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How opera helped a young singer from Ferguson succeed

Video shot by Matt Bowman, produced by Ruth Ezell and edited by Aja Williams.

As the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death approaches this weekend, young opera singer Melvin Bozeman reflected on his experience with the police in Ferguson and how the arts drove him to succeed.

Bozeman graduated from McCluer North High School in Florissant, Missouri, this past spring. He said he has had negative experiences with police in Ferguson before — in one instance, police stopped him and his brother while they were headed to their grandmother’s house. He said a strong sense of self helped him get through that situation. “I could have gotten upset and retaliated,” he said. “But I didn’t believe in that. I said, ‘I’m going to stay who I am in this situation,’ and that helped me out of the situation.”

In spite of that experience, Bozeman said concerns about Ferguson’s police have not shaped his life. Instead, his passion for music helped him through school and won him a full-tuition scholarship to the University of Kentucky to study voice. “As a young person, you have to put your mind to something,” he said. “If you have your mind set on something positive and you work towards it, it’s going to benefit you.”

Local Beat is an ongoing series on Art Beat that features arts and culture stories from PBS member stations around the nation. 

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