FLINT, Michigan — Cherisse Bradley was born into a life of singing and dancing. Her voice took her from coast to coast, performing with some of the best in the business.
But, it wasn’t until 2013 that Bradley truly found her voice, sharing publicly her own story of sexual abuse and survival. Encouraged by a friend, she took an unconventional approach to healing — turning her pain into art with what is now an annual “I Found My Voice” event honoring survivors of sexual and domestic violence through a night of powerful music, dance and healing.
“I wanted to take back my power and create something for myself,” she says.
What began as an event to honor survivors of sexual and domestic abuse quickly turned into a way to harness victims’ voices and turn them into art. The evening includes headline stars as well as local survivors who choose to step onto the stage as part of their own cathartic journey to find their voices.
Bradley works with victims through the YWCA and the Odyssey House and also holds workshops for months before the concert to help survivors create performance pieces for the event.
Bradley again calls Flint home, but even while performing on the national stage, she regularly returned home for more than a decade as a cofounder and performer in her family’s nonprofit tap festival, Tapology.
“I wasn’t looking to move back to Flint or start anything like this, but I know this is where I’m supposed to be,” Bradley says.
Now in its fifth year, Bradley took a leap of faith and moved the event from the theatre at the University of Michigan-Flint, where in its first year the 400 seats sold out, to the newly renovated Capitol Theatre — hoping to sell 800 seats and help as many survivors as she can.
“I want to erase the stigma of being a victim because it makes it harder to come out sooner,” says Bradley, who hopes to someday be able to turn this local event into a national tour.
The show is 7 p.m. Sept. 28, 2018, at the Capital Theatre in downtown Flint. Expect to hear the music of Aretha Franklin, MC Lyte, Mary J Blige, Tina Turner and more from top tier performers including Flint native and “American Idol” contestant LaKisha Jones, “The Voice” finalist Kimberly Nichole, and local legend Mama Sol. Tickets still can be purchased in advance at The Whiting box office for $25 or $30 at the door.