Kay Sampleton (aka KSriracha) is not just a residential program manager at AWARE. She is a rapper with a positive message – be your own version of yourself, don’t let life choose it for you.
Often times, her lyrics center around self-reflection and resilience because she believes the world would be a happier place with more of both.
Music has played a central role in Kay’s life for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Butte and Missoula performing in different choir and church groups. One year, in particular, she recalls her choir teacher passing out grades.
“I was heartbroken when I received mine. I received a satisfactory,” Kay said, “Come to find out, the whole class received that grade, but I had worked too hard for that.”
She later petitioned the result, and it was changed to reflect her exceptional performance.
For Kay, creating music is an outlet that fills her cup. It’s a rejuvenating form of self-care. Early on, she worried about how others might view her, but now she doesn’t mind so much.
Shortly after moving to New York, Kay started getting into rap. “I received a paid music job out there, and it was great to really start following my passion,” Kay said.
To help cover the cost of living, Kay held other jobs as well. She’s always been drawn to youth development work, and she began working with New York’s Boys and Girls Club.
“It’s been great to blend the two,” Kay said, “Music is a great way to get kids to open up.”
Since moving back to Montana and coming to work for AWARE, Kay has found that you have to be vulnerable around kids. If you show your authentic self, they will reciprocate.
“You can learn just as much from kids as they can learn from you. You just have to be patient and remember to stop and listen to what they’re trying to say,” Kay said.
Kay believes music is a great tool to share important messages with kids. She’s intentional about creating verses that are positive, strong and resilient. Hercules is a popular song among the residents of the group home she manages. She wrote it shortly after the Kobe Bryant crash and was inspired by the Disney movie. Listen to the song below.
“I always start by creating a beat based on my mood or how I want to feel,” Kay said, “Once I have that, I can work out the words and the message. I always have an image in mind when creating any verse.”
Kids ask her how they can write music and become rappers themselves, and Kay is always willing to give them some helpful tips. She thinks music can serve as an outlet for anyone.
A few weeks ago, Kay was approached by a girl in another one of AWARE’s homes who wanted to write a song about a recent breakup. Together they worked out the main image for the song – the ripple of a tide – and started a long list of words that would rhyme and fit within that image. Kay left and after about an hour the girl had finished her first take and was able to perform in front of everyone in the house.
“It was beautiful to see her express emotions in a positive way,” Kay said.
Kay experienced something similar after the passing of her little brother who had been struggling with addiction. The first song released on her channel, Adolescent, helped her process through the overwhelming emotions.
It’s taken time for Kay to develop her core message of encouraging self-reflection and inspiring resilience. It’s something she continues to refine every day because of the benefits she believes it can provide to anyone.
To further her message, she’s recently formed a t-shirt brand called Phases of My Journey – Resilience is Brilliance. Be sure to check it out along with her YouTube channel, KSriracha. Like, follow and subscribe to stay up to date with her latest work.