Allowing your influence to motivate and inform others is exactly what Christopher LeMark does as a Chicago artist and mental health activist!
Please let everyone know, who is Mr. Christopher LeMark?
I am silly. Most people don’t get to experience that side of me, but I love to laugh. I struggle with social anxiety. I find it difficult to relate to people in general. Being comfortable makes it much easier to navigate in social settings, but it usually takes a while to get there. Music is everything. I love to cook and serve others. When I’m not in charge of an event or production, I’m most likely the quietest guy in the room.
As an artist from the southside of Chicago, what lead you to become a mental health advocate?
In November 2018, I was sitting inside of a local Starbucks and I started crying uncontrollably. It was out of nowhere and I couldn’t stop. All of my childhood untreated trauma combined with present-day issues pushed me to the edge. I felt broken and powerless. This emotional moment would motivate me to go to counseling. Therapy was difficult at first, but after experiencing transformative moments, I wanted to share this feeling with the people.
Can you tell us more about Coffee Hip-Hop and Mental Health and why you started it?
I wanted to return to the stage with something different. I couldn’t see myself just rapping anymore. So I decided to build with the therapist community. When I write the words Coffee, Hip-Hop & Mental Health, I could see the panel, the band, and a huge coffee bar. Our number one goal is to help normalize therapy. This is my way of bridging the gap between communities and mental health practitioners. By curating events that are centered around erasing the stigma & building awareness. We’re using music & these social gatherings to insert a conversation that needs to happen more often. From hair salons to barbershops, clubs and event spaces, our discussions feature radio personalities, licensed therapists and mental health specialists. I found a comfortable way to use my story to motivate people to share their internal struggles. At the end of each event we provide resources and information to help people navigate accordingly.
Can you let everyone know more about what you have coming up next?
Right now, we’re focused on 3 events. Our end of the year fundraiser, The JAY-Z tribute concert (It’s a Broadway and live concert event created to pay homage to the life and times of Shawn Carter in honor of his 50th birthday) it’s on Saturday, December 7th at City Point Loft here in Chicago. We’re also decoding the power of hip-hop on December 10th at The Promontory and an all-youth event with hopes of providing an outlet for them to share their life experiences on December 15th.
How can others get involved?
Volunteers and potential panelists can sign up at www.Chhamh.com by selecting the volunteer and the cafe tabs to apply.
For more on Coffee Hip-Hop and Mental Health, click here!
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All images by Natasha Vinson