A write-up about the new music and campaign/tour in the Franklin Free Press.

2015 looks to be a pretty good year for local musician Nathan Graham. The Russellville hip-hop artist has a July 24th date set for the release of his new album, Brainstorm. His music and song pages at www.Soundclick.com have generated a record high of more than 3,100 views and plays. Graham's recorded more than 30 songs, giving him plenty of options for content on his new album. And Graham is seeing ever-increasing sales on his three lines of t-shirts. For someone whose childhood dream was to have a music career, life seems right on track for the husband and father of four. If you think success might have gone to his head with so much positive momentum in his music career, you probably haven't met Graham. His 31 years of life have been a struggle for Graham, whose head remains filled with emotional scars and pain that leaves no room for arrogance. Graham has battled substance abuse for years. His brief periods of sobriety inevitably would succumb to the siren song of addiction, and a turnstile relationship with the criminal court system. Graham's life has been impacted, directly or indirectly, by gun violence, domestic violence, suicidal thoughts and child abuse. Each was traumatic to experience or witness, leaving memories that he will forever carry. Those memories and residual feelings formed the basis of a very personal campaign Graham recently started, something he calls #StopTheViolenceAmerica. It's a social media campaign Graham hopes will bring increased awareness to the issues of gun and domestic violence, child abuse and suicide prevention. “My grandmother (Carol Ann Graham) was shot and killed by a man who then took his own life,” Graham said. “I wanted to do something to give back and with the upcoming album and t-shirt sales for #StopTheViolenceAmerica, I'll take a portion of the proceeds and give back to agencies and organizations that bring awareness to these issues. With Brainstorm, I wanted to do more than just write songs and beats. I wanted to reach out to people who've been through what I've been through. Songwriting is my way to help me deal with those issues,” Graham added. For many years, drugs and alcohol were Graham's way of dealing with those same issues. He credits his passion for music, and becoming a father, with providing the strength to control his addiction. Graham recalls a photo he took of himself shortly after he started the long process of getting clean. That picture provided inspiration for Brainstorm's promotional album cover. “I was in deep thought about just fully giving up and saying I can't do this anymore,” Graham said. “There was no way around, over or under it. I had to deal with this problem of addiction head-on. It put me through so much pain, agony, financial problems and more. It can destroy you quickly,” he added. Graham celebrated three years of sobriety in March. No drugs. No alcohol. No ensuing misery. “I'm actually very happy where I'm at now. I'm a very thoughtful, conservative and observant person. I don't talk a lot. I'll introduce myself but I listen a lot to others before I speak,” Graham said. “I get to wake up with my daughter (18-month-old Mariah) every morning. I'm a stay at home dad. I thought that would be simple but it's a real tough job. I also work, do music and write at night,” he added. Graham lives with his girlfriend, Chaleyna Taylor, and their three children. His oldest child Ethan, 9, is from a previous relationship and lives with his mother. Graham makes the most of the opportunity to spend his days with his three daughters at home. “Now that it's summer and all three are home, there are more time demands but they are each interested in what I do. We sit down and come up with poems and drawings,” Graham said. “I try to keep them engaged. I've always been quiet but very artistic. I just don't say a lot. My family is the exact opposite,” he said. A few songs from Brainstorm have already been released. Bulletproof deals with gun violence and how we see people shooting people for no reason in our world. “I've been involved in music for 10 years and I've seen a lot of things. I've seen people get killed over name calling,” Graham said. He recalled an incident when he was 19. Graham went to Huntsville to take part in a freestyle battle, a hip-hop competition where artists come up with beats and lyrics while 'battling' another musician. “There was an established hip-hop artist there so there were a lot of people, which took it to another level. This guy got humiliated in his competition and he got really upset,” Graham said. “I told my wife we needed to get out of there so we went to the nearby Waffle House. “When the club let out later, we had just left the Waffle House when I got a call saying the guy who lost the battle shot the other freestyler at the restaurant and killed him. I could feel something was going to happen. The hip-hop genre puts a glorified spin on being shot so I try with my music to put the opposite spin on it. It's not cool to be shot or shoot someone,” Graham added. Graham also penned Suicide, about getting to the brink of deciding to end your life and coming back from that point. Although he was not abused as a child, Graham has witnessed addicts who were often abused as children carry on the cycle and become abusive to their children. “As a parent, it's hard to understand how someone could physically abuse their child. I've seen children in a store grab something off the shelf and watched their parents smack them. How can you do that?,” Graham asked. Though he was not accused of physical contact, Graham was convicted in 2009 of domestic violence harassment after an incident involving his son's mother. “I never touched her but I was fed up from not seeing my son so I refused to leave and punched the door,” Graham said. “I paid a fine and served unsupervised probation for that incident. “I should have told my son I loved him and just left. I let my emotions outweigh my intelligence. I was so upset with myself for letting her get me to react emotionally,” Graham added. Graham encourages community agencies who work with domestic violence victims to contact him about receiving financial support from music and t-shirt revenues. Brainstorm can be ordered through Soundclick.com/2wo5ive6ix or by contacting Graham directly at 256-436-2930. He has t-shirts for sale with the #StopTheViolenceAmerica logo, #Brainstorm shirts and shirts with his 2wo5ive6ix music publishing logos. Shirts are $20 (S-XL) and $25 (XXL). Bulletproof and Rollercoaster, the first two releases from his upcoming album, are available at Soundclick.com/2wo5ive6ix as well. He can be contacted by email at nathan256graham@gmail.com. Graham has social media pages on Facebook, with a personal page and a page for 2wo5ive6ix, a Twitter account (Nathan256Graham), Instagram and Google Plus. Though his music career was put on hold two years ago after the birth of his daughter, this time Graham's in it for the long haul. “I'm a lot more motivated and determined. Everything is 'times 10' this time around. Every morning I wake up and make a goal of 20 things to do that day,” Graham said. “I don't always get them all but I'm working towards that. “I look back at all the ways I failed and now I understand why I failed. I've done it wrong so many times. But my music was not on the scale it should have been because of my poor work ethic. Now, it's top notch. I'm always doing something,” Graham said.

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