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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Dec. 27, 2018 3 years ago

Violinist preaches positivity through music

Jasmin Rhia once lived out her dream working for the music industry but learned that her dream had a dark side. Today, she uses music to encourage self-love.
by: Eric Gutierrez Former Staff Writer

In 2011, Jasmin Rhia moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream job of working in the music industry. She attained that dream, but in the few years she worked in the industry, she learned it wasn’t all she hoped it would be.

Rhia, 28, is a violinist, DJ, music producer and songwriter who lives in Windermere. She grew up in Atlanta and started playing the violin when she was 10. She moved to Orlando in 2002 and  attended Dr. Phillips High School, where she graduated from in 2008. She went on to study music at Florida International University.

After graduating from FIU, Rhia moved to California to pursue her dream job. Everything in California was fine for Rhia at first, but things took a dark turn over the years. She hit a low point in 2015 and, around that time, was in a car accident that nearly took her life.

It was in those moments that she experienced the jolt she needed to pull her out of the darkness that had enshrouded her. It was the wake-up call that would lead her down a path of using music to preach positivity and self love.

Living the dream

Rhia worked as a ghostwriter and producer of rap music in California. Early in her career, she focused on making connections within the industry and building her reputation.

“I moved to Los Angeles in order to write songs and produce music for up-and-coming artists,” Rhia said. “Once I gained a certain level of status, the problem with that was I became so obsessed with gaining status that I lost sight of everything.”

She learned the ins and outs of the music industry as she worked toward building her reputation. Some of that made her realize that her dream job wasn’t always about glitz and glamor. 

“Once I found out more (about) how the industry worked, I was just really turned off,” Rhia said. “There’s a lot of darkness — a lotta, lotta darkness — in the industry.”

One of the aspects of the music industry — particularly with rap music — Rhia realized during her career was that the lyrics of many songs are negative and/or violent, and she was forced to keep writing that type of content, she said.

“What you have to talk about (in your music) is not something that necessarily helps out the community,” Rhia said. “With rap music for example — you need to talk about violence … you need to talk about gangs, you need to talk about partying, drugs, sex, rock ’n’ roll and all that kind of stuff.”

Rhia added that the music she was involved with creating did more harm than good. She wasn’t conscious of it at first, but when she became aware of the impacts of the words she was writing, her outlook of the industry flipped. It was then that dark side of the music industry began to grab hold of her.

“In the beginning, I didn’t see it as that big of a problem, because I was unconscious,” she said. “I just thought it was normal, and then I started to notice how it was affecting the community. … I started to realize that the music that I was participating in wasn’t doing any good, and that’s when I realized, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore.’”

The turning point

Jasmin Rhia is a violinist, DJ, music producer and songwriter.

Once that darkness had hold of her, Rhia slipped into a mentally and emotionally low point and realized her dream job was not giving her a sense of fulfillment. She even fell into a state of depression that was so bad that she questioned her reason for living. 

“I thought it was my big dream,” Rhia said. “There’s a reason why these celebrities are committing suicide. A lot of times, you think you want this (dream) so bad and you get in there and you realize — once you sign that contract — you are now a slave. … I was not feeling fulfilled whatsoever. I was depressed.”

Around the same time, Rhia got into a bad car accident that nearly killed her. That near-death experience was the wake-up call she needed to move on from the dream she once had. 

“I started to realize, ‘What am I doing? This is not me,’” Rhia said. “What woke me up was a car accident. … After that accident, I was reborn.”

From there, Rhia left California in 2015 and came back home to the Orlando area. She took a break from music, went back to school and focused on getting a job in the medical field. 

“I had a major identity crisis,” Rhia said. “Before, I was always that girl who was into music that was for sure going to be a performer. … I started to think I was a loser.”

Rhia eventually got a job as a certified nurse assistant. Her time as a CNA was the turning point that pulled her out. Spending time with patients taught her the meaning of gratitude, she said. 

“I started to really feel what gratitude was, and that’s something that was missing from my life,” Rhia said. “Spending time with patients healed me right up because … they needed my smile to give them hope for another day.”

After reaching that turning point, Rhia realized she wanted to do something that had always been in the back of her mind — working with and being a positive role model for children. And she would use music to accomplish that goal, as well. She left her job as a CNA to go back to music and pursue the next chapter of her life.

Teaching self-love

Today, Rhia works as a substitute teacher with Orange County Public Schools. When she’s not teaching in the classroom, she enjoys teaching children about self-love through music. 

“I started to do these workshops called ‘Know Your Worth,’” Rhia said. “They are musical workshops where I teach kids the power of knowing and loving themselves for who they are.”

Although the time she spent working in the music industry put her through some hard times, she uses the industry skills she has acquired to preach positivity and to teach children how to make music.

“I still use the skills that I had to acquire in order to be a songwriter and a producer,” Rhia said. “I use those skills and I apply it to the workshop, so the kids and I make music from scratch. I teach them how to produce music, I teach them how to express themselves using lyrics and these lyrics are positive affirmations that are going to pretty much increase their level of self-esteem.”

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Eric Gutierrez was a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Southwest Orange Observer....

See All Articles by Eric

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