Chatting with Doug!

January 20th, 2018: Royce Martin, Liam Award Winner 2017

Doug: You were the first-ever "Liam" Award recipient, presented by Harmony for Peace Foundation. What did that mean to you? And how did Liam's story affect you?

Royce:  I was honored to receive the Liam award! It meant a lot to me that I was chosen for such a very special award. I am honored to have that award, honestly. Liam's story and this award played a huge role in my composition Aurora. I incorporated the pentatonic scales that are present in a lot of traditional Asian music because I know Liam was very into Japanese culture. I learned this by sitting for a lunch with his wonderful parents. Also, I felt that the Asian vibe for the piece would be a good idea seeing that Tomoko, the founder of the foundation is Japanese. These things inspired me.

Doug: Both you and your composition, "Aurora" exemplify the spirit of the "Liam" Award! Describe your reaction at flying from St. Louis to Philadelphia to accept the award and perform at the Kimmel Center.

Royce: I accepted the award on June 4th in my hometown, St. Louis. I traveled to Philadelphia later on November 4th to perform at the Kimmel Center. When Tomoko first invited me to perform at the Kimmel Center I was very very excited. I had never traveled out of town to play the piano. Especially at a place like the Kimmel Center. I was and still am very very very thankful for the opportunity! I was excited to see the city and meet my host family, Mr. and Mrs. Litwin. I was also able to bring my best friend which made the experience even better. I seriously can not thank Tomoko and the Harmony for Peace Foundation enough for that opportunity. I learned so much and hope to be back one day!

Doug: It was a magnificent performance! Harmony for Peace Foundation will be hosting another concert in St. Louis April 29th. What message do you want convey as the "Liam" Award recipient? Why is it so important to get the word out regarding depression?

Royce: As the Liam award recipient I want to let people know that whatever hand they are dealt by life, remember that hard times never last and mental health is always a priority. I really want everyone to know that they are special and artistic! We as humans need to love through the understanding that we are all that we have and realize that we share a common struggle; and in that is a common goal which is happiness. We can achieve happiness through love which is where it must first start. It is important that we address depression because so many people suffer in silence because of the negative stigma attached to admitting to have an emotional disorder. We must end this stigma and getting people fighting depression the help that they need.

Doug: Beautifully said. And you are so right. Self-awareness and the awareness of other's struggles are key! By the way, you told me your flight to Philly contained a bunch of "firsts!" Tell me about it.

Royce: It was my first flight ever. Before that experience I hadn't rode on an airplane. It was a crazy experience because for one, my friend and I missed our first flight because we showed up to the airport just 45 minutes before our scheduled flight. Despite being told to show up 2 hours ahead of time. Apart being confused where to go when we got in the airport, I also found out that I had to pay a baggage fee and realized that you can't pay with a debit card but either cash or a pay card that charged me $5 extra to activate. On a brighter note, the actual flight was very fun! Seeing the world from 40,000 feet in the air was a surreal experience. Also, take off was very fun and almost scary. From 6 to 300 mph in about 2 seconds. The only things about the flight is that there is no cell service, leg room, and popping ears. Either way I am very very grateful for the experience and opportunity. Lastly, it was my first time going to Philadelphia. I instantly felt at home and everyone was really welcoming. I got to see the beautiful city and learn some history while also living my dream. A big thanks to my host family Mr. and Mrs. Litwin for inviting my friend Assante and I into their beautiful home. Also to Harmony for Peace for the opportunity. I can not thank you guys enough!

Doug: With each flight, comes more travel wisdom! And it looks like you got all of your flying travails out of the way on your very first trip! Glad we could help!

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