2018-04-12 / Front Page



“Amazing Women” host Deb Ruggiero and guest Teresa Murray in studio to promote Murray’s debut album during the April 1 radio broadcast. “Amazing Women” host Deb Ruggiero and guest Teresa Murray in studio to promote Murray’s debut album during the April 1 radio broadcast. “The stage is where you feel free, to open your wings to fly.”

Those are the words of Teresa Murray, a lifelong islander who has fulfilled a personal dream by recording her own CD. Also known as JtownT, Murray will celebrate the release of her aptly named album at 7 p.m. Monday at the library. For passersby who routinely see Murray dancing and rapping as she walks through town, they won’t be surprised by the reggae and hip-hop beats embraced in “The Dream.”

Murray, 30, was born with Down syndrome, a genetic abnormality that affects about one in every 1,000 babies. That, however, has not hampered her creativity.

“I have a passion for the arts, especially writing poetry, and now making music,” she said.

Murray rapping and dancing as she strolls downtown. Murray rapping and dancing as she strolls downtown. Murray’s love for the arts surfaced when she was a teenager in high school. She became involved with the Jamestown Community Theatre by working backstage during rehearsals and productions. During this time, she met the troupe’s artistic director, Mary Wright, and the women became close friends. Wright served as a significant source of guidance when Murray decided to publish a collection of her poems, “Attitude to Gratitude.”

“Mary is the coolest person I know,” Murray said. “She can make anyone smile. She saw something in me that I didn’t.”

Teresa took her poetry a step further when she decided to transform her stanzas into lyrics. That’s when recording an album crossed her mind.

“But I knew I couldn’t do it alone,” she said.

Luckily, her friend Travis Atwood was in the midst of planning his senior project at North Kingstown High School. His mother, Sheryl Gomes, also endorsed the idea. While Murray is the artist, Atwood is “the initiator,” formulating the game plan and assigning roles, his mom said.

“Teresa is a gift,” Atwood said. “She captures the essence of art, music and writing. It was an honor collaborating with her.”

Another partner in the project, Eric Dantas, an East Greenwich resident who produces music on the side, assisted with the production. He also was impressed with Murray’s work ethic.

“She is easy to work with and improving every time we make a new song,” he said. “She’s very self-directed.”

The process started by recording Murray rapping her lyrics, which is usually a phrase or line. Then the recording was linked to the keys on her keyboard software so she can DJ herself by mixing with other artists’ beats. The album is straight from the keyboard.

“It’s an organic mix of music,” Gomes said. “To watch her play is so powerful.”

Murray said the themes of her record are freedom, imagination and inspiration.

“I want people to see how my emotions erupt through my soul,” she said. “My favorite track is ‘Constant Companion.’ I hope to inspire people.”

Murray said she doesn’t know where she would be without the community’s support, including her family, friends and teachers.

“I have so many role models in my life,” she said. “My parents taught me that love and kindness are most important.”

Murray is selling CDs for $10 each, although she won’t get rich by hawking them. She has decided to give back to where it all started. All sales will be donated to the community theater.

“The community theater was like a starting point,” Gomes said. “It was the spearhead of her creativity.”

Other than writing poetry and making music, Teresa works at McQuade’s Marketplace and takes classes at the Community College of Rhode Island. She enjoys walking around town, blogging and playing the guitar. She has been playing guitar for more than 10 years at her church.

“I like guitar the best,” she said. “It relaxes me.”

Although Murray now has a professionally produced music album to go along with her published collection of poems, she knows there is much more to learn about the industries.

“I have been very steadfast on my thirst for knowledge,” she said. “I did some poetry workshops that were listed in the paper. That helped me educate myself further.”

Murray’s next endeavor is to start her own talk radio show that can be podcast on a You- Tube channel. Earlier this month, Murray was a guest on Deb Ruggiero’s radio show. The state representative from Jamestown hosts “Amazing Women,” a program that celebrates the work of women in Rhode Island.

“The community has my back,” Murray said. “I’m not afraid to step out of my comfort zone.”

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