Recently inducted into the National Association for Professional Women, This angelic and poetic songstress comes by way of the Bronx, New York. Vibrant and complete in spirit she has been singing since the tender age of 4. Early on she shared notes with her mom and was influenced by the sounds of Anita Baker, Etta James, Faith Evans, Sam Cooke, Dianne Warren, David Foster and Patti Labelle. Furthering her passion to be a part of the musical universe she participated and tested her abilities in talent shows during her junior and high school years. Possessing a raw determination to get it done, she then proceeded to work on her talents and creating her own mold. As part of her determination to advance she has obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication.
She made it an inner promise to accomplish her aspirations with the untimely departure of her Mother and this past June 2008 her Father, who both always inspired her through music. She has concentrated on her creative vision in songwriting and honing her craft as a vocalist. Well aware that it requires a relentless, dedicated approach in the music industry she has made every effort to elevate her momentum in anyway. She has managed to establish relationships with some reputable talents of today like Multi-talented Wyclef Jean and Producer Younglord with them providing her with feasible insight and direction.
Senyah has remained in the loop in anyway where it can provide her with some form of experience and development whether it is through vocal training to being an extra. In 1998, she actively partook as an extra in the movie “Stuart Little 2”, Marci X featuring Damon Wayans and KC and Jo-Jo’s “All My Life” video. She has also participated as a background vocalist for upcoming artist Mary C. She was most recently cast as “Emma Jackson” in the Off Broadway play “The Sanctuary” written, produced and directed by Anne L. Thompson Stretching. With understanding that one step has to be manifested at a time she also has aspirations on acting and doing the big screen in her career travels. Currently, Senyah is working on her self-written catalogue of music that she hopes to present and make a profound impact to the musical universe through it. She proclaims as a personal quote that “Nothing in life is free, hard work pays off and you must have complete Faith in yourself and in God. With that all things are possible”.
Through all of her personal struggles and experiences she founded the non-profit organization Determined to Educate, Inc. Founder and CEO, Senyah Baah has made a commitment to herself to help those who are less fortunate and need a helping hand. She was inspired by her parents Victoria (Adwoa) and Frank (Kwame) Baah, who have both been called by the Lord. She has promised to continue their legacy by believing in those and helping those to believe in themselves.
What birthed the idea of Determined to Educate (DTE)?
One day I sat at my computer at work and was thinking of all of the issues that people I knew had and even I had. Issues that bothered me and even caused people so much pain. It was a familiar song. There is so much selfishness going around and I said, “Wow, does anyone not care about anyone besides themselves?” Who wants to live like that when life is so precious and short. I wanted to do something or say something to have people recognize that this is not the way we should be living. I know I couldn’t change anyone, but I knew that I could have people thinking in better ways. Then I started typing subjects/issues that needed to be addressed on my computer. I wanted to see how the message could get across and I remembered how much I loved the t-shirts made by “School of the Hard Knocks”. Those shirts always had some kind of word or sentence that stood out to me.
Talk to us about Determined to Educate; what is its mission?
Determined To Educate, Inc. was established to re-invent community. I walk the streets and see that there is no more community. People aren’t helping each other out and everyone is basically staying to themselves. I didn’t grow up like that. It bothers me to see that. I want this organization to bring back the importance of the old educating the young and the young helping the old. We have created two entities which are “Better Man University” and “Better Woman University”. We will be coming out with our third entity mid-summer called “Young Gift Academy” for children ages 22 and under. It’s an intergenerational concept.
What programs and services do you offer through DTE?
We have developed an interactive website. The website is designed to interact with patrons who visit the site. There are a team of “professors” on the site that will give insight on issues that evolve in our communities. These “professors” are not accredited “professors” but “professors” that have lived through these issues. You as the patron will be able to ask a question, give a comment or tell a personal story after each lecture. We do not post derogatory comments. We are working to promote a positive state of mind. Right now to register patrons click on the “admissions” section on the top right corner of the page. We are currently working on the back end of the site so that people will be able to sign in with their email addresses.
I talked with you recently about DTE and your goals, and I love that this vision you have is community-based. We talked a lot about back in the day and how important it is to have that community involvement in an individual's life. Why do you think we have fallen away from that mentality?
I bring the word “selfish” up again because that is indeed what some of us have become. We don’t remember that “Bernadine” on the 7th floor has 3 kids and is a single mom and may need help with the kids tonight because it gets overwhelming. We forget that “Mr. Jenkins” in the next building lost his wife a few years ago and may want company this afternoon just to talk about the old days or current events. Situations like that, we fail to look at. I feel its time we open our eyes.
Why do you think community involvement is so vital to this project?
I feel that this organization can bring that “GOOD” part of life back into the community. You don’t need money to help your neighbor. All you need is time, patience, KNOWLEDGE and a smile. I know it’s not easy but it is possible. If we can’t come together in our own community and teach ourselves and others better ways of life, we are headed for destruction within ourselves. It’s a cold world out there.
How can people get involved in DTE?
People can log on to the site and read the lectures that we are giving. We have already held a face to face Men’s forum for “Better Man University” and a face to face Women’s forum for “Better Woman University”. Beginning this winter we will be looking for volunteers. Those who wish to volunteer for different events that we have, there will be a posting on the site on how people can get involved on different projects coming up in Winter of 2009.
How do you plan to expand DTE in the future?
We just had our First Annual Book Donation Drive benefiting senior citizens in nursing homes as well as children and adults rehibilating from physical sicknesses in Harlem, NY. We raised over 150 books! At the present time we are based in New York. I’d like to open up a facility in Harlem, NY where we can have more face to face forums and have programs for children. We are actually working on getting a couple of projects started for “Young Gift Academy”. I’d also like to expand to other parts of the country and eventually other parts of the world. We are working on having a one year anniversary fundraiser at the end of the year for Determined To Educate, Inc and much much more…so stay tuned Folks!!
Any last comments you'd like to make?
I’d like to thank everyone that has been supporting the organization and the movement and welcome those who are unaware to log on to our website to find out more about us. Another special shout out to James Watson who designs our website. He does such a phenomenal job and gives great input to the organization. My COO, Donald Baah and brother for his amazing drive at such a young age, My staff and team of “Professors” that volunteer their time and words of wisdom. I would also like to thank everyone who attended/donated and those who helped at the Book Donation Drive and broke some sweat (Claudette, Grace, “Prof”, Shani Myers, Anthony, Janine, Rahman, Owen and family, “Prof”.Jaimie Jennings, Chris, Justice, Maia, Earl, Mali, Cathy, Kimmy, Niko, Jaquan, Sidelle. “Prof” Jai, Earl Christian III and Alan from The Urban Wall Street Project – Thanks so much for all the hard work, it paid off!!!) and a special thank You to our sponsors, Tonnie's Minis in New York, New York (West Village) and Absolutely Creative Advertising in Brooklyn, New York. We are going to have our apparel line coming soon where you can make a donation by buying a t-shirt or other Determined To Educate, Inc. accessories. Proceeds will go to the programs which we support. Let’s give back people! This time it’s real and it’s important.
And I finally I want to thank you, Shon, for all of your help, support and taking the time with me for this interview and getting the word out as much as you can!