While working at New York City's Rikers Island Correctional Facility, we became acutely aware of the obstacles in providing proper mental health treatments to marginalized communities, particularly young people, and how our criminal legal system continually fails to meet people's needs. Due to the neglect and exploitation, many people distrust mental health healthcare professionals for legitimate reasons. We identified a need to provide culturally relevant programming for the people we served, designing the curriculum from the ground up and utilizing music as a means for helping people engage their inner unconscious and address unresolved trauma enmeshed inside the body.
We offer educational programming addressing transgenerational trauma and music-based coping methods to provide a sense of equilibrium in their everyday lives. We offer a non-invasive allied health approach to community music and mental and spiritual health, applying evidence-based methods through a sociocultural analysis to tackle challenges facing the individual and collective psyches. Through a liberation psychology-informed therapeutic music theory, this type of thinking identify and nurtures creative musicality through the community. A healthy musicality in a society nurtures a healthier community and a better understanding of one's inner experiences and reactions to external stimuli.
We have presented our Liberation Music Therapy at Columbia Univerity Center for Justice Beyond the Bars Initiative annual conference, the Trauma Research Foundation Social Justice Summit, and the Midatlantic Region - American Music Therapy Association Annual Conference, as well as maintain a podcast to get information out. We serve all underrepresented groups, including incarcerated people, targeted neighborhoods, vulnerable communities, and the socially and economically disadvantaged, as well as teachers, students, mental health professionals, and social activists.
Mederi Muzik is a partnership between DeMarisa Steeley and Dorian Wallace.
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.