In Starlight’s most recent Raise Our Voices performance, rapper Ayel created an original song to premiere, “Stand the Rain.” Inspired by this season’s theme, “Celebrating Me,” Ayel chose his words very intentionally with thoughtful intent on sharing this moment with others who have similar experiences as him.
“Ayel’s words are a testament that though black people and other people of color may experience trauma in our lifetime, having moments where we can celebrate our resilience, our wins and successes despite the odds against us, is so powerful. It is important for our healing, important to see, experience, and share with others,” Courtney Germany, Ayel’s Artistic Advisor, said.
Courtney was first featured in season one of Raise Our Voices and performed the series’ first dance piece. When she returned as an advisor for season two, she worked with Ayel to elevate his original talent and artistic expression. She describes his rap style as intellectual and intuitive, and that it takes a high skill level to execute.
“[My performance] demonstrates resilience, through my craft and the words I put together,” Ayel said. “It encourages people who experience similar situations [to] not allow their environment to hinder success.”
Ayel views his music and brand as community service. As he grows with his passion, he wants to implement the lessons learned back into the community. He plans to release a new EP in April 2022 alongside new merchandise. Ultimately, he wants to continue giving his family and his hometown of Kansas City, KS, something to be proud of as he grows in his music career.
“I want people to realize that, even when oppression is playing a big role, our potential is simply greater,” Ayel said, “The truth is in the success stories of our elders, as well as some of my peers, and those to come after.”
Courtney encourages all young artists and activists to come together and continue to tell their stories like Ayel, no matter how unconventional.
“The arts evoke change,” Courtney said. “As a society we could use a lot more compassion, representation, and new, fresh ways of dealing with age-old social issues and injustices.” She’s proud of Ayel and how he tackled this project, and hopes that audiences recognize his skill, easy nature and powerful humility in hopes that others decide to follow his journey.
“The endearing influence he has in our community speaks volumes about his character. As he grows to touch different stages around the world with his influence, you should all know that he is KC’s own.”
Thank you, Ayel, for sharing your talent with us. We can’t wait to see what the future holds!