When Madox “Madi” Dorsey went on her first tour earlier this year with musical partner Gabriella Leaphart, in the duo Gabby and Madi, she took along an anti-bullying message.
“I was bullied in pre-K,” says the fifteen-year-old, who just moved from Atlanta to Denver. “I have a soft spot for kids who have been bullied. It’s a topic we should be talking about and never disregard. A friend of mine was actually bullied over her skin tone.”
The tour took them to schools in Illinois, West Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia, to name a few places; she has yet to perform in the Denver area.
“We did seven schools in Chicago,” she says. “Every day was either one or two schools. We would perform and talk to the kids. We would sign autographs and pictures. We would talk to them and hug them. We have a song that helps bring confidence for people with not much confidence. They would always tell us our music helps them gain confidence. Our message is in our music, even if we don’t get to talk to the kids.”
Dorsey, who attended public school in years past, is now taking high school classes at Colorado Connections Academy, an online school that frees her up to pursue her musical dreams. She is traveling back and forth between Denver and Atlanta to shoot music videos and finish up a Gabby and Madi album. She and her mother are still settling into their new digs here.
“It’s not as hard as I thought it would be,” she says about their move to Denver. “Home school definitely helps. Hanging out with my friends is more difficult, but it’s life.”
Both girls previously performed in what Dorsey describes as an “urban girl group” called Pink Heart that received some airplay on Disney Radio with the album Super Cali. As Gabby and Madi, they have posted a sizable repertoire of music on YouTube.
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Dorsey says they came together through a music management company, but have developed a legitimate friendship as they've collaborated. That’s evident in a YouTube video in which the two argue over the merits of various candy bars. Dorsey hates Butterfingers. Leaphart is offended by that sentiment.
“She is really the yin to my yang,” Dorsey says. “If you meet her, she is very energetic. We perform in front of a lot of kids. They love the energy. She is a ball of energy, and I’m very chill. We get together very well. It’s a very good dynamic.”
Two of their songs, “Foot on the Gas” and “Runnin’ Through My Mind,” are getting airplay on NickMusic and B.E.T. Jams. Dorsey and Leaphart boast surprisingly sophisticated rap flows for a fifteen-year-old and a fourteen-year-old, respectively. While both tracks are trap-influenced and sit somewhere between hip-hop and R&B, Dorsey says the duo also veers into pop territory.
“As a group, we sound like a single artist: Kehlani,” she says. “It makes you dance, but it’s still very chill. We have songs like that. We have songs for all genres. We are trying to be out there so we can reach everyone.”
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Dorsey, who raps and sings, grew up listening to her parents' music — Earth, Wind & Fire, Stevie Wonder and Lauryn Hill; she hopes to record with Kehlani and win a Grammy award some day, either for her own music or for songwriting she does for other artists.
Dorsey also has aspirations to start a makeup and fashion line. She tells kids during performances to keep at the books, because without an education, their dreams might never be fulfilled. She says that if a music career doesn’t pan out for her, she sees herself earning a psychology degree and becoming a counselor of some sort.
“I love talking to people about their emotions,” she says. “That’s why music helps me. It helps my emotions. It’s like a diary. I love talking to people about how they are feeling.”
For more information, go to gabbyandmadi.com.