Category Archives: Happenings

Extraordinary Women: Xe Jah’Twi

Her voice makes every conversation pause in a venue. Xe Jah’Twi, or Xena, is a lead vocalist with Vibe Riot, an East Coast Indie band with a Bluesy Funk Ragga Rock sound unlike anyone else. She gives her best to every performance, and what results is a remarkable presentation indicative of both her talent and her natural chemistry with the band. Of course, long before Xena took the stage with Vibe Riot, music was her passion.

As a child, Xena watched her father become an integral part of the music world while working in promotions. She fell in love with music in the 1980s, specifically Salt-N-Pepa. Their strong personalities as women, the rapping, the music, the female DJ—to Xena, they had everything.

Dancing began to call to her as well, and ultimately solidified her connection to the art.

“I wanted so badly to be a background dancer,” she recalls. “but I was too shy to bring it up.”

Xena met Jaewar, Vibe Riot’s frontman, while living in New York. At the time, she was a student, working hard to provide for her two children. She received a phone call from a friend asking if she wanted to contribute vocals to a song. Xena did a little research on the band and agreed.

Melody Robbins Photography

“I said, ‘If I do this in the first take, you guys owe me something. I want a treehouse in Haiti and some sushi.’ And I did it. The next time I heard from Jae was when the record was done, and the second time was when I came to Virginia to do the video. When we saw each other, it was like we never dropped the ball. With your best friend, it’s always a comfortable situation.”

Jaewar and Xena started exchanging ideas, and the encouragement helped her overcome any of the remaining hurdles that often accompany shyness.

To see her on stage now, you would never know that this dynamic performer was once too shy to be a background dancer. She fits perfectly into Vibe Riot’s family of compassionate and outgoing band members.

“I’m just me,” she says. “Xena means hospitality. When you have people who are accepting of you, it helps bring that out. That would be the one trait all have that is the same. We are just personable people.”

Prior to performing, she interacts with fans and makes real connections. When she returns to the stage, it is not only with the support of her fellow musicians, but of everyone else in the building. The positive energy creates a relaxing environment so the performers and the audience can truly vibe out to the music.

“We tell stories and talk about the political atmosphere to a certain degree. We show the cohesiveness and people coming from different backgrounds. It’s not the typical hip hop you would hear. The sound is different. It connects to heartbeat of a person,” she explains.

Xena hopes that audiences will relate to the music, and consider the responsibility we all have as citizens to encourage authentic discourse regarding current issues.

“You see a cohesiveness and understand that communication is possible any time a group of people come together on a small scale, like a household; on a medium scale, like a band; and on a large scale, like a government. It is one of the number one factors that contributes to wellness. If you can’t respectively communicate, then how do you expect anything else to be eradicated?” she asks.

As Xena continues her journey with Vibe Riot, she is excited to be included in more of the writing process. A lyricist by nature, she is enjoying her growth as a writer as much as she treasures what they have created on their latest EP, True! Raw Honey.

This is only small taste of Xe Jah’Twi’s phenomenal and inspiring story of tenacity, strength, and talent. It is all the more reason to attend one of Vibe Riot’s upcoming performances. Get there early, and you may have a chance to hear more of her story in person!

Check out Vibe Riot’s tour schedule here for more information. Roanoke fans, get ready! Vibe Riot is scheduled to perform at Martin’s Downtown on Saturday, February 17 at 10pm.

 

Photography by Melody Robbins Photography.

February at the Jefferson Center

On Saturday, February 10, at 7:30pm and Sunday, February 11, at 3:00pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall at the Jefferson Center the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra will be performing. The Orchestra presents Vivaldi The Four Seasons and Appalachian Spring. The Four Seasons is a beautiful violin piece that is sure to be memorable. The event will finish with Copland’s music for the ballet, Appalachian Spring. Led by Akemi Takayama, concertmaster of 14 years at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the show is sure to be breathtaking.

Joan Soriano will be taking the stage at the Jefferson Center in the Fostek Rehearsal Hall, on Friday the 16 at 8:00pm. Soriano grew up in the Dominican Republican, he made his first guitar out of a tin can and fishing line. Today he has seven recorded albums and is renowned for his blend of modern and traditional bachata music.

Starting at 9:00pm, immediately after Soriano performance, attend the 15th Annual Latin Dance Party inside Fitzpatrick Hall. If you attended Soriano’s show you get a $3 discount on admission to the party! There will be a 30-minute salsa workshop and then a live performance from West End Mambo. You won’t want to miss this lively event!

“An Evening with Andrew Bird,” will take place on Thursday, February 22 at 7:30pm in the Shaftman Performance Hall. Andrew Bird is a talented singer, song-writer, and multi-instrumentalist. As a kid he began playing violin at 4 and ever since then he was drawn to music of all types. Today Bird has released 13 albums and has even been a featured presenter on Ted Talk. A dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to Everyone for Gun Safety.

For more information about all these events and so many more, or to purchase tickets visit the Jefferson Center’s event page. Pick up the February issue of Bella for more information on Melissa Aldana’s concert later this month!

Written by Lilith Turman

Profile: Melissa Aldana

Tenor saxophonist Melissa Aldana will perform at the Jefferson Center on February 17 at 7 pm and again at 9 pm. A rising tenor saxophone star, Aldana recently released her second trio album (and fourth as a leader). “Back Home” unveils a powerful musical creation by Aldana and her illustrious bandmates. Not so much reminiscent of a specific place, “Back Home” evokes something a little deeper for Aldana.

“Back Home is a tribute to Sonny Rollins, who has been a huge influence on me since I was ten years old,” she explains. “It makes a reference to the first time I heard him playing back home in Chile. I completely fell in love with the sound of his tenor. He is organic and funny. Those are some of the most important elements in music. It’s like he’s having a conversation with you, and you can hear how he’s taking risks and trying new things. Those are the elements I want to have in my own playing.”

Aldana describes her relationship with the tenor saxophone as a lifelong commitment. The journey with the instrument has allowed her to mature as an artist, and her dedication to it remains. From New York to Montreal (and around the world), she carries that pivotal moment when she first heard Sonny Rollins play with her in addition to the lessons she has learned from other artistic influences. In this way, she can allow the music she creates to tell the story of her travels, experiences, and personal growth.

On “Back Home” she includes a track called “Time” that is a “meditation on her life since departing Chile.” She has described the nostalgic track as a reflection of the last nine years of her life. As the tenor saxophone carries the listener through the ups and downs of the accumulated time, it is not hard to give over the memories of one’s own adventures. This is exactly the impact Aldana hopes to have with her work.

“I hope [the audience] has fun and goes on a trip with the music. Also, I hope they enjoy it as much as I did when I recorded the album,” she adds.

Joining Aldana for her February 17 show are Sam Harris on the piano, Thomas Crane on the drums, and Pablo Menares on the bass. Together, they project an “uncommonly full orchestral sound, rich in spiritual intensity, all in the absence of a harmony instrument.” The experience is one that Roanoke audiences are unlikely to forget, and Aldana is excited to introduce both new and returning fans to her new music.

To purchase tickets, visit www.jeffcenter.org. For more information on Melissa Aldana and how to purchase her music, go to www.melissaaldana.com.

Artists Added to the FloydFest 18 Lineup!

FloydFest has announced new additions to their lineup for FloydFest 18~Wild!

Added to the schedule are the following bands:
Leftover Salmon
Keller Williams
The National Reserve
The Broadcast
Erin & The Wildfire
Mama Said String Band
Fireside Collective
Sol Searchers
Blue Mule
The Floorboards
My Radio
Black Mountain Revival
GOTE
Morgan Wade & The Stepbrothers
Los Chupacabras

We can’t wait to see these amazing artists perform July 25-29! For more information on FloydFest (and how to purchase tickets!) visit www.floydfest.com. We’ll see you there!

Meet Renée Hamilton of SWVA Ballet!

Southwest Virginia Ballet’s new executive director, Renée Hamilton, has been passionate about dance since she was a child. She began dancing very young, in elementary school, and continued dancing in different areas with a focus in ballet well into high school in Winchester, Virginia. Both in college and after graduation, she continued taking classes and remaining active on a voluntary basis.
After spending time in Arkansas, Renée moved back to the east coast and connected with Southwest Virginia Ballet. From the moment she met Karen and Pedro, she knew it would be a good fit for her.
Now, with the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s 22nd production of the Nutcracker approaching, her connection is accompanied by nostalgia.
“The Nutcracker was the first performance I was ever in as a child. I played Clara, and my parents danced in the Nutcracker alongside me. It’s something that naturally brings back childhood memories every Christmas, and makes it magical from the beginning of the season all the way through,” says Renée.
Artistic director, Pedro Szalay, is dedicated to adding something new every year in order to keep the performance fresh and new. Audiences who attend annually are often excited to see what changes he has made to costumes and choreography.
“The other fun part is watching kids in the company and community members grow and change throughout. These are exceedingly well-trained, passionate, artistic kids,” adds Renée.
In addition to supporting the participating young dancers, Southwest Virginia Ballet has a mission to give back to clients of human service organizations. If someone is going through a difficult time, and would have their holiday made better by attending a Nutcracker performance, their therapist or contact person can contact the office and say they are interested in receiving tickets for their client.
If you’d like to be part of this great organization and work with talented creatives like Pedro and Renée, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities!
“You don’t have to have a dance background to get involved. We will not turn away volunteers. We need people who sew, hair stylists, or any people who would like to get involved. We can look for a good match for their interests!” explains Renée.
Learn more about the Southwest Virginia Ballet (and Renée!) by attending events like their Nutcracker Gala on November 18 at the Shenandoah Club. There, you can also participate in an auction of locally handcrafted painted nutcrackers and other treasures! Additional events include Readings with Clara and the SugarPlum Fairy at local libraries through November and December. Of course, we can’t forget The Nutcracker performances at the Berglund Performing Arts Center on Saturday, December 9, at 2 pm and 7 pm, and Sunday, December 10, at 3 pm.
Visit www.svballet.org for more information and to purchase tickets

 

Photography by McDilda Photography.

Riot Rooster Makers!

The 2017 Riot Rooster: Fire Rooster event kicks off TODAY, Friday, November 17 from 5-10pm. Friday evening will be our Bella Girls Night Out, and visitors can enjoy a photo booth, purchase food and beverages, and tour the vendors before the Saturday market!

The Saturday market is the same day as the Grandin Children’s Parade. Beth Deel, organizer of Riot Rooster, encourages families to attend the parade and then visit Riot Rooster together.

“A lot of people call this the beginning of the holiday season. It is a good weekend for gathering, right before Thanksgiving,” Beth explains. “Bring the whole family!”

This will be Riot Rooster’s ninth year, and its fifth year at 16 West Marketplace. This month, we are featuring nine makers from the show to give a sneak peek of what you can expect. Check them out, and visit www.facebook.com/RIOTrooster for more details as the event approaches.

Meridith Entingh, of Meridith Weaves, will participate in Riot Rooster for the second time this year. If you visited Meridith in 2016, you may remember her assortment of unique and beautiful handwoven projects. Although she will have a few of those available again this year, she will also offer hand dyed items such as towels as scarves. “I love color,” she says. “It’s the thing that attracts people the most. Working with color is a lot more fun for me than working with a pattern. My goal is to have people interested in weaving and textiles, but with a little more variety.” www.meridithweaves.com

Icky Eye Ink, owned by Yashmin Barton, will be marking its third year at Riot Rooster this fall. Yashmin taught herself to knit over ten years ago, shortly after losing most of the vision in her left eye and part of the vision in her right eye. She makes scarves, hats, and blankets all year in preparation for the holiday season. Although she sticks to the same three projects, Yashmin allows herself to get creative with color selection. The result are bright, unique and fun pieces to guide her customers through what can be a dreary winter season. Her best seller every year is a piece she’s lovingly dubbed, “The Frankenstein.” Follow Yashmin on Instagram at #ickyeyeink and email her at ickyeyeink@gmail.com to come up with a new creation together!

Stina Anderson, of ARTeries by Stina, is a passionate environmentalist and advocate for recycling and clean living. She has found that upcycling is the best way to reuse and reinvent textile materials into new and beautiful clothing. This will be ARTeries Mobile Boutique’s second year at Riot Rooster. Based in Asheville, North Carolina, they love visiting Roanoke in their fashion truck, because it gives them the opportunity to see friends they’ve met from seven years at FloydFest. Customers can look forward to their holiday line of jewel toned velvet skirts, fingerless gloves, and hoodie scarves (which make great gifts!)! www.arteriesbystina.com

Heady Closet began when Jordan Holland decided to invest in silver wire and precious stones. She started self-taught wire wrapping in 2013, and her creativity helped her branch out from there. Currently, she makes adorable children’s clothing that can be stretched and unrolled to wear  continuously from sizes 6M to 3T. She participated in Riot Rooster this past spring, but this will be her first fall experience. Jordan plans to have fun natural art pieces, baby and kids’ dresses, and shoe styles for babies and children. She loves seeing how happy her creations make those who visit her table—so make sure to stop by! www.facebook.com/headycloset

Piper Lane, of Magpiper Metalworks, has been passionate about jewelry, stones, and metals since she was a child. Every piece she makes is done with complete love for the craft. This will be her third year participating in Riot Rooster. At her table, customers will find custom, handcrafted jingle bells in two sizes. Silver, brass, and copper will be available. Piper will also be taking orders for personalized bells and jewelry. This year’s display will have more rose cut sapphire rings and pendants of several colors including pinks, blues, and some earthy shades. Also, don’t miss her hand stamped mandala pendants and affordable etched and stamped copper cuffs! www.magpipermetalworks.com

The Paisley Poppy began in October 2015 after several years of encouragement and support for owner, Krista Nance. Krista loves to create new projects for herself and others, and custom orders are some of her favorite projects because she loves matching fabric to her customers. Among her best sellers at Riot Rooster are her “Unpaper Towels.” These cloth towels offer a convenient, stylish, and eco-friendly alternative to paper towels. Additionally, customers can purchase her accordion clutch wallets, pocket pillows, wet bags, and snack bags. Some new things she’s offering this year include aprons, memory games and I-spy bags for kids, Bed Caddies, and some limited series Roanoke zipper bags. www.thepaisleypoppystore.etsy.com

Lyndsey Dickerson, of Unbound, grew up in an artistic family, and she began to explore the art of jewelry making about five years ago. As a self-taught silversmith, she is passionate about bringing her creative vision to life through nature-inspired metal and gemstone pieces. This will be her third year at Riot Rooster, and customers old and new will fall in love with her unique mountain collection of rings, necklaces, and earrings. Unbound body care products will make their Riot Rooster debut this year, including natural body butters and scrubs, deodorants, roll-on perfume oils, therapeutic essential oil blends, beard wax, and much more! www.etsy.com/shop/UnboundElements

Frances West was inspired to begin making kinetic mobiles after a year-long stay in Denmark. A combination of the long Scandinavian winters and seeing the mobiles everywhere she turned led Frances to give them a try. Although she has been part of Riot Rooster for several years, this will be the year that her new business, Fulcrom Mobiles, makes its debut there. She will consider doing custom projects for customers, so consider visiting her to find out more about how a mobile can fit into your life! You can also contact Frances via email at fulcrommobiles@gmail.com  to receive more information about her mobiles and place your order.

Lynn Donihe, of Willow Pine Studio, began working with mosaics because of a need to focus on something intently and an obsession with tiny little handmade Moroccan tile that packs so much intense color and texture into one itty-bitty surface. Belt buckles are her perfect canvas—small enough for the intricate designs she wanted and a fun and unexpected place for a little bit of art. This will be her fifth year at Riot Rooster, and she will bring new designs for buckles and pendants in addition to old favorites. Additionally, she will have a collection of small, stacked sculptures and wall pieces that include many of those same designs. www.etsy.com/shop/WillowPineStudio

 

 

 

New Staff at Jefferson Surgical Clinic!

Jefferson Surgical Clinic has a commitment to providing patients with exemplary health care. For that reason, we always take interest when they hire new staff. The latest additions to their team are no exception to their commitment. We are excited to introduce you to these two extraordinary women!

Christin Clark has been promoted to Nurse Practitioner upon completing a M.S. in Nursing in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in the spring of 2017. She will see patients in JSC’s vascular clinic, where she has worked as an R.N. supervisor since 2014.

Susan K. Blick has joined Jefferson Surgical Clinic as an advanced-level certified family nurse practitioner. She will be joining Dr. Gregory Zachmann in providing patent care at Jefferson Surgical’s ENT department. Blick relocated to Roanoke from Macon, Georgia where she spent 14 years as a nurse practitioner.

For more information, or to make an appointment with Christin Clark or Susan Blick, call 540.283.6000.

Heart to Heart Conversations in Roanoke

This November the Heart to Heart: Conversations on Loving our LGBTQ Neighbors and Strengthening our Faith will be holding a series of discussions in the Roanoke area. These conversations will feature the internationally known speaker, author, and spiritual director, Susan Cottrell. Susan is a wife and mother to five children, two of whom are members of the LGBTQI community, and author of Mom, I’m Gay! Loving Your LGBTQ Child and Strengthening Your Faith and True Colors: Celebrating the Truth and Beauty of the Real You. She has also founded the organization, www.freedhearts.org, a nonprofit that aims to address LGBTQI issues theologically and religiously. Having recently been featured on ABC’S 20/20, Nightline and Good Morning America, Susan is a firm believer that the foundation of faith is based upon one’s love for God and all others.

The main purpose behind the Heart to Heart conversations is to create and promote serious discussion and support for the LGBTQ community. What once started as a one-day event, has now turned into a week-long series of events to promote discussion, love, and understanding. Among many topics discussed, some of the most prominent include curiosity and difficulty with sexual orientation, gender identity, and faith. The Heart to Heart events will be held November 8-12 with the main event, the Heart to Heart Conference, occurring November 11, 9am-2pm at the Christ Episcopal Church in Roanoke. A schedule of these events may be found at www.hearttoheartva.com. Most of these events, unless stated otherwise, are free and open to the public.

Donations can be made to the Heart to Heart foundation online at www.donate.hearttoheartva.com or checks can be made payable to the Roanoke Diversity Center and mailed to 806 Jamison Ave SE, Roanoke, VA 24013. All donations will go towards funding for these conversations that deepen our love and support for the LGBTQ community and featuring authors and leaders, such as Susan Cottrell.

 

Written by Taylor Ward