My childhood wounds were magnified and reflected in the lyrics I listened to day in and day out.
To mark six months of Cecilia, we bring you our very first “Dear Cecilia,” a way for our artists and fans to connect. These are open letters: a chance for artists to share their story, for music lovers to share about a song that inspired them, etc.
Our first letter comes from one of our artists, Nick “Dy-Verse” Torres:
I was given the daunting task of writing a bit about my life in light of the music I make and the Catholic faith that I subscribe to. A humbling task I must admit, because unlike many of you reading this article, I have not always exemplified a virtuous Catholic lifestyle throughout my short span on earth. Perhaps, it is why I relate to those who have not, for lack of better words, fit the stereotypical church mold. Now I say this with love and appreciation for those who have: Be it not for you, I would not be where I am.
To give you some context, I was born in Bogota, Colombia in 1991. An era that marked the downfall of one of the world’s largest drug dealers, Pablo Escobar; a time very much turbulent and void of peace. In spite of this violence, the people were marked for their Catholic history and devout practices in the faith.
Financial circumstances and the pursuit of opportunity brought my family to a small town near the ritzy Palm Beach, Florida where I would be raised. There is where I began a “love affair” with a genre of music called hip-hop, due to its mainstream popularity and lyricism that resonated with the marginalized.
My family life was a peaceful one as my parents persevered through the ups and downs of marital life in the midst of a huge transition: culturally, economically and the difficulty of being apart from their families. Our Catholic faith was nourished in the midst of troubling circumstances and we continued fighting the good fight remaining close to our local parish community.
In spite of firm foundations in the faith, I began rebelling in my own way. My childhood wounds were magnified and reflected in the lyrics I listened to day in and day out, fueling the fear and hate due to the plague of racism and a strong anti-migrant sentiment. Furthermore, when violence wasn’t the topic, sexual promiscuity was the theme promulgated in the music, and the young curious boy I was became intrigued. During this time period, I began to produce and write my own songs, with a background in playing the guitar and a natural love for writing. My desired lifestyle—because I can’t say I was actually living like my role models—was then reflected in the music.
My talent was noticeable and I continued to work on refining my skills. At 16, I met with a rapper who had been featured on our local radio station, and, inspired by our meeting, began to take my music dreams to the next level. Around the same time, I met another local artist whose message was different. He went by Rashad, and the mixtape he convinced me to buy was titled “Words of Power.” I hadn’t thought anything of it, but upon pressing play on my CD player, I could not help but listen to the entire compilation from start to finish and replaying it a few more times. His message was one of rebellion: rebellion from a genre that promoted guns, violence and objectification of women. He wanted to lift people up with his message and promote the good. Although his music wouldn’t have been labeled Christian (a few expletives here and there), his words really did affect me powerfully, and brought my heart closer to the Christian faith and perspective. However, aspirations remained with the resonating message I had grown accustomed to listening to.
Upon entering college, I quickly learned that the path I had chosen for my personal life was leading into despair and depression, rather than the true pleasure and satisfaction I had been seeking. I began renouncing my “old ways” with the inspiration of a few of my Christian friends, the prayers of my family, and the help of a community of young adults at my campus’s Catholic Church.