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Behind the Mask

After the successful launch of 20 Seconds or More and 20 Segundos o Más, our high-impact music video PSAs that have become global anthems and rallying cries in the fight against COVID-19, today we’re launching Behind the Mask – an original new song and music video designed to increase the use of face masks as an effective means of stopping the spread of the coronavirus. At the time of this launch, COVID-19 cases have exceeded 5 million in the United States alone and the virus continues to disproportionately affect communities of color. Wearing a mask has been proven to reduce the spread of coronavirus and one study from the University of Washington showed that if 95% of the public wear masks, we could avoid approximately 34,000 more deaths by October 1, 2020.

Behind the Mask was written by multi-platinum composer Quennel Worthy, and features Grammy®-nominated vocalist Raheem DeVaughn, backed by Grammy®-winning rapper Darryl DMC McDaniels from Run-DMC and the iconic rapper and HHPH Co-Founder, Doug E. Fresh with medical oversight by Dr. Olajide Williams, Co-Founder of Hip Hop Public Health and Chief of Staff, Department of Neurology, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

The song and music video is based on Dr. Olajide Williams and his research scientist, Dr. Ewelina Swierad’s Multisensory Multilevel Health Education Model (Williams O. & Swierad, 2019) proven to promote behavior change and focuses on proper mask-wearing techniques while incorporating culturally tailored, personalized themes of unity, love and hope. The main theme of Behind the Mask is love – how our actions or inactions can dangerously impact those we love, and how, from behind the mask, we are promoting community and neighborhood health, while protecting and saving the lives of our loved ones and those with whom we interact daily. The music video PSA features guest appearances by prominent and everyday New Yorkers – artists, public health experts, religious and civic leaders, athletes, media personalities, entertainers and families, all wearing masks or demonstrating proper donning, doffing, and storing for reuse techniques.

Participants include author and poet Jacqueline Woodson, rappers Niko Brim and Rob Base, radio host Sasha the Diva, NY Jets player James Burgess and family, Broadway legend Irene Gandy, award-winning broadcaster Cheryl Wills, touring DJ and Producer Dee Wiz, music executive Sal Abbatiello, virologist Dr. Angela Rasmussen, researchers Luisa Gomez Chan and Dr. Ewelina Swierad, Devorah Halberstam who is one of the founders of the Jewish Children’s Museum, OPEN Executive Director Aaron Hart and his family, The Crown Heights Collectives’ Richard Green and Executive Director of the NYC Department of Education’s Public Schools Athletic League Donald Douglas. Also featured are NYPD Chief of Community Affairs Jeffrey B. Maddrey, NYPD First Deputy Commissioner Benjamin Tucker, Deputy Special Agent in Charge of NY Homeland Security Investigations Rick J. Patel, and religious leaders such as Imam Konate who leads the Masjid Aqsa-Salam Mosque in Harlem, Rabbi Michael Melnicke, The Sikh Cultural Society’s Gurdiv Singh Kang, Executive Vice President of New York Board of Rabbis Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Rev. A.R. Bernard from the Christian Cultural Center, NYPD Buddhist Clergy Liaison, Bishop Angelo M. Rosario and Bishop Nancy Rosario from the Bronx Clergy Taskforce, reverend and clinical therapist Qalvy Grainzvolt M.S, MHC-LP, Rabbi Steven Grossman and Executive Director of the Interfaith Center of New York Rev. Chloe Breyer. Other guests include Holly Mendenhall, David Rodriguez, Alex Maclin, Lola Williams, Toby Williams, Milo Zohir Benameur, Ella Kushnick, Helen Shelton, Alex Lipowec, Lauren Perez, along with the Larkin, Rivera-Ezeta, Pliner-Bloom, Joseph, Post, Rausch, Schnabel and Tumbarello families. Some of you may also recognize Dr. Olajide Williams, Lori Rose Benson, Maibe Ponet, Tony Drootin, Eric Pliner, Saju Joseph, Andrew Post and Patrice Webb from Hip Hop Public Health.