A young percussionist who is setting his sights on the national stage took time to share his love of music with children at Highland Dwellings.
Malik Stewart, who is planning to compete on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” next year, brought his philosophy to the youth, along with fun and educational exercises.
“I have a brand that I made: Definition of Percussion Entertainment (D.O.P.E.). It basically focuses on teaching, promoting, and engaging everyone in this type of art,” Stewart said. “Percussion isn’t just drumming; it is a lifestyle.”
Stewart, 23, demonstrates different methods of drumming, including the fundamentals, and then allows the youth to give it a try. There is also dancing and games that challenge them physically and mentally while they tap out beats.
“What I implemented was how to have fun while still playing drums so I tell them ‘you can’t have fun without fundamentals’,” he said.
Stewart, a native Washingtonian from Northwest, was surrounded by drums at an early age. His mother was in the KanKouran West African Dance Company and he always had a drum set. However, he didn’t get serious about percussion until he was 12 years old. He began practicing Go-Go music, a big influence at the start of his career. Next he won a spot on the drum line in Northwestern High School’s marching band in Prince George’s County.
“That opened my mind to musicianship. It opened my whole world up,” said Stewart, who still worked nights with Go-Go bands while he was in high school. And then while attending community college in Prince George’s County, he got the opportunity to join Howard University’s marching band. “That opened my mind even more on a collegiate level of percussion. It was a great experience that got me on the level where I’m at now.”
Now, Stewart is trying to build his brand. In addition to working with area youth, he also is building an online presence on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. He also works with drumlines in Brooklyn, New York. He recently performed on Fox 5 television in D.C. and one of his street performances went viral with more than 51,000 shares. And that is when the producer from “America’s Got Talent” got in touch.
Now that I’ve been going viral on the internet and on TV...a producer from the show emailed me,” said Stewart, who had auditioned for the show about a year ago, but did not receive a call. “I didn’t have to go through the audition process. He just got me right on.”
Stewart is waiting for a few approvals, but said he hopes to record soon for the 2017 season. Meanwhile he is preparing for his performance.
While Stewart is preparing for his chance to win a $1 million grand prize, he wants to continue building his brand and giving back to communities – especially those that need positive role models.
“It means a lot to come into these communities and then inspire them with what I do—and they find inspiration in doing their own thing. It is an amazing experience to be the guidance, to be giving the help that I received. It’s giving back,” Stewart said. “And because one time somebody told me to identify purpose and legacy ... who you are, what you stand for, and will it continue.”