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Student Fights Violence With Her Music

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RALEIGH — When it comes to campaigns against youth violence, young people are increasingly joining the fight. They recognize they are an important part of the solution. A young Raleigh artist is doing what she can to change things for the better

Jessica Alatande keeps her poetry positive. "My name's Torkwase, which means queen," she tells a rapt audience of youngsters.

Torkwase holds court in a workshop on music and communication at the Exploris Children's Museum in Raleigh.

She looks forward to continuing to grow as a performing artist. There has been talk of record deals and completing her education. Torkwase is majoring in anthropology.

She transfixes young crowds with a blend of the spoken word, a hip-hop rhythm, and general good will.

Twenty years old and a student atN.C. State University, Torkwase has been hooked on words since she was 9 years old. She believes it connects people.

Her inspiration? "Well, I mostly get it from the different things that are around me," she says. "You know, I might be watching television or having a discussion with my parents or just looking at other young people around myself."

Torkwase has performed for young people all over the world. Recently, she took a poem called "Love and Tenderness" to Cuba.

Torkwase completes her set with "Africa is Me." The house registers its approval by applause, and Torkwase hopes she has left them inspired.

"Always you should do the best you can. Move to the top of your ability and that's what I try to touch in to," she says.

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