Halifax’s Keonte Beals aims to inspire youth with book

Everything that North Preston singer, songwriter and author Keonte Beals does, he does with a sense of giving back.

“I always felt this way,” admits the award-winning R&B artist whose very first song was a cover version of I’m Here from the soundtrack of the film, The Color Purple. “I guess I have always just had that sense of wanting to help and I wanted to create change that’s healthy and that for me, the impact is the main thing (and) to make a difference along the way.”

Now, less than a decade since releasing his first single, Beals has amassed a ton of critical acclaim, an East Coast Music Award for R&B recording of the year and no less than three wins and eight Music Nova Scotia award nominations for his 2020 album, King.

In fact, his talents extend well beyond the world of music. In 2021, he paired up with his brother and wrote and published an inspiring children’s book aimed at empowering kids titled, I Am Perfectly Me.

“I was no good at writing songs in the beginning. It took some time,” laughs Beals, who says he actually began writing children’s literature before he ever put the lyrics down at 14-years-old for his first song — an earnest tune titled, Get Yourself in Order.

Even at that tender age, Beals was focused on spreading messages of love and hope.

“Everything that I create has to do with my life and a lot of those different things,” recalls Beals. “Honestly, for me, I’m somebody that when I start to create anything, I go back to my thoughts as a child and the things I wanted to see and the things I wanted to feel.”

Now, Beals has released his second children’s book in the “I Am” series. Based partly on some of the messages from his hit 2021 album, the book I Am King aims to inspire and help youth in Black communities and everywhere deal with identity and the stigma of toxic masculinity.

“I feel like the album is topical in a lot of different ways,” says Beals. “There are a lot of messages in there about love and of course other things too — serious topics — and I just wondered what it would look like, what it would feel like to have the same messages inside of kid’s hand, of a child’s hand.”

Born and raised in North Preston, Beals began his young career as a teen singing in churches and finding mentors and strength in the community. That early support showed him that giving back is an integral part of not only growing your career, but also growing as a human.

With his latest children’s book, he hopes that young readers will learn the same lesson.

“I always wanted to see somebody who looks like me inside of a book. I didn’t have those things when I was growing up (and) I wanted to give kids of this generation the opportunity to do that — but the messages in here are for everybody.”

For more information on I Am King, visit Keonte Beals website at: www.kebe.ca

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