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How SaulPaul is using his music to inspire and empower young people


Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.

Amna Nawaz: After serving prison time for forgery, credit card abuse and burglary, turned to music to change the direction of his life and help young people avoid his path.

The three-time Grammy nominated performer calls himself the musician with a message.

Our Student Reporting Labs team caught up with them during their winter academy in Austin, Texas, for arts and culture series, Canvas.

SaulPaul , Founder, The SaulPaul Foundation: If young me saw me now, young me would be very, very proud. He would have his mind blown.

I grew up in the ghetto. As a young adult of 20 years old, I was sent to prison. But, as I sat in prison, I realized that it was not because my mom died when I was 3. I wasn't in prison because my dad left. I wasn't in prison because I was Black. I wasn't in prison because of poverty.

I was in prison because of my choices. But then that is what empowered me. I was like, wait, if I'm in prison because of my choices, through my choices, I could also dictate my success.

Prison is terrible, definitely punishment, not rehabilitation. So prison to me was rock bottom, and it inspired me to become who I am now.

My name comes from this guy in the Bible, Apostle Paul. Before his name was Paul, his name was Saul. When his name was Saul, he wasn't the best person, and then he had a life transformation, and I could relate to that, because it represented my entire experience.

I choose to be the change, because someone chose to be the change in my life, and that was my grandmother, this amazing woman named Pearly (ph). She adopted me, and she raised me as her own. She's no longer here, but I'm her legacy, and she's my why.

When I create music, I like to create movement. My first movement was called Tower to Tower, and it was how I transitioned and went from prison incarceration to college graduation. I was like, hey, this isn't working. Everybody just says, I'm great. But I need people to recognize that they're great.

I came up with another project, and that was Be the Change. And I was like, OK, I think this is big enough that everybody can be part of it, yet it's unique to every individual.

Melissa, what's one way you can give back, be kind or be the change?

Last fall, when I went on the Be the Change Tour, I visited 100 schools in 100 cities in 32 states, and saw 125,000 students. They have done sports clinics. We have had seniors, mentors, and tutor elementary school students.

This is another group of young people. They basically wrote notes of encouragement to victims of the wildfire in Hawaii. I think one reason I'm able to connect with young people is because I speak to young people the way that I wish someone would have spoke to me.

When you give back, not only do you get the benefit of helping others. It's like, it just works.

I'm SaulPaul , the musician with the message. I entertain, I inspire, I empower, I equip others to recognize they're born on purpose, with a purpose, and to be the change in their neighborhoods, their communities, in their cities, and on this planet.


Amna Nawaz: Choosing to be the change, what a great message.

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