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Supporter Spotlight: Debra Samuel

We are fortunate to have such amazing supporters in our MusicianShip Family, who are just as passionate about making a difference in the lives of youth as we are.

Today, we’re highlighting one of our superstar supporters, Debra Samuel. Her exercise sessions started off as a fun way to get fit with a group of friends, while jamming to their favorite tunes, but it wasn’t long after that her idea would turn into a mission to make a difference in her community.

Header - Supporter Spotlight: Debra Samuel

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but spent most of my teenage and adult life in the DMV area. After graduating from Howard University in 2015, I chose to stay in the area, and pursue my career in the health and wellness industry. I am currently the general manager of MINT Gym in DC. I’m proud to announce that we’ve opened a third location, and I am now managing two of the three.

Q: Tell us a bit about Trap Spin For Charity.

Trap Spin for Charity was an accident. In February of 2017, I woke up one morning and decided that I wanted to host an exercise session with a group of friends. I figured I’d compose a playlist of songs I prefer working out to, which just so happen to be “trap tunes.” Music can make or break a workout, and we all need something motivational to get us to the finish line. The idea was somewhat last minute, so I assumed it would be a smaller group of only 10-15 people. I was highly mistaken. The first “Trap Spin” session had about 20-25 attendees and, needless to say, I was beside myself.

After the class ended, we took a group picture to capture the moment. I got plenty of sweaty hugs, exhausted thank you’s, and unexpected compliments. There was one question I wasn’t prepared for, ”So Deb, when’s the next one?” I’ll admit, I laughed that question off for a few months. In the fall of 2017, after a few serious conversations, I realized that this could be an idea that would grow much larger than my original hopes for it. After a few late nights and early mornings spent working on my mission, Trap Spin For Charity was born. The mission itself is a simple one: host a class that is not only entertaining, but provides a holistic approach to overall health, wellness, and healing for many—all while supporting charities in our communities.

Q: Tell us how you first heard or got involved with The MusicianShip.

I heard about The MusicianShip around the time of its inception actually. Jeff, the founder, was an upperclassman in Howard University’s band program when I was a freshman. One of many aspects I appreciate about this organization, in particular, is how intertwined the mentors are with the gratifying rigor, creativity, and self-confidence that participating in music provides.

Q: Tell us why you decided to incorporate a fundraiser for The MusicianShip into your spin classes? How did the idea emerge?

As a member of Tau Beta Sigma National Honorary Band Sorority Incorporated, I knew one of my classes would be dedicated to musicianship and music appreciation.  The timing was perfect. The class took place on March 25th, and my sorority’s Founders Day was March 26th. I figured it would be a nice way to celebrate the mission of both organizations!

Q: How much were you able to raise? Did you set a fundraising goal?

So far, I’ve raised $750 total–$260 for The MusicianShip. I set a goal to raise “1k by May”, and I am definitely on pace to meet, and/or exceed that goal.

Update: We’re happy announced that she reached her overall goal in May!

Q: Why do you support music education? More specifically, why do you support The MusicianShip?

It’s unfortunate that music education is undervalued in the public school curriculum. Even on a collegiate level, music and the arts are often underfunded and lack the proper resources to build a successful program. This is one of many reasons why organizations such as The MusicianShip need and deserve our unwavering support.

Q: What would you tell someone who is considering donating to The MusicianShip?

There’s tangible evidence of a positive correlation between involvement in musical programming and overall cognitive development. The MusicianShip’s target audiences are at-risk youth and those who desperately need a more positive path to travel. It is important to give these young people options—other forms of expression if you will. In a society riddled with hardship, The MusicianShip provides hope.

Q: How has music education or arts education affected you personally as a child, adult, or both?

Music has been a part of my life since I was in my mother’s womb. She told me stories about my brothers placing headphones on her stomach so I could kick her ribs to the tunes of Bob Marley. I grew to appreciate music education after becoming a member of Watkins Mill High School’s marching band, and eventually Howard’s SHOWTIME marching band. Performing with my peers became a cathartic experience. Band practice evolved from being an obligatory task to a therapeutic experience. After losing my mother to cancer in the summer of 2010, band and music quite literally saved my life. My mental and physical health were interwoven into what I once thought was just a hobby.

Q: Why do you think music and arts education should be a priority for philanthropists?

After being a witness to, and participant in my mother’s battle with cancer, I developed a holistic approach to overall healing. Our nation is just as highly medicated as it is capitalistic. Being that these capitalistic organizations’ target audience is at-risk inner-city youth, these children are likely all healing from something. They each have their own story to tell. Rather than prescribing them with medicine that we can’t pronounce, or neglecting their most fundamental human needs due to socio-economic status, we should be intentional in providing them with an opportunity to actualize into the best version of themselves they can be. The lessons learned from music education are both permanent and invaluable.

Q: What do you wish people knew about The MusicianShip?

What I want people to know about The MusicianShip is what I wish they would ultimately realize about all music and the arts: They are a necessity, not an option.