An inspirational singer-songwriter, entrepreneur and first generation American (daughter of Trinidadian parents) with a goal to reach the world through music and a mission to help the overlooked and underserved, Kamica King, of Dallas (75206),is pursuing her master’s in Music Therapy from Texas Woman’s University with a 4.0 GPA and plans to graduate in December 2017. She is receiving one of four prestigious scholarships given by Texas Woman’s University at the 15th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, presented by Bank of Texas, Texas Woman’s University, and the Texas Woman’s University Foundation, March 8, at noon, at The Belo Mansion and Pavilion.
“I’ve always been interested in the arts, and my parents say I’ve been singing since the age of 2,” stated Kamica King. “At the same time, I developed a love for helping others and a heart for service. Music therapy gives me the opportunity to work with many populations while utilizing music to address therapeutic needs and individualized goals – whether social, cognitive, physical or emotional.”
King is a board certified music therapist and the founder and CEO of King Creative Arts Expressions, a music therapy and performing arts company. Her passion for helping others through music first developed while in high school in her hometown of Stamford, Connecticut. She met a young lady with special needs including visual impairment. The young lady loved to read and was a good student, and their interaction spurred King’s interest in special education. Ultimately, King chose to study music but also minored in psychology to understand cognitive function.
“My goal at that time was to find a way to use music as a learning tool for special needs kids,” added King. “The same way we learn our ABCs in song, I felt like there were other academic concepts that could be embedded in music. During college, people would ask me if I had ever heard of music therapy, but I never thought much about it until after I graduated.”
In the spring semester of her senior year of at Western Connecticut State University, she participated in a leadership program and created the Western Connection Incorporation Project – a social and leadership programming series that provided Western Connection students (students, ages 18-21 with special needs such as ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Autism) opportunities to more fully experience the offerings of WCSU and interact with same-age peers who were fully matriculated into the university. These students audited courses, had campus jobs, student mentors and social skills groups.
“I could see that these students were not branching out much beyond the office and the classroom,” added King. “When organizers of the women’s history month coffeehouse event were looking for more students to perform, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to add an evening outing to the Incorporation series. I remembered that there was musical talent amidst the Western Connection group, so I auditioned and coached a few students to perform. The night of the coffeehouse show was the first time that I had seen how equalizing the arts were when it came to promoting inclusion for people with special needs. The stigma was erased – they weren’t known by their “disability” that night but rather by their talent. One male student with ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome sang a Beatles song so well that there was an encore, and he had not one involuntary movement (tic) while singing. Another young lady with mental health needs was a published poet with such eloquent words – words you may not have connected with her from her shy exterior. There was a transformative and connective power on display that night through the arts, and I knew that I wanted to recreate moments like that as a career."
King experienced some obstacles along her education path that actually ended up being for her benefit. While she wasn’t accepted into the WCSU music program when first auditioning, she did get into the university, and the music department encouraged her to audition again the following year. This path gave her many new opportunities.
“It was actually a blessing in disguise,” added King. “Having that undeclared year afforded me the opportunity to apply for and be accepted to the honors program, receive a merit scholarship based on academics, add two minors to my degree program, and be very involved on campus.
I also took a few intro-level music skills courses and private voice lessons for a semester, which got me into the music program the second time around. ”
King graduated Magna Cum Laude from WCSU with a bachelor’s in music (concentration voice) and double minors in communications and psychology with a university scholar designation. She is a 2013 alumna of Southern Methodist University Music Therapy Equivalency Program and has received numerous scholarships and awards in music therapy for academics and songwriting from regional and national organizations alike, including the National Federation of Music Clubs and the Southwestern and Western Regions of the American Music Therapy Association. Her professional paper for her master’s from TWU focuses on the identification and analysis of widely used songs in music therapy across psychosocial and physiological needs areas, as well as client populations. With that, King seeks to identify common themes with regards to what gives these widely used songs universal appeal and fosters therapeutic impact in the music therapy setting. Additionally, she plans to publish a songwriting for music therapy guide based on findings.
“With a background as a songwriter in addition to being a music therapist, I realized that based on my writing style and content, I could use certain original compositions in a number of ways, altering the way I used them from delivery style to therapeutic intent based on client need. The songs really functioned as a template that I could adapt as needed. As I’ve presented on songwriting and also won awards for it within music therapy over the years, I became interested in also exploring the elements that make a pre-composed, popular song a universal and a “go-to” resource for music therapists during sessions.”
A classically trained singer-songwriter, King has performed at the US Open, Carnegie Hall, The Potter’s House and her song “Live, Love, Dream” is featured in the documentary “Signs of Humanity.” She also gives presentations throughout the nation on topics such as music therapy, songwriting and wellness. She is a former member of the Board of Directors for SMU’s Young Leaders in Education and currently serves as the Southwestern Region Committee Member on the American Music Therapy Association's Diversity and Multiculturalism Committee. She is also a former Education Programs Coordinator for the Dallas Regional Chamber where she managed and helped develop education outreach programs to benefit the students of Dallas ISD. Through her company, King Creative Arts Expressions, she started Bridge Beats at the Bridge Homeless Recovery Center- a music therapy and arts program for those experiencing homelessness. Music Therapy groups there focus on psycho-social support and the skills needed for homeless recovery, such as stress management, emotional expression, and the identification and implementation of positive coping skills. Visit http://www.kamicaking.com.
“I feel incredibly honored and excited to receive this scholarship,” added King. “It is helping to propel me towards degree completion and more globally, my future, in a major way. Virginia Chandler Dykes is a pioneer in her field of occupational therapy who has helped and served many. In a similar fashion, I seek to continue to break ground- planting programs and advancing the field of music therapy. “
In addition to King, graduate students from the remaining three TWU colleges will also be honored at the luncheon as recipients of scholarship funds: Laurie Stelter, College of Health Sciences (Occupational Therapy), sponsored by Edgemere – Dallas/SQLC Charitable Foundation; Julie Southward, College of Professional Education (COPE); and Katheryn Courville, College of Nursing, sponsored by Luther King Capital Management.
“TWU has enabled me to take my music and music therapy practice to another level,” added King. “What has been particularly helpful is that outside of core courses, I have flexibility to customize my degree plan. My company serves a range of people, and I love that I was able to add courses such as addictions counseling, intro to autism and even music entrepreneurship, which directly relates to the scope of my work as a board certified music therapist and a recording artist.”
TWU’s 15th Annual Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award Luncheon, March 8 at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion, will honor Dr. Stephen Mansfield, president and CEO of Dallas-based Methodist Health System, as the 2017 recipient of the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award. Tickets are $175 for silver patron; $250 for gold patron. For more information, call 940-898-3872, visit www.twu.edu/vcd, or email TRupani@twu.edu.