There was a point in time in the not too distant past where Teah Bailey realized that if he did not change his ways, he was going to lose everything that mattered most to him. He had descended deep into drug addiction, unsure as to whether or not he would emerge alive.
But like many other stories, this one too has a good ending, one filled with definitive proof that you can lift yourself out of any circumstance by surrounding yourself with the right people.
Born into a musical family in Halifax, Bailey was surrounded by music from the get go.
“My grandmother was a member of a three-piece Acapella Gospel group that travelled the Maritimes. I also had a couple of uncles with careers in music,” Bailey says.
His introduction to rap and hip-hop came courtesy of his cousin. Bailey wrote his first song around the time he was 12 years old but didn’t continue with music explicitly with the hopes of making it big. It was merely a way to connect with his friends.
“Music was something that I was doing for fun and nothing else. I definitely didn’t intend to pursue music as a career or anything of the such. Like a lot of teens, I was concerned with hanging out with my friends. It just so happened that we would often gather in a circle and lay down some rhymes.”
Given the association often made between musicians and drug use, Bailey’s addiction took hold at a time in his life after he had shifted his focus away from music.
“When I was growing up, a lot of people around me were selling drugs so it was something that was always present and available if I was looking to get into it,” he says. “It started with recreational use but became a part of a fast-paced lifestyle that seemed to encourage further use.”
Bailey says his wake-up call to the fact that he was a full-blown addict came courtesy of his wife.
“I had begun isolating myself in the basement. I would go to work, come home and then just stay down in the basement all evening. I wasn’t involved in any facet of life otherwise.
“My wife picked up on it rather quickly and told me in no uncertain terms that I was on the cusp of losing my family if I wasn’t willing to try to turn things around. She made me realize that I wasn’t isolating myself because I enjoyed the drug. I was in the throes of a full-blown addiction,” Bailey says.
It was at this time that Bailey turned his attention to God. After having the seeds of the Gospel planted in his life, Bailey set about altering his life course. He credits the Memramcook-based Teen Challenge rehab program as having given him the tools to overcome his addiction while also strengthening his relationship with Jesus. He says that the program gave him a sense of purpose that he hadn’t fully appreciated that he was missing.
“That program is seriously responsible for saving my life. Prior to having entered the Teen Challenge program, I felt there was no hope for me in life.”
Following his graduation from the program in 2011, Bailey took on the One8Tea moniker, a name representing the significant U-turn that he made to turn away from his past addictions in order to pursue spreading the word of God.
Not coincidentally, Bailey chose to call his latest album U-Turn as the ultimate proof that anyone can turn their lives around. Nominated for Rap Album of the Year at next month’s Covenant Awards, Bailey’s message is undoubtedly connecting with audiences.
Although the Christian music genre is most often associated with rock and pop acts like Switchfoot and Jars of Clay, Bailey says he loves the challenge of showing audiences that the Word of God comes in many different forms.
“We joke around a lot that showing the Word of God can be spread via hip-hop has become an almost personal challenge. There is nothing I love more than going into a place and upending people’s perceptions on what hip-hop can be. In general, I think the genre has a bad rap for what it can represent; it can really paint the pictures that dominate a lot of the lyrics.
“Hip-hop is my lifestyle, however. As much as the genre has the power to tear down kids and make them mess up, I want to show people that it also has the ability to lift people’s spirits,” he says.
A portion of the ticket sales for the One8Tea performance at the Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre on Sunday evening will be split between the Teen Challenge Atlantic organization and Equip Haiti, an organization dedicated to raising young leaders in that country.
What: One8Tea with special guests Nathan Maskery and Martine Kelsey
When: Sunday Nov. 2, 6:00 p.m.
Where: Moncton Wesleyan Celebration Centre, 945 St. George Blvd., Moncton
Tickets are $15. Advance tickets are available by phone at (506) 870-8344 and online at www.celebrationcentre.ca