Children First: Independence through music - KOTA Territory News

Children First: Independence through music


In one of the poorest counties in the nation, music is not just an avenue of expression, but now- a chance for a better  future.

"Kids not having parents, being homeless, not having anything to eat. I write about the truth and about being happy," said Kristen Hunter, a country singer/songwriter living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.
Hunter sings of struggles and triumphs not often heard on any commercial radio station.
"You get these kids on the reservation who have these different struggles. The music to them, was something they needed to help them be balanced and something they could seek refuge with," said Davidica Little Spotted Horse, recording artist and founder of Independence Through Music.
Amazed by the raw talent she found on Pine Ridge, Little Spotted Horse began the Independence Through Music program two years ago.
"I thought it was amazing these kids were giving me cd's, and teaching themselves guitar, making beats, lyrics, teaching themselves drums," said Little Spotted Horse.
With help from the local radio station and established artists acting as mentors, Hunter and others are learning how to make a living off their music.
"You have to create your own opportunity. Self management, promoting, performing. Getting them out there so they weren't just stuck in one place and not going anywhere," said Little Spotted Horse.
"We do play all the I.T.M. artists, all the local artists. There's a lot of great artists on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation just waiting to be heard," said Derrick Everett Janis, KILI Radio Production Manager. 
Taking what she's learned, Hunter now prepares to release her first single into the air waves over Pine Ridge.
"A lot of people around here don't have a lot to look forward to. There's teen pregnancy, drugs, the suicide rate is high. I just want to be a good role model and show people that sobriety has brought me success," said Hunter.

Since the start of the program two years ago, two reservation schools have started music programs.

Artists in the program right now span many genres, and include a R&B group, rappers, and even a blues guitarist.

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