He sits on his bed with a pencil in hand, a piece of paper in front of him and headphones over his ears. He listens to the rhythm of the music, tuning out every other sound as thoughts race through his head. The pencil moves quickly across the notebook as he attempts to scribble down lyrics before they leave his mind. To others, it looks like random words dumped on paper, but to him, it’s the beginning of a new song.
Junior Keith “KJAY” Coleman displayed an interest in music from a young age. It wasn’t until the beginning of September 2019 that Coleman gained inspiration to begin writing and producing original music. After a month of writing and figuring out the musicality, he released his first song, “Falling,” on Halloween.
“I’ve been reciting and memorizing lyrics since I was introduced to Michael Jackson by my mom,” Coleman said. “My favorite part would be producing and getting the opportunity to make art.”
Since his first track, Coleman has released three other songs and an EP. Although Coleman’s music doesn’t have a specific genre, his music and character are inspired by influential figures like Kanye West and Martin Luther King Jr.
“For me, my music can’t be marginalized or boxed so I would say my music is every genre because my goal is to touch every type of person,” Coleman said. “I want to impact a new generation and get people through things.”
Maintaining a genuine personality is an important aspect of Coleman’s career. Long-time friend junior Malachi Poynor has watched his passion for music along with his willingness to help others.
“Keith is an introvert so he doesn’t really talk to people but he’s very friendly and giving,” Poynor said. “A lot of people mistake his kindness for weakness.”
Coleman’s ultimate goal is to spread a positive message to his fans. He aspires to teach people about selflessness and helping others. Although some have criticized him for the lack of profanity in his music, which is a common trait in mainstream music, Coleman refuses to release music that doesn’t accurately depict him.
“My music is about obtaining self-esteem and being fearless,” Coleman said. “We have to bring each other up instead of tearing each other down. We have to help each other. I also don’t smoke or drink at all and I am pursuing my dreams. You don’t need all of that in your life.”
Coleman’s friends admire his dedication to music and they recognize his potential. Coleman constantly looks to his friends for critical advice to improve his music.
“I hope to see him be successful,” Poynor said. “I hope to see him go wherever he wants to go in life because [music] is clearly something he wants to do in life [and] is passionate about.”
Coleman’s mother, Laila Smith, has encouraged Coleman to continue pursuing his musical career. Smith is proud of the message her son spreads and the role model he is to those around him, including his two younger sisters.
“I think people should know that he is coming from a good place and his goal is to encourage his peers to go for what they dream of and try things out,” Smith said. “He loves to inspire others through his creativity.”
On Wednesday, Jan. 1, Coleman released his debut EP which includes nine songs. He worked tirelessly to perfect every track. Although he is new to writing and producing his own music, he views every day as an opportunity to learn and influence his fans. Music has greatly impacted his life and he hopes to pass that onto others.
“I want to pursue music as a career and go to college to master the principles of music,” Coleman said. “Music to me is the gateway to the soul and has a big influence on me and many others. I want my music to change the way music is perceived and projected to others, and hopefully help end racism.”
This story was originally published on Farmers’ Harvest on January 8, 2020.