“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
― Assata Shakur
Mederi Muzik is a partnership between DeMarisa Steeley, a healer, community organizer, and activist, and Dorian Wallace, a music therapist, composer, and activist. Based in New York City, we met at Rikers Island Correctional Facility, where we became acutely aware of the difficulties of connecting with underserved communities, especially youth, and how the system did not meet their needs. We identified a need to offer culturally relevant programming for the people we served, applying music as a technology to communicate with their deeper unconscious and mend unresolved trauma repressed within the psyche. Our programs treat transgenerational trauma and mental health issues, build coping skills and establish a sense of equilibrium in their daily lives. We offer non-invasive alternative therapeutic approaches to address more severe challenges in the individual and collective psyches and the community, applying evidence-based practices via a sociocultural context. We serve all underrepresented groups, including incarcerated people, targeted neighborhoods, vulnerable communities, and the socially and economically disadvantaged.
Cultural Practitioner, healer, fashion design
From Harlem, New York, DeMarisa Steeley is a devoted single mother of two, organizer, facilitator, and Keeper of How Our Lives Link Altogether! (H.O.L.L.A!), a nonprofit developed from the organizing work and political strategizing of people who served sentences in New York State Correctional Facilities. Formerly working at Rikers Island through the division of Fine and Performing Arts- DeMarisa uses music improvisation, rhythmic music playing, songwriting, and song analysis in the treatment process of short- and long-term trauma to service over 600 persons in custody a week. The focus of H.O.L.L.A.! is to co-create a youth-led organization centered on grassroots youth community organizing to support the leadership development, healing, and liberation of marginalized youth of color and their/our communities.
Dorian Wallace, MT-BC
Cultural Practitioner, music therapist
Dorian Wallace is a composer, music therapist, and U.S. Army veteran recognized for his commitment to sociopolitical struggles. He draws on his extensive musical experience and therapeutic expertise, covering a broad creative spectrum with the incarcerated community, including spoken word, hip-hop, and free improvisation. Dorian regularly collaborates with artists such as Bonita Oliver, John Sanborn, Paul Pinto, Pamela Z, Charlotte Mundy, Frank London, and Nicholas Finch. He has provided musical services for political figures such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jarvis Tyner, Angela Davis, Gerald Horne, Blade Nzimande, and Sing In Solidarity. Dorian received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Therapy from Montclair State University, where he studied with Drs. Brian Abrams and Michael Viega. He interned at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine and the M.J.H.S. Hospice and Palliative Care.