Microphone, music (168308)
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Post-prison support organization Getting Out and Staying Out and anti-gun-violence advocates Stand Against Violence East Harlem hosted their first ever hip-hop competition showcase Jan. 19.

The event is part of a program that encourages local young people working with the nonprofits—many of whom have spent time at Rikers Island or been otherwise involved with the criminal justice system—to explore music, spoken word and artistic expression as a means of empowerment alongside their efforts to achieve important educational and employment goals.

To prepare for the competition, participants attended a weekly workshop called BEATZ, which was led by Justin Harmond and Mari, a manager and a hip-hop artist who come from similar backgrounds and have looked to music as a source of joy and a way to overcome challenging situations.

Participants are also enrolled in job training courses, educational support programming and other services through GOSO.

The event will feature 15 contestants who will perform three-minute original pieces for a panel of celebrity judges. The competition will provide a chance for these young people to share their stories and experiences. The winner will be awarded the opportunity to record in a professional studio.