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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Gainesville musician aims to raise funds for Zimbabwe through new EP

Schachter will perform at Swamp Head Brewery Thursday

Seneca Schachter has considered himself a musician since high school, when he fell in love with the art of rhyming and began to compose songs. Now, the Gainesville native confidently adds another word to his title: activist. 

Schachter, 40, released “WORK TO DO,” the lead single off his upcoming EP, Jan. 29. The five-song project is titled “Liberate” and was created in collaboration with Douglas “9th Audio” Katehwe, a Zimbabwean producer.

“WORK TO DO” was released in conjunction with a GoFundMe campaign run by Schachter to raise funds for Katehwe’s family and SOS Children’s Village Zimbabwe, a nonprofit that provides support for orphaned children in Zimbabwe.

“I had a goal that I wanted to change the world, that I wanted to help people, that I wanted to be a voice for change,” Schachter said. “Looking back, I now realize that any sort of privilege that I have, I wanted to use that privilege for good.”

The son of holistic health practitioners, Schachter tapped into his empathetic side at a very young age — but it wasn’t until high school that he began his musical journey, composing songs with a “socially conscious direction.”

Having been heavily inspired by CYNE, an alternative hip-hop group from Gainesville, Schachter began to perform for audiences throughout the city around 2000, with his first show taking place at  local concert venue Full Circle.

It was after that performance that Schachter truly recognized the value of the local community. Wanting to broaden his horizons, he moved his talents to California.

California welcomed him with plenty of opportunities, Schachter said. 

From starting with his first group, Shadow Cast, and joining the Jazz Mafia to touring with  52-piece hip-hip symphony Brass, Bows & Beats, Schachter accomplished almost all of the goals that he set out to achieve, he said.

“I didn’t make a ton of money doing music, but I learned the hard way that success, for me, wasn’t about money,” Schachter said. “It was about building a community. It was about pushing the boundaries of my own abilities and challenging myself.”

Schachter hasn’t just focused on music throughout his career. When he first moved to California, he spent about eight years raising money for various nonprofit organizations.

Dave Schwirtz, a 42-year-old event consultant based in California and friend of Schachter, remembers his first encounter with the musician at a rap battle in the Bay Area shortly after Schachter moved to the East Coast. 

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While other musicians were dissing each other on stage, Schachter spent most of his time on the microphone talking about the Iraq War, Schwirtz said.

“Passion is the word I would use for Seneca,” he said. “Even going back to that battle, where I first saw him in 2003, there was passion there.”

Schachter’s current project reflects the very passion Schwirtz describes — something especially evident in the fundraiser Schacter is running for his stepfather’s home country.

Schachter met his stepfather, Timothy-John Grainger-Rousseau, at the age of 13. Grainger-Rousseau, a 62-year-old pharmacist, grew up in Zimbabwe until he eventually left for graduate school.

Grainger-Rousseau taught Schachter much about his homeland, culture and music, Schachter said. He educated Schachter on the corruption that plagues Zimbabwe, leaving many of his family members without running water and with defective electricity.

“Knowing that family members live in a much different situation, I realized that I have to pick up the torch and carry that torch of change and of equality,” Schachter said.

Schachter is doing precisely that through his ongoing GoFundMe campaign, Grainger-Rousseau said. 

“I feel really proud that he’s taken on that mission to fundraise for the organization, as well as to make his mark in the country that is my origin,” he said.

Schachter’s current musical and philanthropic venture is a living testament to the work that must be done to help each other as one global family, he said.

“If I died tomorrow, this campaign would represent my legacy: helping out those that need it and using the music…as a tool to motivate people to get to work,” Schachter added. “Why? Because we’ve got ‘work to do.’”

Schachter will be returning to Gainesville to host an event — affectionately titled “Family Reunion” — at Swamp Head Brewery Thursday. The reunion will serve as promotion for the campaign and as a celebration of the upcoming release of his EP.

The event will include a comedy show, a Tai Chi demonstration by Schachter’s biological father and a concluding performance of hip-hop and reggae music by Schachter and other fellow Gainesville musicians.

Contact Amanda at Follow her on Twitter @amandacrubio.

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Amanda Rubio

Amanda Rubio is a first-year journalism student at the University of Florida and an Avenue staff writer at the Alligator. When she isn’t writing, you’ll probably find her reading romance novels; binge-watching Glee, which she’s watched an unnecessary amount of times; or somehow finding more ways to make Harry Styles her entire personality.

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