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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The City of Louisville honored Martin Luther King Junior Sunday with performances by local artists.
One group of teenagers used the "Keeper of the Dream" event at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts as an opportunity to call for an end to the violence.
MPMG, or Music Producing and Mentoring Group, is a group of Louisville teens who get together to not only perform but take part in counseling sessions. Organizers say the group gives the teens a positive outlet and keeps them off the streets.
"Some of them believe, I'll never get out of this so why even try," says Lyndell Johnson. But the teens who visit his recording studio twice every two months now have more to look forward to. "They want to do better, they want to be somebody society can count on, not all of them want to have negative images."
For some, the group saved their lives, while for others, it got to them before the gangs could.
"If I'm mad at someone, I go in and I'm recording," says Andrew Matlock. "No need to lash out, because I have something to lash out on."
Lamonte "D-Twizt" Branham says he has avoided the temptations of the street due to his love for music and skateboarding. The group, he says, has contributed to his success.
"I was at the right place during the wrong time, the right place being the mentoring," says Branham. "Something could have been going on down near my place and I missed out on the wrong thing."
Coming out of a year that saw 48 homicides across Louisville, the group begged a packed house at the Kentucky Center to end the violence -- much like Martin Luther King Junior did.
"We're trying to tell people, that's not a way to solve your problems," says Matlock. "Talk it out. Work it out."
Through original lyrics, the group took the stage Sunday and reflected on a summer afternoon in 2012 when three people were lost to gun violence.
In May 2012 near S. 32nd and Kentucky Streets, 22-year-old Craig Blande, Jr. and 24-year-old Tyson Mimms were killed. A short while later, Mimm's girlfriend, Makeba Lee, was shot multiple times in broad daylight.
The group talked about Lee in the song they performed at the Kentucky Center. Lee's mother, son, and young brother joined the group on stage.
"It re-opens a sore that has a really small scab on it," says Lee's mother Aja Enkremah. "Her son at nighttime, he cries for his mother."
Although painful to re-live, she says, she hopes this performance means less people have to lose their parents or their children at the hands of another.
"What kind of difference can I make so someone else's mother doesn't have to feel what I'm feeling," says Enkremah. "What is it that I can do to make things change?"
The teens of MPMG not only occupy their time with something positive, but they get free counseling from mentors as well.
Organizers say they hope to add female mentors and performers in the future.
The program is funded through donations and grant money.