Zion S. Charity is a bass guitarist and native of Surry County, Virginia. Inspired by his uncle, bassist Alvin Parker, Zion picked up the instrument and later studied with jazz and gospel musicians Alvin “Web” Wilson and Randolph “Randy” Ellis. In college, Zion studied with James Holden, Jr., Harold Houghton, Sr., and Mark Johnson. Zion has toured internationally and performed alongside artist such as Earl Bynum, Cora Armstrong, and DeeDee Bridgewater. As a recording artist, Zion plays bass for artists worldwide, as well as produces his own solo work. He has performed with many groups in the Virginia area, including the Carl Waterford Band and the KGExperience (Detroit, Michigan), and served as music director for Damon Little (Baltimore , Maryland). As an educator, he is the CEO of Zionite Bass University, a privately-run bass guitar school for students of all ages. Beyond music, Zion is involved in community service both locally and nationally.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/02/2020.
Angelica Garcia is a songwriter and vocalist based in Richmond, Virginia. Growing up in a musical and multigenerational environment, Garcia recalls Mexican ranchera music always playing throughout her home, which included Garcia’s mother, who was a professional singer of mostly mariachi and Latin pop. Garcia attended the magnet high school LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts). In Richmond, she has released studio albums including Medicine For Birds (2016) and Cha Cha Palace (2020), both with Spacebomb Records. She released several music videos, and her song “Jícama” became widely known when Barack Obama selected the track for his 2019 year-end list. Her music explores Latinx identity and her roots in Los Angeles, and she has donated proceeds from her work to regionally based organizations supporting migrant families in the U.S. such as ¡MIRA!, Annunciation House, and Immigrant Families Together.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/29/2020
Kevin LaMarr Jones is a dance artist, choreographer, and performer. He is the artistic director of the community-based dance company and academy called Claves Unidos (translated United Rhythms), a collective of independent artists that celebrates the multiple Afro descendent roots—dances from different parts of the world, especially the Caribbean and the Americas. Kevin believes that beyond the barriers of race, age, gender, religion and geography, it is the African presence in the arts that unites the world.
Interviewed by Raquel Paraíso, 09/25/2020.
Jrdarappr aka JR is a rapper based in Richmond, Virginia. His debut album Highway To Hell was released in the spring of 2020 and explores subjects like police brutality, homicide and the ups and downs of living in the United States. The album was made in collaboration with Richmond-based producer NameBrand, along with members of the Poverty Crew, composed of JR, Vonton Soup, and Esco. Other featured artists on the album include Richmond hip hop artists Michael Millions, Young Flexico, and Nickelus F. Beyond the album, JR has performed in open mics around the city, and released a number of music videos driven by visual aesthetics and narrative flow, including “Way 2” and “This That.” JR has collaborated with the Poverty Movement, a project of his and the Poverty Crew that uses creative mediums to further Black radical liberation.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 09/26/2020.
Originally from Baton Rouge, multi-instrumentalist Casey Wayne McCallister spent years in New Orleans playing with multiple bands in the nuevo roots/country scene, including Hurray for the Riff Raff, before relocating to Charlottesville, Virginia. Over the years, he slowly began to do increasing amounts of composition for film, and now he has multiple feature film scores under his name, including the independent films Ghostbox Cowboy (2018), Western (2015), the Ross Brothers’ Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets (2020), and Socks on Fire (2020). He is also a skilled refurbisher of vintage organs.
Interviewed by Holly Hobbs, 09/08/2020.
Marlysse Rose Simmons-Argandoña is a first-generation Chilean-American pianist, composer and educator based in Richmond, Virginia. She is the band leader, arranger and pianist for the globally renowned indie-salsa band Bio Ritmo and the bolero-inspired project Miramar. With her projects she has toured North America, Europe, Russia, and Georgia. She is a recipient of the Mid-Atlantic Touring Arts grant, recorded for Brooklyn’s Daptone, Barbès, and Spain’s Vampisoul Records. She studied composition under Grammy Award-winning artist Arturo O’Farrill and has traveled the world to make independent studies of various musical traditions including Brazil, Cuba, Chile, Puerto Rico and country of Georgia. Simmons also works as a commissioned arranger, educator and lecturer.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/14/2020.