Janesville artist behind music with a message for local school

JANESVILLE, Wis. (WMTV) -- A local artist is behind music with a positive message for students at Kennedy Elementary School in Janesville.

When Michele Schroeder, a paraprofessional at Kennedy, got a song stuck in her head this summer, she wondered if somehow the elementary school could use the power of music to welcome students back for the new school year.

Schroeder went to the principal, Jennifer Fanning, with the idea.

"So Michele came to me and said, I have this great idea," said Fanning. Schroeder began thinking about who she knew in the music industry, and quickly remembered her son's friend, Jonathan Benish.

"Music can speak to you, I know music spoke to me, everybody I hang around, music speaks to them," said Benish, who performs under the name Tha Mid City Kid. "If you bring that positive message with that popular thing like music, it's got to be good for the soul."

Benish said he's been writing and recording his own music since he was a teenager, mostly writing hip hop music. He grew up in the Janesville public school system, and knew when the opportunity came about, he wanted to help.

"I know when I was a kid that age, if I listened to a song, I could learn a lot more from that than reading a book," he said.

Benish said he worked with Schroeder, who had ideas for what popular songs could feature in what was to be "The Kennedy Anthem." From there, Benish pulled inspiration for the new lyrics from the school itself, and the messages and lessons the school hoped to teach students.

"If you put your mind to it, you can be the best," Benish rapped. "As long as you try you will find your success."

With the song written, Benish and his friends, with whom he produces his music, filmed a music video featuring the teachers of Kennedy Elementary School dancing along to the anthem.

For Fanning, seeing Benish's dedication to the community was rewarding.

"Not only is the message in their lyrics, but it's in their actions, and what they do, and what they give back to their community, which is pretty incredible to witness and be a part of," she said.

Benish said he hopes the anthem inspires not only the elementary schoolers with its positive messaging, but the community as a whole. Benish also said his first full album will be coming out by the end of 2019.