When Montgomery resident Melvin Gray started looking up statistics and information about child trafficking, he was appalled. So he responded in the best way he knew how: he wrote a song.
“I didn’t realize this was really happening,” Gray said. “It’s true, not just something on TV. I did homework, seeing the facts about it, what’s really going on. I found a beat, and it didn’t take long to write it.”
Gray has been rapping locally since 1998, starting as a freestyler and later forming a group called Bad Seeds in Dekalb. He’s been a solo act for years, and is set to release his new album, Tha Afterlife, in December. Gray is an engineer and a producer as well.
He’s also a partner, with David McLaughlin of Oswego, in Elite Studio, a new recording facility that opened two months ago in Aurora. And it was through McLaughlin that Gray heard about Saturday’s 5K, and about the horrors of child trafficking.
“Being a father myself, and being in the community, and knowing this stuff is going on around our children is frightening to me,” said McLaughlin. He participated in the STCNow 5K last year, at the urging of organizer Carolyna Castaneda of Montgomery, and wanted to do something more to help this year.
He approached Gray about writing a song, and when he heard what Gray came up with, he knew it was important.
“It’s a groundbreaking song,” he said. “(Gray) has never been a victim of this, but it touched him so deep. He’s singing from the parent’s perspective.”
Since the song was completed, Gray said people have been sending him emails and notes about it, thanking him for speaking up about the subject.
“When I do music, I like to be able to touch people,” Gray said. “I like when people hear it, for them to relate to what I’m saying.”
Gray and McLaughlin will have CDs of “When You Come Home” available on Saturday, and half the proceeds will go directly to Stop Child Trafficking Now, a national organization that attempts to address the source of child trafficking: the predators who drive the sex industry.
SCTNow "partners with specially-trained operatives familiar with what it takes to infiltrate, investigate and bring to justice the predators victimizing children worldwide," according to its website.
Saturday’s 5K begins at 9 a.m. Castenada said she has 116 runners signed up. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult and registered as a participant. The event will include several family-friendly activities, including a bounce house for children and face painting.
The will help issue child identification kits which will include the child’s picture, fingerprints, and voice recording.
As for Gray’s song, it will be available on iTunes and other outlets shortly. Both Gray and McLaughlin hope it brings some attention to a problem that affects families around the country.
“I can’t fathom something like that happening to a parent,” McLaughlin said. “I want to do everything in my power and in Elite Studio’s power to let people know this is happening, and help stop it.”
Hear "When You Come Home" by clicking on the video above.