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Creativity Heals: Camacho rises from musician to mentor

“Music changed my life,” said Andrew Camacho during a snowy Sunday afternoon interview. He was speaking from his burgeoning cooperative studio business, soon to also be the home of his latest passion, the new non-profit Artflame.

Camacho’s entrepreneurial spirit is evident in all that he does. Today, it’s obvious that his can-do, self-starter personality has a lot to do with his series of successes. As a teenager, those developing traits weren’t as favorably received.

“Growing up in New London… let’s just say I got in trouble a lot,” said Camacho. So much so that his parents sent him to Texas to live with his aunt during high school. Their plan worked. Camacho not only graduated from high school, he also discovered his life’s purpose through music.

His cousin introduced him to making beats and rapping. It didn’t take long for the talented Camacho to begin writing and performing his own hip hop music.

“It’s kind of a hip hop thing to get your hometown behind you,” he said.

So in 2009, he returned to New London. Soon Camacho formed The Fly Ones and the group put out music and videos. They developed a following, actively played local clubs, and were even nominated for several Whalie Awards.

Driven to be self-sufficient, Camacho also developed his video and graphic production skills. He learned how to do every aspect of producing an album himself.

“I was a one-man army, so to speak,” he said. “I learned how to do it all on my own.”

Now, Camacho is on a mission to teach and mentor area youth, sharing all he knows about creating music and producing an album through Artflame. Through the course, youth will learn multimedia, management and team-building through the music making process.

“In the program, kids will learn how to write and perform music, and all the other skills involved in producing an album,” said Camacho. “If one kid doesn’t like to perform, but gravitates to graphic design, that can become their focus.”

“All I ever wanted was to be the person I needed growing up,” said Camacho. Coming full circle, Camacho’s purpose has expanded to make sure other kids — some of them kids who struggle like he did — can find a purpose through music.

“That’s where the healing comes in,” Camacho said.

Emma Palzere-Rae is Associate Director for Artreach, Inc. and founder of Be Well Productions. If you have a story about how creativity has helped you heal, please contact emma.artreachheals@gmail.com.

Who: Andrew Camacho, a.k.a. Suave-Ski

Town: New London

Creative Outlet: Music

Helpful Resource: www.artflame.org

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