“We're all about changing the way medical information is delivered,” Dr. Kiki Hurt, founder of the media company Global Music 4 Life, tells EBONY.com. Dr. Hurt is a Brooklyn-based internist, an anesthesiologist and a critical care physician who has found yet another way to provide medical care to the masses: music.
Inspired by watching School House Rock on Saturday mornings as a kid and tired of seeing people die from preventable illnesses, Dr. Hurt decided to produce songs and animated videos to promote healthy living and to educate listeners on the symptoms of various diseases and ailments, from heart attacks and asthma to breast cancer and HIV.
She collaborates with producers and song writers from every genre with a goal of creating songs that everybody can enjoy, from adults to children, hip-hop heads to country music lovers. Her latest song is “Ultimate Wealth,” a remix of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’s “Empire State of Mind,” and emphasizes being in good health, through diet and exercise, as being more valuable than money.
“Most people say they like a song because of the beat more than the lyrics,” she says, “but when you keep hearing the lyrics over and over again, hopefully you get our message and we can save a life.”
Dr. Hurt’s media company was born from the tragic loss of the one life she was not able to save, her 45-year-old aunt. After a two-week illness, her aunt died from a ruptured gall bladder and even the doctors who were caring for her aunt didn’t recognize what was happening before it was too late.
“It just hurt me to my heart. Of 12 kids, that was my grandmother’s baby and she had to watch her die. That inspired me even more to teach people when to go to the doctor, and to learn that things as simple as chewing aspirin may by you some time.”
Raised by her great-grandmother in the projects of a very small town in Tennessee, Dr. Hurt knew she was meant to do more than work in the local Tupperware factory or the cotton fields, but the odds were stacked against her. “I graduated with the highest G.P.A. in my high school but was not allowed to be valedictorian because I was Black. I knew I wanted to be a doctor [from watching General Hospital], but it’s amazing how little I knew [about how to get there]. I didn’t know about the SATs, I didn’t know about Black colleges or even how to apply to college. No one showed me how to fill out a financial aid application. It was just God who kept guiding me and I just kept ending up in the right places and talking to the right people.”
After high school she moved up to Chicago where her half-sister lived and ended up homeless. “That’s how I learned to survive and how to feed myself. I never did anything illegal on those streets because God always looked out for me. He made sure I was safe and no one attacked me while I was on the streets. I’d be homeless for awhile and then a friend would get an apartment and I would stay with her.
"Then, I ended up enrolling at the University of Illinois, Chicago, went on to medical school, still did two fellowships and all I had was discrimination to worry about. But I was always taken care of. I have never ever needed for anything. So that's what keeps me going, even in this mission now with Global Music 4 Life, because God always watched over me."
And now GlobalMusic4Life is taking off. Her songs have been played more than 300,000 times and will be featured in a dance "Battle for Life" on November 16 at the Kaye Playhouse where teams of kids ages 8-14 will compete for $1,000 with 10% of proceeds going to continuing health educating for kids. "It's just another great way of getting people [especially young people] to listen to the music and start paying attention to their bodies and getting in shape."
For Dr. Hurt, the music is just another extension of her healing ministry. When she's at the hospital, she says, "I always have my cross [necklace] on and that is comforting to some of my patients to know that I am a Christian.I don’t know if they're going to live or die but I know that whatever is happening, He's got my back and I've got your back, so we're all good. I'm not the person really working, it's my higher power who works in me. I'm just happy to be used."