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The founder of the entertainment and media company New Day Music Group, Tyrik “Keyz” Washington, won gold at the 57th annual New York Emmy Awards gala Sunday, March 30. The Brooklyn native was the first producer to be nominated for and win a Craft Specialty Emmy for CUNY-TV, but Washington has been honing his craft for as long as he can remember.
“I was always the cute chubby kid making beats,” said Washington. “And it may sound cliche, but music saved my life.” Coming from a very musically inclined family, Washington explains that he always knew he would pursue this type of career. Looking back, he feels it was a blessing that music was taken so seriously by him and his family.
“[Music] definitely steered me away from various elements that could have been so destructive in my life,” said Washington. “If I didn’t have that beat machine, who knows where my course would’ve been.” He explains that in a lot of situations, there are two options: You can either go left or you can go right. But Washington feels that in a lot of our Black communities, individuals don’t have that choice.
“If left is negative and that’s the only option [someone] sees in their surroundings, then that’s where they’re going to go,” he said. “But with me, I had another option, and it was music. Instead of chilling on the block with my friends, I thought, ‘Let’s take my friends upstairs and make beats.’”
Washington credits a lot of his early development as a musician to his work at Julliard and believes that even if a person has talent, his or her skills must be nurtured and developed.
“That’s why it’s so sad to see New York City, where Black people barely have music classes,” said Washington. “Especially with us, because Black and Brown people are very expressive; we need to have some type of outlet. Whether it’s the arts, music, dance or various different channels.” He believes that without the opportunity for self-expression, the communities are being hindered and people are going to act out.
Washington recognizes that every inner city has negatives, but said, “If you have an undeveloped community, where there’s no youth centers, no music and art classes in the local and public schools in the area, what did you expect?”
In his television series, “The Common Ground,” which is currently under development, Washington recognizes the influence and power that the arts can hold over individuals and communities. According to the New Day Music Group website, the weekly television series will focus on current and past art, music and film and their impact on politics and society.
“The television show will be hosted by one of my dear good friends, Tim Rouse, who is a musician and a great pianist in his own right,” said Washington. “And in my opinion, there are not a lot of bridges, and I don’t like this word ‘underground,’ but there are not a lot of bridges for artists.”