Passion, Purpose and Beats

Interview with Brian Henry | DJ B-Hen| Founder, Beats to Beat Breast Cancer

Portrait: Tom Kubik

Brian Henry, otherwise known as DJ B-Hen, is a global citizen who’s on a mission to spread love and light through music. After making a dramatic shift from working his way up the corporate ladder at Verizon to teaching himself to DJ, Brian is an advocate for a purpose-filled life and a warrior against breast cancer, particularly among women of color.

Brian is also one of the most genuine people out there, constantly inspiring and connecting others via music and using his gifts for good. He is the ultimate example of following his dream and aligning his passion, purpose and gifts to bring good into the world.

What superpower would you want?

I think I already possess the superpower and that is the ability to touch, move and inspire people via music. Music is the strongest form of touch, and I have the ability to emotionally touch others in a way that is very unique. It’s the perfect marriage of all things that really draw out emotions that we don’t often allow ourselves to feel. That is why music is so powerful.

I’ve learned that I’m blessed with this gift because I won’t abuse it.

What is your personal mantra or motto right now?

My personal mantra is to live a life of passion and purpose that creates value not only for myself but also for others. In all things that you do, do your best to create value for others and the universe will respond in-kind.

I offer that up to people who are perplexed about what their passion is or how to pursue their passion and be financially stable. If you solely focus on your intention, your ‘why’ for what you’re doing and if your ‘why’ for what you’re doing creates value for others, then money will be the least of your concern. You will always be taken care of, and I wish more people understood that.

Where are you from?

I’m from Baltimore, Maryland, and to add to that — I’m a military brat, so I’ve literally lived across the globe both growing up with my family and on my own. I’m a creature of the Earth.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

Share a moment in your life that made you passionate about making the world a better place?

I completed a program called Momentum Education. It’s like a mirror that’s been placed in front of your face — a life workshop where you face the miseducation of who you are and reintroduce yourself to yourself, free of all of the stories that don’t align with your true self. We often walk through life with all of these stories and baggage, so the whole intent of this program is to operate from a blank space, because from a blank space you have the opportunity and possibility for anything.

Within the program we had an intense session and there was a young lady who, because of her cultural background and having been molested, was unable to move. She could move physically, but she was unable to express herself in a way that was creative. We had a challenge to dance and she simply could not move. In her subconscious mind, any gyration would welcome unwanted attention, thus reliving the trauma of her youth. We sat in the session for over an hour and nothing we said worked until I played and encouraged her with music. That’s when she had a breakthrough, and that’s when I realized how much music matters — how much I matter.

Before that I never fully experienced my inner power. I would simply say that I’m a DJ. However, the ability to touch, move and inspire people to eliminate their insecurities, fears, and traumas, by loving on them with music was very eye-opening. In that moment, I broke all the way down — I mean those nasty, sobby tears. In that moment I realized how important this gift is and how important it is for me to share.

In her challenge, I became very clear to me as to why I exist.

Patrons of Progress is all about showcasing people who are using their influence for good. What does “doing good” mean to you?

Doing good is being selfless. Doing good is wanting your fellow man to be empowered to live their best life. It goes back to what I was saying earlier about creating value for others. Whether I’m giving a lecture, DJ’ing a set, working on my foundation — whatever it is, or whatever actions I do, I remember “it’s not just about me”.

I’m the vessel by which this gift flows, but I don’t own it; rather it was given it to me to share. The best way to love others is to encourage and motivate them through your actions, through your ways of being, through your example, and they too can live the life of their dreams.

If you could choose one word to describe yourself, what would it be and why?

My one word would be eclectic. The dictionary version reads “having ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources” and that is my life. I’ve been blessed to have experiences that are so vast and so different.

When I tell people I don’t DJ every week, and that I don’t have a residency, they’re always surprised. It’s because my life, my career, my presence is an aggregation of inconsistencies, and for most people inconsistencies and ambiguity drive a level of discomfort that they just couldn’t handle, but I really enjoy the diversity of life. I really enjoy being one day in Toronto and the next day in the south of France, or in the course of a few weeks being able to travel to several different cities. In each city I infuse myself with the local culture and learn what makes people different, but also what draws us all together.

Experiencing so many things within a short time frame has made me who I am today; eclectic and multifaceted. I’m not a one layer type of guy.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

What sparked your interest and passion to get involved with fighting breast cancer through DJing ?

The name our non-profit is Beats to Beat Breast Cancer and the meaning is simple — we all march to the beat of our own respective drums, so let’s gather our beats and use those beats to beat breast cancer. Whether you’re a veterinarian, an entertainer, or someone who cleans skyscraper windows; we all have a unique talent or gift that creates value for others. If we aggregate all of our unique abilities we can make a huge difference in breast cancer awareness, prevention, and research.

I was personally affected by breast cancer when my mom, Tracy, passed after a 14-month battle with breast cancer. She she was only 35 years old. It was a very devastating and tragic experience for my family, but what I’ve learned is that through all tragedies we can triumph. I’m certain that’s why I am actively involved in my passion in my career…because I understand and realize how precious and short life is.

If I’m to have air in my lungs, if I’m still here on this earth, then I must do everything in my power to live a life of passion and purpose. It’s not meant for me to do something very traditional where I’m not honoring myself or the gifts that I’ve been blessed with. So when I understood that music can touch, move and inspire people, I asked how can I integrate music into an area of life that I’ve been adversely affected and how can I create value in that space to ensure that more women, particularly women of color, don’t have to face the same devastating outcome of losing their lives.

What I’ve found is that we have tons of breast cancer research and awareness organizations, but unfortunately those funds don’t always trickle down to communities of color, as much as they should. African American women die from an alarmingly high rate of breast cancer than other cultures; quite often because black women tend to love on everyone else first before they love on themselves. From their sons, daughters, husbands, grandmas, aunties, etc, women of color are some of the most nurturing people on this earth. So, the Beats to Beat Breast Cancer gives an opportunity for us to flip the script and hold the mirror in front of the women that we love, and say “hey I’m here for you today, I’m here for you not just today but throughout the entire year, what can I do to be of service to you and help you beyond and along the lines of preventive measures to ensure that this disease doesn’t adversely affect your life.”

It also drives awareness to those who think this is something that just 50+ year olds get, because it’s actually affecting those as young as eighteen years old too. Every year, every October, I gather my celebrity DJ friends; we host an event in LA, to drive awareness on diet, health, and breast cancer prevention. We also make it a day of celebration — it’s not a somber day by any means, instead we want to celebrate life and what better way to do that than through music.

What do you hope our readers will gain from your story?

I hope they read my story and realize, “I matter, I have worth.” It’s something that exists on the mental, spiritual, and emotional planes, and I hope that in seeing a light within me, it sparks the light within them to live the life of their dreams.

Resources and technology aside, if you could make one remarkable change in the world by 2020, what would it be?

I would get Trump out of office by 2020.

Share something that you’ve learned along the way, whether it’s one piece of advice or an experience that has helped guide you in your journey?

There are so many ways I can answer this question, but what matters most is integrity. Integrity for me simply means an alignment between your thoughts, your words and your deeds. So often we are unable to believe in ourselves because we don’t operate from a place of integrity. If you think it, then say it, if you say it, then do it. Once we as a people, as a global culture, align ourselves with the voice that speaks to us from within and take action; then we’ll be able to create value for all of mankind.

To see your dreams come to fruition, you must operate from a strong place of integrity and know that you matter.

Portrait: Tom Kubik

Follow Patrons of Progress on Instagram @curiositylab

Concept + Production by London Wright-Pegs, Michael Tennant + Meghan Holzhauer // Interview by London Wright-Pegs // Portraits by Tom Kubik