ANDERSON – Christian hip-hop artist Swoope never had any trouble with the law, but as he brought a message of dignity, hope and worth to young people in the Madison County juvenile probation program , he felt a connection.
Although he does not know the young people personally, the Grammy-winning artist said he had an intimate understanding of their backgrounds and the challenges they faced that put them under court surveillance. .
âI know them. I went to school with them,â he said. âThe connectivity of being open and authentic with them made them feel like I knew where they were coming from.â
His last name in bright lights on stage, Lawrence Allen Swoope II also brought his message, interspersed with Bible verses, and a mini-concert of four of his most popular songs to an audience of around 100 young people on Friday night at Madison Park Church of God. The program was sponsored by various organizations, including the Madison County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative.
Although he is from Akron, Ohio, Swoope has a personal connection to Anderson, coming to town every summer until he was 15 with his mother, the late Diana Lynn Swoope, pastor of the Church. of Dieu-Anderson.
Louis Jackson IV joined co-moderators Monica Watkins, digital content producer for 14 News in Evansville, and Ryan Mason, AHS graduate, on a panel that interviewed Swoope on a variety of topics, including creativity and l inspiration, mental health and family life.
Although his interests span a wide range of musical genres, Jackson, 15, admitted he didn’t know Swoope until a week ago, when asked to serve as a moderator.
âWhen I found out I was going to do it I didn’t want to, but I realized most people couldn’t have this opportunity,â said second student at Anderson High School. It was the first time he had met a celebrity.
Ultimately, Jackson said being on the panel was valuable because Swoope gave him insight into the leadership and often unrealistic expectations young people face due to media and peer pressure.
âHe brought out a lot of things just by showing patience. What he kept saying was, âI am enough. “
Veronica Watkins, a longtime friend of Swoope’s when she lived in her hometown, said it was her work through her organization Sista’s of Royalty with the girls at the detention center that had instigated her on him. ask to come back to Anderson.
âThere was one girl in particular, a very talented girl that I mentored. She can sing; she knows how to rap; she can dance, but her background prevented her from seeing the possibilities.
Madison County 2 Circuit Court Judge Stephen Koester, who was in the hearing Friday night with his family, oversees the juvenile probation program which administers the county’s alternatives to detention program.
“I think any time someone of national renown can come here to support the children, I think it’s important.”
To follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter at @RebeccaB_THB, or call 765-640-4883.