Current and former Monmouth University students are the featured artists a new album celebrating diversity and inclusion that debuted on June 30, 2021. Recorded and produced by Monmouth Artists for Diversity (MADI), this new collaborative effort emerged from Blue Hawk Records, Monmouth University’s student-run record label, and was supported by the Office of the Provost and the University’s Intercultural Center with a Diversity Innovation Grant (DIG).

The goal of the DIG initiative is to provide encouragement and financial support to members of the campus community who want to take an active role in the University’s shared commitment to promoting diversity and acceptance. Acting on the opportunity, Lawrence Jones, a former New Jersey Superior Court judge and adjunct professor of political science, approached Music & Theatre Department Chair Joe Rapolla about co-sponsoring a proposal to establish Monmouth Artists for Diversity & Inclusion (MADI) through DIG funding. Along with Rapolla and Jones, the faculty team also includes Rashida Cruz, an adjunct professor in the Music and Theatre Arts Department who teaches business of music and experiential learning music industry internship courses. Rapolla said the central idea of MADI is to evoke and inspire the imagination of the Monmouth University community in a way that promulgates diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness through music, spoken word, and art.  As part of this project, a diverse student advisory panel worked in close collaboration with the faculty team to oversee both the selection of music and the production of the MADI release, as well as related promotional activities.

“An important goal in creating MADI was to provide students with a forum for artistic expression and public commentary on critical social issues facing our nation today,” said Jones. “The University’s support has been invaluable to the process of helping to transform the idea of MADI into a reality, and as a result, students from different backgrounds came together to share their talents and personal experiences in a highly creative and educational way, and are now launching MADI’s amazing debut album,” he said. “It seems both serendipitous and entirely fitting that our faculty team heard the mixes for the first time on Juneteenth, during African American Music Appreciation Month,” Cruz said of the project. Rapolla said the entire Monmouth community, including students, alumni, employees, and friends, were invited to submit any work they felt was in solidarity with overall concept of celebrating diversity and inclusion through art. “The MADI team carefully deliberated over the pool of submissions, selecting songs that conveyed powerful and healing messages and met the requirements of the grant,” Rapolla said. Working within a compressed time frame, the MADI team met regularly to see that the songs were well-composed, produced and distributed, all while developing media assets for marketing and promotion. The final product includes five original works, including one remix and one spoken word, that will appear on the “MADI Volume One” compilation.

Joe Rapolla – Chair, Department of Music and Theatre Arts
Rashida Scott-Cruz – Adjunct Professor, Department of Music and Theatre Arts
Lawrence Jones – Adjunct Professor, Political Science
Ezrah Archie ’22
William “BJ” Biedbach ’21
Kendall Brighton ’22
Kayla Booker ’22
Hasan Chambers ’22
Ben Davis ’22
Michelle Etienne’ 22
Amanda Hayes ’24
Shadiyah Jai ’21
Connor Rupp’ 22
Vic Tartara ’22
Max Wolf ’22
Connor Hansan, Adjunct Professor, Department of Music and Theatre Arts

Limited Edition 10” vinyl available here:

Jenaé Louis-JacquesNo Different
Jenaé is a second-generation Jamaican-American singer, songwriter, and actress based in New Jersey. Since the age of three, Jenaé has been singing and has immersed herself in the world of performing arts ever since. She plays piano, trumpet and recently started teaching herself to play the ukulele. Currently attending Monmouth University as a dual major in Mathematics and Music Industry, Jenaé strives to use her talents as a tool to make a difference in her surrounding communities and hopes to one day be known as an artist who has successfully created a difference in the world.

Dillion SchindlerNever Shut Us Down
Dillon Schindler is an artist from Langhorne, PA. He is currently working towards a B.A. in Music Industry at Monmouth University. Dillon’s upcoming song “Never Shut Us Down” under Blue Hawk Records follows his independently released single “Dancing.” When he is not performing around Bucks County, PA, Dillon spends his time playing at the Jersey Shore. Venues include The Stone Pony, The Saint, Langosta Lounge, and Danny Clinch Transparent Gallery among others.

Shadiyah JaiSing Me to Sleep
Monmouth University Class of 2021 Alumni, Shadiyah Jai gracefully gifted the first MADI EP with her R&B ballad “Sing Me To Sleep.” Shadiyah Jai, the Georgia native, graduated Monmouth University with a BA in Music Industry and minor in Business Administration.

Emmanuel ChristianThe Bird that Dropped from the Nest
Born and raised in Newark, NJ, Emmanuel Christian is a poet and singer. The Monmouth University Senior is currently studying communications. Emmanuel loves Hip-hop, Soul, and R&B with his favorite artists being Ne-Yo, 6LACK, Nas, J. Cole, and Eminem.

“EQUAL” by Voice of Change – Remixed

Originally released in June 2020, the debut MADI EP features a remixed version of “Equal” by Voice Of Change.  This song features Monmouth University Students Dillon Schindler, Nicole Totland, Ezrah  Archie, Megan Rice, and Jenae Louis-Jacques. The single was originally released in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement.


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