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Portraits of Ohio

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around Ohio.

Emily Bernath

I started my author journey in the summer of 2016 out of my passion for women’s ministry. This passion came from a place of deep hurt and me wanting to make a difference in other women’s lives going through similar things. About five years before I began writing, I was raped by a man I knew and once trusted. At the time it happened, I was hundreds of miles away from home and had no car, so in my anger, I turned the only direction I could go, and that was up to God, asking him, “why me?” and “what did I do to deserve this?” Read more>>

Dani Sage

After over a decade in the beauty industry, I started realizing that the individuals on the other side of the table were craving something more than just manicured nails and small talk. They needed more than pampering; they needed to be supported. I left the salon I had managed for nine years to pursue a more holistic way to indulge my clients. That’s when the Good Vibes Hive was born! Five years ago, I combined my love for the physical indulgence of the beauty industry with my passion for the metaphysical world of spirituality. Read more>>

Divine Wilson

Where do I start! Growing up, I always had a creative eye, doing poetry, painting, and arrange of different things. I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs. My grandfather was a businessman for that’s where I got the entrepreneurial spirit and began my career as a fashion buyer, which lead me to wanting to be more hands-on in the fashion world, where I became hairstylist. After graduating from Aveda, I worked as an assistant stylist for a top salon and worked my way up to having my own salon suite. Read more>>

Santino Becerra

Born and raised on the west side of Cleveland. Troubled childhood growing up. High school dropout. At 15, I started to get my life on track and got a job at Mcdonald’s. By the time I was 18, I was a manager and then promoted to general manager. 20 years at Mcdonald’s until I closed that chapter of my life to start my own business in real estate. I actually started 2 years prior to leaving Mcdonald’s but it was hard taking care of my family, working full time & starting a business. Read more>>

Ty & Masami Smith

What exactly is NAICCO Cuisine? The short, summarized answer could simply be: NAICCO Cuisine is a Native American-owned and operated food trailer that offers a one-of-a-kind menu consisting of exquisite Native American street food or what might be better referred to as savory favorites from various parts of Indian Country. However, in order to answer this question properly, the most important component of what really makes the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) what it is, needs to be spoken to… and that’s the Native Americans who personify NAICCO and all that it stands for. Read more>>

Arushi Prakash

I graduated from the University of Toledo with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Cosmetic Science Formulation and Design. I was very excited when I first heard about this degree because I have always been fascinated with color theory, skincare, and trying different products! After graduating, I worked for a company that produced perfumes, hand sanitizers, and various types of soaps. While I learned a lot of skills at school and gained valuable experience in the workforce, I always felt like I was missing a part of myself. Read more>>

Charles Maurer

I started still work in education as a teacher and then principal. I loved real estate and would frequently go out and look at homes. One day I decided to get my license and it was the best decision I have ever made. I have enjoyed the 5 years I have been in real estate. I have grown every year, numbers-wise, client-wise, etc. It has been very exciting meeting and helping people. Read more>>

Jasper Martin

I’ve loved art ever since I was little, drawing fan art and making my own characters and stories from an early age! My other interests lay largely in media- and it didn’t take me long to realize that I wasn’t seeing characters like myself on the screen often. Over the years, after using art to sustain and care for myself in daily life (building an income with freelance graphic design and illustration, healing through art therapy, etc.), I turned my attention to that fact once again, wondering what I could do to help. Read more>>

Ashton Speer

My story is pretty short and sweet, I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I then graduated with my Masters in Speech-Language Pathology from Baldwin Wallace University in 2018. My first full-time job was doing home health care, outpatient services, and inpatient services. I really enjoyed traveling to see my patients and having the freedom to make therapy as functional. Read more>>

Denyse Lipka

I consider myself an accidental entrepreneur. Cleveland born and raised; I am a certified Ohio art educator with 20 years of teaching in the classroom. I started my own local traveling art business in 2015, going to local businesses, wineries, and homes for fun and creative painting parties. When Covid hit, social media was extremely beneficial, and I offered free online art classes to my 2,000 followers who shared the post and following grew to 30,000 in two days. I went live for the very first time on March 16, 2020, and had 20,000 viewers from around the world. Read more>>

Bill Schuller

Being a DJ was not my first choice or even in my top 5 list of careers. I graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Tellecomunications. I graduated with a non-specific degree I didn’t know what to do with because I wanted to get into advertising, and I had sales skills through working retail at a place called ABC Warehouse. While working again in retail, I started hanging out with a DJ friend (Tommy) I met from working. Read more>>

DrippDaDon

I was born into a very musical family. My family originally is from Rwanda but fled to Zambia during the Rwandan genocide. Being immigrants from Zambia, Africa, when we initially came to the US, I was only four years old. My mother packed all of our belongings into two bags. Being culturally challenged as I was entering a new world full of opportunities and cultural differences, I was determined to make a better life for myself in America. Read more>>

Taylor Carter

I started tattooing in January of 2020. I have been passionate about art all my life and am so lucky to have a creative job that I love! I graduated from UC with a bachelor’s of fine art and a master’s of business administration in 2016, and at the time I had no idea at the time which one of my many creative interests I wanted to pursue. I tend to dive into a lot of projects at once, so I spent a few years working in corporate marketing and working for a startup skincare company while doing photography on the side and running an Etsy shop. Read more>>

Drew Baker

I actually started doing foam dart gun reviews for YouTube, found that wasn’t working relatively quickly. One day I decided to film some planting action on our family farm, about an hour east of Columbus; video blew up compared to my others. Luckily, I’ve been involved in agriculture my whole life, and decided to pursue the views on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, and possibly connect with those who aren’t active in the ag world. Read more>>

Rob Musick

I was a senior executive for an East Coast insurance company. The last several years of my career filling the role of CIO. It was a great job with an outstanding organization. However, I wasn’t content. I needed something more than just a comfortable job, working towards a comfortable retirement. I wanted to make a tangible difference in this world, but I wasn’t sure where to focus my efforts or what I could possibly do. Read more>>

Chad Morris

I started cutting hair at 15 years old. We didn’t have a lot of extra money for haircuts for me and my two brothers and my dad took matters into his own hands, literally. He bought a pair of clippers for $5 at an auction. Needless to say, they weren’t the best of quality and dad wasn’t the best of barbers. He would end up pulling my big brothers’ hair out after we each received 2 buzz cuts. He didn’t put oil on them or clean them, so they were barely cutting. Read more>>

Terence Keaser

The story is a little heavy. I was drawn to different music as a child. My parents listened to everything from Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, Allan Jackson, etc… As I became older, I explored my own interest in music. It was 2008/2009 when I started The Wave 96 Internet Radio station. As a teenager, I felt empowered. I had a voice; I had a platform. I look back, and WOW was I ahead of my time. There is so much I could go into detail about. 2011 I officially had my first live DJ performance/ gig. Read more>>

Jamie Benassi

About six-and-a-half years ago I was asked to come try sled hockey. Sled hockey is a sport for physically challenged athletes. The local team is the Cincinnati Icebreakers run by Renee Loftspring. I thought I was coming to watch a practice but Renee got me suited up and in a sled, as soon as I got to the rink. I was a little skeptical because no one in my family had ever watched hockey and it had always appeared very aggressive. Read more>>

Dallas Riffle

I have always been an artist – as a kid, you could always find me drawing… it was just a part of my DNA. Even in my elementary school yearbooks, the back pages are filled with notes from my classmates declaring I was the best “draw-er” in the class. In high school, I decided to participate in the Akron Beacon Journal’s “Design an Ad” contest, where kids could enter their hand-drawn ads for local businesses. My ad for Goodyear (headquartered in Akron) won first place – and it was then that I knew I wanted to be in the world of advertising. Read more>>

Guy Snowdon

I grew up in the Midlands of England on a healthy mix of pop, jazz, rock, and world music from my parents’ and grandparents’ collections. Songs from Tears for Fears, Buddy Rich, Aztec Camera, Youssou N’Dour were early influences which led to me discovering British legends like, The Beatles, ELO, Queen, and Oasis. At 16, I studied music in college and joined a band. I played bass and fronted an original Leicestershire band, The Fores, which enabled me to tick off an item from my bucket list – playing The Cavern Club in Liverpool. Read more>>

Gerik Flaczynski

I’d like to introduce myself; my name is Gerik Flaczynski, I am 18 years old and have lived in Toledo, Ohio my whole life. I will be attending The University of Toledo this fall as a business major and I am the creator of the @polish_village_419 Instagram page. From a very young age, I have always had a love for history and I loved every bit of my social studies and history classes. I am very interested in my ancestry and have been for a very long time. If you couldn’t tell by the name, I am Polish, half Polish anyway. I spent a lot of time with my paternal grandparents who were both of Polish decent. Read more>>

Miss V Van-Cartier

It all started one night in NYC during Fashion Week. I was at Boots & Saddles, and they brought me on stage for an audience lip sync battle/ competition. We were each randomly assigned a music artist, and the DJ played 60 seconds of a song by that artist, but we didn’t know which song until it played. The hostess assigned me, Taylor Swift, my song was Blank Space, and I won. I came back to Pittsburgh and got started. My first performance was at Blue Moon bar’s Open Stage on Wednesday, March 23, 2016. I did Blank Space by Taylor Swift, and since that night, I found my true passion. Read more>>

Danielle Nicole

My Nontle Jewelry journey started at Kentucky State University. I was headed to a formal event and couldn’t find a necklace in the color of my dress. I had found several necklaces that I liked but nothing that I needed. So, I purchased 2 of the same necklace and took 1 apart to see how it was constructed. Later I was able to go into the local crafts store and ask them for the pieces that I would need to make my own. This was the spring of 2004. Read more>>

April Hancock

I started my business JaeLuxe Shoetique back in 2014 after finding out I was expecting and wanting to have more flexibility with the new addition to the family. Putting my daughter in daycare at 6 weeks old was not even an option for my husband, so I decided to start an e-commerce business. When I birthed Jaeliana my daughter, I birthed a business. I started out in my dining room packing and shipping orders; then one day we were recognized by many nationally known news outlets for having the same boots that Beyonce wore on the finale of her Formation Tour. Read more>>

Fiona Avocado

I have always been an artist and a writer. My work is informed by my activism, my community, and my interests. When I was in undergrad at Michigan State University, I started drawing comics and making zines (short for fan zines, basically DIY magazine!) in 2009. Around the same time, I learned printmaking, delving into screenprinting and relief printing. I moved to Portland, OR in 2011 to pursue the Independent Publishing Resource Center’s (IPRC) yearlong Comics and Graphic Novels Certificate Program. Read more>>

Rickie Holmes

Well, I was brought up in mainly Catholic schools up until the 2nd half of my junior year, when I transferred from Villa Angela- St. Joesph High School to Euclid High School. I knew I wanted to build my own business but didn’t know what to do, so I focused on the talents I have such as cooking and baking. I applied to many of the restaurants and food spots all around my area to get experience working in a kitchen and applied to culinary school. Read more>>

Aaron & Erin Buckley

River City Leather, a family-owned shop in Gallipolis, Ohio, creates hand-made leather goods with a lifetime guarantee in their small town that sits along the Ohio River. Aaron found leather work as a hobby while recovering from a motorcycle accident–but it quickly became more than that. After he made Erin a leather purse for her birthday, they found an overwhelming interest from their friends and community, and soon after, RCL was founded in 2011. Read more>>

EShira Gooden

What is my story?? My story is a journey of learning what it means to over the obstacles that arise while maintaining who you are. I had to face who I thought I was over and over as a kid just trying new things all the time, thinking that was who I was. The these I liked, the people I like to have around. A lot of self-identifying and overanalyzing who I was. This is this mental journey I took myself through based on the events that occurred I was able to observe myself a lot, observing what I had, what I didn’t have, what “they” had that I didn’t have. Read more>>

Courtney Price

I grew up in San Diego, California and from a very young age, I knew right from the start that I wanted to be in the hair industry. We had a family friend that owned a salon with a view over the water. I would always watch her when my family came for haircuts and the joy of going into a salon and coming out looking and feeling amazing was something I fell in love with. Once I graduated hair school, I worked at a big salon for four years and it really helped me perfect my skills. Read more>>

Alexis Larsen

I’ve always been a creative at heart with a deep love for business as well as community. Professionally I had spent years in the service industry playing every role from serving to management. I had a deep love for the connections I was able to make as well as the hospitality I was able to provide, taking someone’s experience to the next level was always my goal. When the pandemic hit, and my restaurant closed, I was determined to keep the creativity flowing! Read more>>

Eli Kleman

I’ve been drawing and painting as long as I can remember, actively doing art through high school and college. After graduation, I took a 10-year hiatus. Once COVID hit, it gave me ample time to pick back up where I left off. Having so much free time allowed me to work hours on end, each night, which helped me to improve and try new things. Since then, I’ve been included in shows and festivals in the Columbus area, which has been an amazing experience. Read more>>

Collin Yost

Roseland Coffee Bar was founded over the phone with my father and business partner Craig Yost. We had always joked of the idea of own our own business. I was living in Portland, Oregon at the time. I had traveled over the country working as a marine biologist, but in my off time, I had worked in various coffee houses since I had gotten out of college. I had always felt like I had a larger calling to do more for people, to be my own boss, and a creative mindset to build something larger than just a business. Read more>>

Anaya Ni’Kole

Growing up, I never had rhythm. Looking back now, it is very ironic, my mother put me in cheerleading because she wanted me to learn to have rhythm. Later my grandmother introduced me to dance. At a young age, I didn’t have a passion for it. Then Rise the movie came out; seeing all of these people krumping and seeing the joy on their faces as they danced made me fall in love with krumping. I remember my mom making up dance routines for her performances because she was a rapper, and she would have my brother and I on stage with her. Read more>>

Ash Chipalu

Bridges Nepali Cuisine served its first meal at historic Findlay Market in Cincinnati, Ohio. I absolutely believed in my Mom Rose Chipalu’s cooking and wanted to share her delicious food to the city and Findlay Market was the perfect spot to do it. Once we realized the food and our concept of serving our authentic Nepali style rice bowls would work, we got beyond lucky to find a permanent physical spot in the eclectic neighborhood of Northside in February 2017. Read more>>

Jimmie Lee

I am a professional wrestler, wrestling trainer, promoter, actor, and stuntman from Mansfield. I started my journey in the wrestling business in 1989 with the American States Wrestling Alliance and was trained by Kid Collins and then later co-trained by the late Charlie Fulton. I wanted to be a professional wrestling since I was a kid when I would watch it on TV with my parents and grandpa, uncles, and cousins and seen the excitement that lit up in their eyes. Read more>>

Francisco Pici

I have always worked in restaurants and have always loved coffee shops and food trucks, in 2019, I invested all my savings in starting my own coffee truck. My goal is to dedicate my life to do what I love: serve people with my food and customer service. I work with my son, and we’re excited for the future of trading and coffee. I combined my two favorite interests: stock market and coffee; I hope one day to be able to open our own coffee shop in the beautiful city. Read more>>

Nancy Aichholz

Aviatra Accelerators is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2010. Aviatra’s multi-state organization enables women to start and sustain businesses by giving them the resources they need to be successful. Aviatra encourages its members to move forward, embracing them when they return, helping to refuel and reignite their passions. What We Do: Celebrating ten years of providing resources to women on the rise, Aviatra Accelerators sole purpose is to support female entrepreneurs with a meaningful combination of education, coaching, mentoring, networking, and access to capital. Read more>>

Shawn Douglas

I’m an artist by the name of S.A.I.N.T I’m 27 years of age I started doing music at the age of 11. As a teen, I was a little troubled going down the wrong path at 19 I did some time, and I dropped out of High School my senior year in 2013, but when I hit the bottom of my road, I realized music was my passion and love, and that’s what I wanted to be my career. In 2018 I signed my first distribution deal with Bentley Records in 2020, I moved on to BeatRoot music and stayed consistent I’ve already had music on the radio in Akron areas and surrounding, but since then, I’ve dropped 14 Albums/E.P’s and 13 Singles and 27 music videos with songs played on the radio. Read more>>

Isana Sebastian

My name is Isana Ashaneya-Sebastian. I started IA GLAM when I was 20 years old when I hit a point with no interest of what was going on in my life. I always wanted a brand/business of my own, but I always thought it would be when I got much older. Luckily, God had other plans. I had went to community college, and I hated it. I was never much of a school person, and I didn’t go to school for me but for my parents’ sake. I loved what I was going to school for but not as much as I loved makeup and beauty, something told me to leave school and I wasn’t doing well, even lost my FASFA. Read more>>

James Yoder

We started Picture it Engraving in 2017 because as I was running a construction company, I saw the need for someone to fulfill customer appreciation gifts with a good quality product. We set the engraver up in my son’s garage and he did engraving one the days we were not busy with construction. We found out in a hurry there is also a need for custom engraving for gifts for individuals. The demand was so great that we moved to our present location at 232 Dover Road NW Sugarcreek, Ohio in November 2019. Read more>>

Tizzie Nuss

Raised in a family of educators, I started my career in education, managing programs that provide care for children before and after school. My love of people eventually drew me to Human Resources, where I’ve worked alongside brilliant minds at companies from Honda to Battelle to IGS Energy. My passion—and, quite frankly, a whole bunch of signs from God—propelled me here, doing this. Read more>>

Eric Elfstrom

My name is Eric Elfstrom and I started Elfstrom Media in 2018. My dream is to make it in hip hop music but I started doing photography and videography just as a hobby. As I was getting better with photography, I started getting pulled in multiple directions to shoot and make videos for different people and music groups and then it became my full-time job. It has definitely not been a smooth road. When your business is constantly growing you have to reinvest into your company constantly. Read more>>

Adam McElroy

Like every other podcast, we have changed quite a bit from the beginning. Three years ago, the podcast actually started as a hip-hop album review show. The plan was to discuss fun topics for the first half hour but then always end the show with an in-depth review of an album. That quickly changed after a few months because it was hard to do all of the research we wanted to while being parents and working constantly. Read more>>

Molly Gallagher

Growing up AA My relationship with Stella Maris began when I was 14. Christmas morning, wearing a baseball cap and my navy hoody I trekked out into the snow with my dad. At that point, he had been sober for about 5 years, and I knew very little about AA. He was taking me down to Stella’s and said that the holidays are about “presence, not presents.” I remember walking into the kitchen area, men gathered around, hot coffee in Styrofoam cups, not fully understanding the impact that this day would have on my life. These men were gathered together in gratitude. Read more>>

Tri Tri

I’m an artist. I’m from Chicago, and my grandfather was a HUGE lover of music. He played piano, and jazz lived at the core of his heart. Music has been a part of my life since I was little, and so has writing. I used to write poetry and short stories. Somehow that transitioned over to lyrics for songs. I went from an R&B songwriter to a rapper! I’ve made music privately forever but I didn’t bring it to the public until the end of 2019. Here we are now. Lol Read more>>

Annie Schutz

I started getting into photography/videography my sophomore year of college, I originally was studying things like music and theatre, but I wasn’t truly enjoying myself and actually ended up switching my major 11 times trying to figure out what I wanted. While going through that process, I ended up taking a media production class; we had to work as camera operators for the athletic department, and for the first time in the 2 years I was in school, I felt like I found something I loved. Read more>>

Deantoine Nelson

The story of Plain Clothed Millionaires started years ago based on two events I shared in two totally different places in the world but with the same individual in both events and one unanimous outcome. A close friend and business partner and I were in the first scenario returning from a business trip and decided to extend the trip once back in Puerto Rico with a few more of our business partners to recap some of the trips highlights as well as take a brief moment to relax and reset before heading back to our respective cities of business. Read more>>

Catalina Celis Reasoner

The story of how CELIStial Art came about to be, goes way back to my childhood. I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, in a family of five children where art, literature, and music were our daily bread and butter. Growing up with a medley of German, Venezuelan, and Colombian holiday traditions, and where creativity was encouraged daily, my imagination saw no limits. I found inspiration in every corner of our house. Read more>>

Pleaser

The band started around 2020. Even though we grew up in the same small town just outside of Kentucky, we undoubtedly claim Louisville as our home. We started out with our first EP, “Why Aren’t You Any Fun?” released in March of 2021. While anxiously awaiting the reception of our very first release, we worked hard at playing as many local shows as we could. Towards the end of the year, we started growing our social media presence with Instagram Reels and TikTok. We couldn’t have ever expected the reception they got. Read more>>

PastAura

I initially started writing poetry at 12 and then began rapping at 16. It wasn’t until I was 20 when I became more serious, and I put out an album as well as an EP recently. Right now, I’m still developing my sound, and it’s a learning process, but I’m being versatile and am doing all types of music such as rap, hip-hop, pop, trap, alternative, and others. I am very proud of myself and will continue to improve in my musical ability, such as in my bars, flow, and sound. Read more>>

Tripp Fontane

I’ve always been in love with music and storytelling. Growing up on Funk, Soul, and Blues will do that to you. In elementary school, though, Rap music stole my heart. Groups like Outkast and Bone Thugs n Harmony made music sound ways that I had never heard or experienced before. I wanted to make sounds like that. I wanted to give people the feeling they gave me. I wanted to give people the feeling Hip-Hop gave me. So, I wrote my first song in 1998. Oddly enough, it wasn’t Rap. Read more>>

Jake Shirley

During the peak of Covid, while being at home, I knew that it was beneficial to myself and my family that I create my own business to support our needs. It was important that I was able to depend on myself and not anybody else for income to get through these times. After months of research and trial and error– Pressure Mate was created! What turned into hopes, wishes, and struggles of starting my own business, turned into a whole family operation that everyone loves to participate in. It could not have been better for my family and I to begin this journey! Read more>>

Brianna Williams

I started writing when I was a small person. It started with me creating alternate endings to lifetime movies I was probably too young to watch. It grew into me writing my own takes on news articles about beauty and lifestyle when I was in high school. That kind of writing slowly turned into me blogging as a hobby while in school. And here I am now doing it part-time on top of a full-time job. Read more>>

Tori Gay

Like many people, 2020 challenged me to rethink why I was working. I was cooped up in a tiny Chicago condo, working constantly for a large food brand. Partially, I was working long hours to feel purposeful when everything felt unknown. But if I’m being honest, I chose to work those long hours even before the pandemic. In September 2020, I was sitting on my window sill drawing charts to take an honest look at what fills my time. Read more>>

Chanel Scales

My passion for fashion was imprinted on my heart and soul at the impressionable age of 5. My grandmother placed fashion in my lap by way of vogue and bazaar magazines. I believe she knew that my tender mind had the capacity to understand that she was introducing me to a new world. A world where I’d have the power to get lost in my visions and create masterpieces. And that I did, launched my clothing brand, Shingo in 2014, designed prom dresses that went viral, worked with the NAACP, and styled commercials for the Bengals, VH1, Pepsi and others. Read more>>

Waverly Willis

My mother used to cut my hair, and she get a terrible job at it; all the kids Would laugh and point fingers at my Haircuts. One day I asked my mom if I could cut my own hair and unfortunately, I got the same results. But life with anything You practice, and you get better. The same kids that were laughing for the same kids that started asking me to cut their hair. Today I am the owner of 3 urban Kutz Barbershop and A Barber instructor at Ohio’s largest Barber college. Read more>>

John King

My name is John King, Owner of Flytz Gymnastics, Inc. I am a graduate of Kent State University. While attending college in Kent, Ohio, I took a position managing a gymnastics facility operated by the YWCA. After several years of growth, I purchased the gymnastics program from the YWCA. Flytz Gymnastics (pronounced flights) incorporated in 1995 and was originally located in Kent, Ohio. I moved my business from Kent, Ohio to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio in 1999. The move was necessary as our previous building was too small at only 10,000 square feet. Read more>>

Nakita Pope

My love for skin began at a young age. Your skin is what people see first when they meet you, and I’ve always wanted to have the best skin possible. In high school, I never had bad acne, however, watching my peers around me go through and experience challenging skin conditions made me try countless methods and research at-home remedies to try to help them solve their skin problems. This inspired me to pursue an education in skincare and learn it on a deeper level. Read more>>

Amber King

I guess I can say that my story leading up to what is now Queenz Krumblez started in 1986. That was the year my brother was born; I was two years old and didn’t attach well to others outside of my mom. You would think that would be a problem for someone that was about to deliver a baby, and that’s when my Aunt Rhonda (who traveled from Bluefield, WV), introduced me to my first taste of sugar… Her famous lemon cake! I would say my obsession for sugar has been in effect since then lol. Read more>>

Kate Dedinsky

I have been making music my whole life in some way, shape, or form. When I was growing up, I would set up all the pots and pans on the floor throughout the house and build my own drum kits. Music has always been a reliable outlet for me throughout the different stages of my life. After graduating high school, I was still under the impression that I could never really do music as any type of career. I changed my mind in college multiple times— from graphic design, teaching, business, etc… finally I had a bit of a breakdown and ended up finding a 4-week crash course for audio engineering in Chillicothe, OH, called the Recording Workshop. Read more>>

Duncan Kirkwood

Growing up in the inner city of Buffalo, I should have been dead or in jail, but God had a purpose for my life. I left Buffalo after high school to attend a Historically Black College, Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. There I really discovered my voice and that I had something special to offer the world. I can remember as a freshman after a lively debate with a professor named Dr. English; he pulled me to the side to ask me a question that would change the path of my life. Read more>>

Samuel Martin

Very quickly after beginning my studies as a pianist, I was thrown into the world of playing with singers. The experience of working and playing with them was so much more enjoyable than sitting in a practice room alone for hours each day, training for a solo career that I never wanted. Not to mention, the music I got to play with singers was some of the most beautiful and meaningful I had ever heard. Read more>>

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