The lights lowered, a red spotlight came on and singer Naya Shea’s voice filled the room. The crowd’s energy was strong from the moment DJ Liv’s beat dropped and audience members raised their neon colored glow sticks as artists took to the front of the room to perform original songs.
On March 29, Hofstra University’s NAACP teamed up with clothing line GUUDREAMS, founded by Hofstra graduates Khaleik Akerson and Hal Caicedo, to host a benefit concert to raise money for Natasha’s Justice Project to test backlogged rape kits on Long Island.
Performers included Naya Shea, Jazz Graham, The Wave, TBM Collective, YTK, and others.
Around 40 people gathered together for a great cause and some great music by local artists, some of whom are current Hofstra students.
“I couldn’t do this good cause without the two u’s in guud,” said Blair Pryce, sophomore marketing major and Hofstra NAACP president about Akerson and Caicedo, who came back to help with the event. “We wanted to have everyone come in and create a family atmosphere and enjoy the music and raise money for this cause, because it is a really important one, especially on college campuses since rape culture can be hard to deal with.”
Natasha’s Justice Project is a local volunteer-run organization in West Sayville, NY that fights for survivors across the United States through public education, legislative efforts and advocacy.
"I was raped and robbed at gunpoint and it took nearly 15 years to find justice and closure in my case. The man that raped me is currently behind bars where he can no longer hurt another soul," said Natasha Alexenko, the founder of Natasha’s Justice Project.
“When I came forward with my story, I heard from so many survivors across the country,” said Alexenko. “There are so many of us out there who cannot share stories or choose not to. I want to be certain that all survivors are given the same opportunities I was if that is what they choose.”
The organization has helped create and support laws in 27 states across the country, which allow for the processing of sexual assault evidence kits in both stranger and acquaintance rape.
“We continue to grow and develop through the survivors we serve,” said Alexenko. “I try my hardest to advocate for survivors who do not have the means of support I was fortunate enough to receive.”
The guud in GUUDREAMS comes from “my grandmother who used to say good dreams instead of good night, so it just rung with me and we started to use that as a clothing brand, branched off into music, and now we’re just trying to bring a whole bunch of creators together,” said Akerson.
“When it first started off as a clothing line when we were sophomores, we marketed through local artists, and that is how we started to fuse clothing and music together and how our brand continues to be marketed,” said Caicedo.
Showcase headliner and Brooklyn native KOTA the Friend ended the night with a collection of his hits, including on-the-spot rap lyrics. As soon as he took the stage, the crowd’s energy doubled, even as the night was winding down.
Through concert ticket sales and donations, a total of $300 was raised. Hofstra’s NAACP is hoping to raise the rest of the $1,000 goal during its Art Fusion showcase.