Beats Beyond The Wall: Riley’s Journey

“When I was in Juvenile Hall every Tuesday Joe and Rashaad with David’s Harp would come inside the facility and bring drum pads and keyboards to make beats. That really just kept the spirit alive in there for me. For that moment it was like I was free” – Riley

In the heart of East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, a connection sparked between a young man named Riley and two Artist Mentors from The David’s Harp Foundation (DHF). Riley, serving 365 days, found solace in music and a sense of hope through his mentors, Joe and Rashaad. The bond they forged within the confines of a detention facility would lay the foundation for an extraordinary transformation.

The DHF Artist Mentors earned Riley’s trust and respect each week. As they brought Mobile Recording Studios into East Mesa, they transformed the a sterile institutional space into a vibrant haven of creativity and expression. This space became Riley’s sanctuary, where he would eagerly spend every program period creating and expressing himself through music. His relationship with Joe, in particular, evolved into a mentorship that transcended the facility’s walls, becoming a guiding light in navigating the complex systems awaiting Riley upon release.

As his release date approached, the DHF team worked closely with Probation Officer Ruiz to ensure a smooth transition back into the community. The plan included reentry into academics, audio production workforce training, and participation in the DHF’s Beats Beyond the Wall program. This program aims to provide a supportive community for youth like Riley, recently released from incarceration, guiding them through the often challenging probationary period.

Despite apprehensions about re-enrolling in high school and the initial hurdles of probation, Riley’s trust in his mentors pushed him to give these challenges another shot. He promptly re-enrolled in San Diego County Office of Education’s Juvenile Court and Community School and stepped into the Beats Beyond the Wall program with determination and resilience.

His journey wasn’t without its bumps. Navigating probation proved challenging, but the unwavering support from Joseph and the DHF staff was a constant, helping him steer through the rough patches. The same environment that had once led Riley astray was now being reshaped into a nurturing space of growth and opportunity.

Riley’s dedication was evident in his work. Over a six-month period, he composed original music for multiple clients, mentored his peers in DHF music production classes, and successfully completed the South Bay Community Services Achievement Center program. He accomplished these milestones while adhering to his probationary requirements, a testament to his resolve and the positive influence of the Beats Beyond the Wall program.

Riley’s journey reached a triumphant milestone when he was terminated from probation – a rare occurrence that speaks volumes about his transformation. Soon after, he achieved another significant feat by graduating from high school, a milestone that was once uncertain.

Today, Riley’s journey has come full circle. The young man who once entered the music production studio as an incarcerated youth, now stands as a beacon of hope and resilience. He was hired as a part-time Artist Mentor at DHF, the same place where he found his path years ago. His story is a testament to the transformative power of music, mentorship, and a supportive community.

Riley’s story symbolizes the spirit of The David’s Harp Foundation. It stands as a testament to DHF’s commitment to empowering youth, especially those navigating the justice system, to rewrite their narratives and to build a brighter future through the power of music and community.

“Before I came to David’s Harp, I didn’t know there was an opportunity to be in the commercial business producing beats; I didn’t even know that was a thing.” – Riley

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