Be the best

Khari Burton


Used with permission from Guy Wang

“[By] being able to interact with a diverse group of students [and a] diverse group of people, I made lifelong friends, friends that I’m still friends with to this day,” Khari Burton said.

Bareen Abdulrahman, Managing Editor of Current Events

Khari Burton graduated from WHHS in 2013 and is now the owner of an entertainment company and a teacher at Rockdale Elementary, a future he never expected to have.

Burton played on the varsity basketball team from his freshman year through his senior year and continued playing basketball throughout his college years at Columbus State. After college, Burton left his basketball career, however not by choice.

After months of training for a Canadian basketball team, Burton recalls a talk he had with the head coach.

“On the last day, the coach called me into his office and he said, ‘we’re gonna go with another player, because you’re…’, basically what he said was I was too short, without saying I was too short. And I was like, you know, that’s cool,” Burton said.

After the harsh rejection, Burton decided to figure out the next best move– music. Throughout his life, Burton was heavily involved in music, and though he genuinely loved making music, he never saw it as a career.

“I started off as a six-year-old writing music,” Burton said. “My first studio session was nine years old, and then at Walnut I was able to make a mixtape and I sold it to my classmates. I was selling my mixtape [for] $5 to my classmates.”      

With such a strong foundation of music and the help of his parents, sister and the other members of BTB, Be the Best, Burton has created a successful entertainment company. He has been on tour in Texas, performed at Fountain Square, traveled all over the tri-state and has even been to Atlanta.

Burton’s songs are always based on real-life situations, some that he has gone through himself. 

“With my music, I want to tell real stories, from a real perspective, that uplifts people that may be in a dark place or in a darker environment,” Burton said.

Burton’s favorite song at this time is “Eve”, a song about Black women. Burton feels that Black women have either been stereotypically sung about, or not sung about at all, which was his inspiration for writing it.

“I want to be able to speak for marginalized people, as well as myself. [Eve] was able to get noticed by Rhapsody, a female artist in the industry that’s really made a name for herself. She’s Grammy nominated for [multiple] albums,” Burton said.

Alongside running BTB, Burton is a fifth-grade ELA teacher at Rockdale Elementary. As a teenager, Burton would work at summer camps and always loved working with kids. He started working as a paraprofessional at an elementary school, the turning point of his teaching career.

“The principal said [I] would be a great teacher. I never saw myself doing this because growing up in school I wasn’t the best student academically,” Burton said. “Getting that inspiration and that motivation from the principal [helped me] find my passion for working with the youth and taking it further to becoming a teacher.”           

Burton infused hip-hop into his teaching through the music video “This is a summary,” which was a remix of the song ‘Who Want Smoke,’ by Nardo Wick.

“The idea came from me thinking up a creative way to help [my students] grasp the concept of a summary, and now I’m thinking of making a song for every concept. So, by the end of the school year, we may have an entire mixtape,” Burton said.

Burton is leading his life with happiness and is thankful for the lifelong friendships he made at WHHS. He strives to inspire and help others to achieve their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.

“No matter what your situation is, no matter what your environment is, you can rise from a dark place and make something of yourself, [you can] be successful and success can look like whatever that is for you, as long as you’re doing something positive that is impacting people in a positive way,” Burton said.