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Phil Wilkins - S11 E43

  • Tuesday November 29, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Tameka Montgomery - S11 E42

  • Monday November 28, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dayna Seelig - S15 E12

  • Sunday December 4, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 27, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dominique Wilkins - S11 E41

  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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UK President Eli Capilouto - S18 E6

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:30 pm ET on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm CT on KET
  • Thursday November 24, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
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Gary Tuggle - S11 E40

  • Thursday November 24, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Leana Wen - S11 E39

  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 10:29 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 23, 2022 9:29 pm CT on KETKY
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Terrence Walton - S11 E38

  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 22, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack - S11 E37

  • Monday November 21, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 21, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
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Author Emily Bingham - S18 E11

  • Sunday November 27, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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Kimberly Johnson - S11 E36

  • Friday November 18, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Jason Merrick - S11 E35

  • Thursday November 17, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Fayette County Veterans Treatment Court - S11 E34

  • Wednesday November 16, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
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Dr. Lynne Saddler - S11 E33

  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 2:25 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Tuesday November 15, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
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Scott Hesseltine - S11 E32

  • Monday November 14, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 14, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Bill Goodman - Kentucky Humanities - S18 E10

  • Sunday November 20, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 20, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 19, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 13, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 5:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 13, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Jessie Laine Powell - S11 E31

  • Friday November 11, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Friday November 11, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Oral Health Care In Kentucky - S11 E30

  • Thursday November 10, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Thursday November 10, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Kishonna Gray - S11 E29

  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Wednesday November 9, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Gretchen Hunt - S11 E28

  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Tuesday November 8, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Dr. Erin Frazier - S11 E27

  • Monday November 7, 2022 10:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 9:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 2:00 pm ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 1:00 pm CT on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 5:30 am ET on KETKY
  • Monday November 7, 2022 4:30 am CT on KETKY

Restoring American Democracy - S18 E9

  • Friday November 25, 2022 11:00 pm ET on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm CT on KET2
  • Friday November 25, 2022 10:00 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Friday November 25, 2022 6:30 pm ET on KET
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  • Sunday November 13, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
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  • Saturday November 12, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
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  • Sunday November 6, 2022 6:00 pm ET on KET2
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  • Sunday November 6, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 12:00 pm ET on KET
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 11:00 am CT on KET

Breast Cancer - S18 E8

  • Sunday November 6, 2022 8:00 am ET on KETKY
  • Sunday November 6, 2022 7:00 am CT on KETKY
  • Saturday November 5, 2022 4:30 pm ET on KETKY
  • Saturday November 5, 2022 3:30 pm CT on KETKY
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