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Building Bridges: Amillion the Poet hopes to heal through music

Dover hip-hiop artist Amillion The Poet just released a six-track music project called “COVID-1NA (The Cure)” (Submitted photo/Saquan Stimson Cunningham)

DOVER — In Amillion Mayfield’s mind, there are two pandemics going on.

There’s the global health pandemic, which has claimed more than 130,000 lives in the United States alone but there’s also the pandemic of civil unrest.

That became clear to Mr. Mayfield, aka Amillion the Poet, the Dover hip-hop artist who has performed throughout 10 countries and music festivals such as the Essence Festival in New Orleans and Firefly in Dover.

During this downtime in which international and national tours were canceled, he put together a music project, which dealt with the effects of the coronavirus on people. Suddenly, the death of George Floyd sparked a new movement of social justice.

“It started to evolve because this other pandemic, within social justice and everything became very prevalent near the end of the project. So I got to cover both pandemics,” Mr. Mayfield said.

The result is new album “COVID-1NA (The Cure)” available on all streaming platforms.

‘This is definitely the most healing project I’ve done. All my projects are personal but I think this one was the most healing because I had to literally rap my way out this situation. People got to see the good, the bad, the happy. I just kept putting it down. You can go back to this years from now and remember that this is something that’s going to stick with people, forever,” said the former social worker and executive director of his own youth organization the 1NA Movement.

“So I just wanted to have a frequency to be able to help within that, When I initially did the project, yes, my tours were canceled. But I found I was more inspired to heal because I had to redirect my energy. I was suffering from a loss and everything but I was just, thinking ‘What can I do? What can I do to help first? And then I think by helping I’d be able to help myself?”

Amillion the Poet recently performed via livetream to 10,000 high school students in New Orleans. (Submitted photo/Saquan Stimson Cunningham)

For the “Covid 1NA” project, he enlisted the help of such artists as Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Stacy Barthe, who has worked with Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry and Rihanna; London pop artist Lottz; R&B singer J’ne Indigo; and rapper Brizz Rawsteen.

Mr. Mayfield said he’s been working “behind the scenes” to smooth relations between the Dover citizenry and the police department and “get them to actually have a dialogue.”

He has also been working with students at his alma mater Caesar Rodney High School, who have recently protested about feelings of inequity and a lack of diversity.

“I was working on things with Caesar Rodney, with their student government union, to have more of an impact. They felt like their voices weren’t being heard. And I have a great relationship with the principal (Dr. Sherry Kijowski). I just knew it was about kind of connecting. Because I knew she had a pure heart and I knew they were coming from a pure place, so why not be the person that could bring them together, as opposed to bringing the drama,” he said.

Along with having tours to Canada, the United Kingdom and Africa canceled as well as festivals and shows in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Texas put on hold, closer to home, this was to be the first year for a summer camp for his Poetry in Motion workshop.

For the past nine years, the Dover Public Library has hosted a two-week workshop where Mr. Mayfield invites youth to use their words instead of actions to express themselves through poetry.

“My first summer camp was supposed to be with over 250 youth,” he said.

“I was sick that that had to be canceled. That was almost worse than the tours being canceled. But I’m working with the library to see if we can do something virtual.”

Amillion the Poet receives hand sanitizer from Painting Stave’s Mike Rasmussen. (Submitted photo/Saquan Stimson/Cunningham)

He extended his reach with youth earlier this summer when he did a livestream performance for 10,000 high school students in New Orleans as part of their virtual prom.

“They are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina so it was nice to be able to do that. We did that in Jam 24/7 studio (in Wilmington. To be able do that in this time of corona was excellent,” he said.

He also partnered with Painted Stave Distilling in Smyrna to distribute their hand sanitizer throughout the Dover community

The effects of COVID-19 got very personal for Mr. Mayfield when he lost his uncle to the virus last week. He performed at Joseph Mayfield’s funeral in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

“I couldn’t imagine this project being out and then it hits home like that. So, like I say, I don’t even have to go far to see that it has affected me,” he said.

For information on the six-track music project and more, visit AmillonthePoet.com.