BILOXI -- Cassandra Johnson describes herself as a songwriter, rapper, promoter and dance coach, and her small business is about sharing her passion for music and performance with kids.
As an entrepreneur and owner of Sandz Music Productions, she gained expertise at the Innovation Center in Biloxi. Her experience began when she performed in every talent show she could growing up, and was fueled by the late B.B. King. She sneaked into Tony's Hip Hop in Moss Point to see King perform when she was 17. "He danced with me," she said, and he told her she was fabulous.
"I love dancing and singing," she said, and now she is passing along that inspiration to the kids to whom she teaches hip-hop dance.
She charges for lessons to prepare the kids for the free dance shows they put on for the community at Hiller Park. People volunteer to barbecue and everyone eats together after the show, she said.
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Generally about 10 kids ages 7-16 perform at a show.
Jamiah Levins, 12, is one of her students.
"I always loved to dance," Jamiah said, and two years ago when her dance coach moved, she started working with Johnson. The other girls in the program came with her and join the performances at Hiller Park.
Johnson will be performing in May at a music production in Waveland, while continuing to focus on her students.
"I like to get kids off the streets and keep them out of trouble," she said.