No stranger to adversity, the pandemic inspired the men in Ujamaa Place’s Music Therapy program to start their very own music group, Ujamaa Music Group.

Saint Paul, MN (August 25, 2021) – Since 2016, OMG Media Solutions’ partnership with the Minnesota State Fair to bring a Celebration of Culture and Community to the Fair has enhanced the entertainment experience, as well as brought the Fair to the community through outreach and opportunities. An example of this outreach has included an employment partnership with Ujamaa Place, as well as having Ujamaa Music Group (UMG) in-concert at the 2021 Great Minnesota Get-Back-Together.

Familiar with hard times, scarcity, and uncertainty, the men at Ujamaa Place faced the COVID-19 pandemic head-on. Located in Saint Paul, Ujamaa Place serves primarily African American men, ages 18-30. Historically, for Black people, music has provided healing during times of struggle, and equally as vital, it has provided a means of storytelling and documentation. “Tapping into ancestral strength and guidance, in the wake of the George Floyd murder, during an unprecedented health and economic crisis, in addition to their pre-existing struggles of being Black and poor (some justice-impacted, uneducated, unemployed, and homeless), the men of Ujamaa’s Music Therapy program formed UMG, a hip hop/soul group on a mission to uplift, empower, and change lives through music,” said Monique Linder, Founder/CEO of OMG Media Solutions, media agency of record for Ujamaa Place and UMG. “To see the men on the other side of transformation, doing something they love, in an effort to help others, is a blessing and a miracle that I feel honored to witness. I’m here to do everything in my power to support their mission,” remarked Monique.

“UMG is at the heart of what the Celebration of Culture and Community is all about, an inclusive experience, where all cultures are welcomed and celebrated,” said Renee Alexander, Deputy General Manager, Entertainment and Marketing at the Fair. “Their story of resilience resonates with a lot of people right now having survived a pandemic. I think that will really come across through their performance and touch a lot of hearts in the audience,” said Monique.

UMG released their first song “On A Mission” on January 25, 2021. Since then, under the direction of their mentor, Kirk Johnson aka Mr. KAJ, UMG has been busy writing music and rehearsing for performances, in addition to attending their other required programming at Ujamaa Place. Ujamaa Men enroll in the Theory of Transformation program model, which gives participants access to over 30 transformation services and a Coach to support them during their transformation journey, all provided at no cost to participants. 

Bayo, a Ujamaa Man since 2017, employed at Ujamaa Place and a founding member of UMG, explained that his experience with UMG has so far felt like a dream. “I blinked once, and we were releasing our first single and filming a music video.  I blinked again and we were performing our first gig. I blinked again and we were performing at Paisley Park, and now we are rehearsing to perform on one of our biggest stages yet at the Minnesota State Fair,” said Bayo. “I am grateful to Ujamaa Place for supporting our vision and helping turn our dream into a reality. We know this wouldn’t have been possible without the resources, support and encouragement of Ujamaa Place and our community,” further remarked Bayo.

UMG will perform a total of six (6) shows on the International Bazaar Stage on September 1 and 2 at 10:45am, 12noon and 1:15pm. The shows are free, so everyone is invited to join UMG for the 2021 Celebration of Culture and Community.

Follow UMG on Facebook and Instagram: @UjamaaMusicGroup.  For more information, visit: https://ujamaaplace.org/ujamaa-music-group/

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About OMG Media Solutions

Since 2014, OMG Media Solutions has provided media & entertainment consulting and business strategy solutions to corporations, entrepreneurs, government, and non-profit organizations nationwide.   

About Ujamaa Place

Ujamaa Place provides holistic transformation for young African-American men experiencing inequity at the intersection of race and poverty, helping them achieve brotherhood, stability, and personal success.