You are more than labels. Aitina Fareed-Cooke knows that better than anyone. As a little girl in the foster care system, Aitina was stamped with the “failure to thrive” label—one that many people thought meant that her life was destined to go down only one type of path. Yet God’s intervention came in the form of an adoptive mother, a passion for creating and storytelling through music and art, and an unplanned pregnancy. All of these moments shaped her into the person she needed to be, helping her to celebrate her privileges in order for her to come alongside the next generation of creatives who carry the same labels she did, so they too can choose the opportunities that define them.

Guest Bio:

Aitina Fareed-Cooke was told at a young age that she would be a “failure to thrive” as a result of her biological mother’s addiction to drugs. But despite being labeled emotionally handicapped by the system, Aitina refused to be defined by it. Instead, she found solace and empowerment through her faith in God and her voice within the creative arts, rewriting her own narrative.

Aitina now serves as a creative arts strategist, national recording artist, and founder of Get Fokus’d Productions (GFP), an award-winning media arts production company that has been recognized for its exceptional work within the community of Buffalo, New York. Get Fokus’d Productions is a company in which creatives partner together to capture ‘human-first’ stories, a method that prioritizes empathy and connection. In collaboration with a collection of creatives, and through the mentorship of emerging artists, Aitina amplifies community voices using a social design approach, creating a ripple effect of positivity within the creative arts.

She earned her BA in English and MS in education at Buffalo State University and currently serves as a foundation board member, utilizing her educational experiences as a mechanism to forge her own creative path.

Her musical career has led her to executive produce four full-length albums and collaborate with Grammy Award–winning artists, resulting in an impressive collective stream count of over 1 million through distribution services. Aitina’s remarkable accomplishments have firmly established her as a beacon of inspiration and a catalyst for positive transformation within the creative arts industry.

Notes & Quotes:

  • “These are tools that I can use to showcase … the truth and what I believe, which is, you know, at the end of the day, [that] God is agape love, unconditional love. All of these different moments and things that happen in my life, utilizing the creative arts, is an opportunity to share that.”
  • “The more that I learned about love through the gospel, the more that I put people in my circle that had love for themselves, for God, and for me. The more that I learned from that circle of individuals, the more it led me to understanding, I love me.”
  • “I don’t have to accept the chains. I’m literally free. There’s freedom in Christ. Freedom in this space of creativity or whatever the case is. I have this freedom and ability. Now what do I do?”
  • “You come from a creative being who created you. We all have. That’s privilege. Period.”

Links Mentioned:

  • Full episode transcript
  • Learn more about Aitina’s work with production company Get Fokus’d Productions.
  • Listen to Aitina’s song “Privilege” off the Juneteenth: Faith & Freedom deluxe soundtrack on Spotify, or watch the full music video on YouTube.
  • Follow Aitina on Instagram.
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  • Tell us how much you love Where Ya From? by rating us five stars and leaving us a review.
  • Check out VOICES from Our Daily Bread Ministries.
  • Follow VOICES on Instagram.

Verses Mentioned:

  • Genesis 50:15–21
  • Romans 8:14–15