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North East Flair

Summer Pickings That Come Every Year by Khadijah Ali-Coleman

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ock, funk, soul and hip hop … whatever your choice, chances are you can catch it, or you already caught it, at one of the musical events taking place east of the river. Festivals, music events and talent showcases pop up all season throughout DC, but this summer, Northeast and Southeast are becoming locations for some of the hottest events. I was able to check out some of the best of the bunch and look forward to those to come.The Artomatic For starters, the annual Artomatic found a home this year in Northeast. Artomatic is a month-long multimedia arts event where visual artists, musicians and performers come together to share their work with the community free-of-charge. Artomatic transforms unused building space into an artist playground, accepting submissions from the self-taught to the classically trained visual and performing artist. The nonprofit Artomatic organization is headed by a volunteer board of directors and is funded in part by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts. The NoMa (north of Massachusetts Avenue) Business Improvement District (BID) hosted this year’s Artomatic at the Capitol Plaza I building, located at 1200 First St. (First and M streets) NE, just one block west of the New York Avenue Metro station. NoMa is an emerging mixed-use neighborhood north of the US Capitol and Union Station in Washington, DC. Private developers have invested over $1 billion in 2007-2008 alone, with plans to develop over the next 10 years more than 20 million square feet of office, residential, hotel and retail space in the 35-block area covered by the NoMa BID. This year I spent more time checking out the performing arts than the visual arts, as I did during last year’s Artomatic in Virginia. Though a big fan of the DC go-go band Mambo Sauce who performed in the Artomatic, I have to say that the highlight of the Artomatic for me was the performance by the band Uninterrupted. Uninterrupted, a rock band infused with massive soul, performs all original pieces interpreted by front-woman Anisha Newbill, who is known as Moon. Newbill is ferocious on stage, with Nina Simone-ish vocals and a performance that includes floor crawls, howls and leaps. As fluid as she is nimble, Newbill is unapologetic in her vocal pummels that leave you almost breathless as you listen. The musicians in the band adeptly support Newbill as the front lead, holding their own and breaking free with consistent funk rock fervor.

The Marvin Gaye Jr. Appreciation Day Festival The Marvin Gaye Jr. Appreciation Committee Inc. proudly presented the 22nd Annual Marvin Gaye Jr. Appreciation Day Festival on June 7 at Watts Playground and Recreational Center, located at 6201 Bank St. NE. This free public celebration always strives to heighten awareness and appreciation of the life and musical legacy of Marvin Gaye Jr. through musical showcases and fellowship. It is organized by Geraldine Adams – known as Ms. Peasie – who was a personal friend of Marvin Gaye. Visit www.marvingayefestival. com for more information on the festival and to view pictures from the event.

The Marvin Gaye Festival The aforementioned event is not to be confused 42 ★ East of the River | July 2008

with the Marvin Gaye Festival that has been held annually for years in Marvin Gaye Park, located at Division Avenue and Foote Drive, which was formerly known as Watts Branch Park. The Marvin Gaye Festival is planned in conjunction with Washington Parks and People and was also founded by members of the community. Southeast Washington resident Rod Freeman, who is a member of T.I.M.E. (Time In Motion & Evolution), the group that helped found the annual Marvin Gaye Festival, is pleased with the upsurge in events taking place in Northeast and Southeast. He particularly is pleased with the events’ outreach to all generations of residents and attributes the Marvin Gaye Festival to getting the ball rolling. “I would say that this whole Marvin Gaye project is instrumental in teaching the kids about music that gives a message as opposed to other things like vio-

lence that is being promoted,” says Freeman. “It’s good to show the young kids how to perform and do music that doesn’t have to be negative.” This year’s Marvin Gaye Festival took place June 28 in Marvin Gaye Park and featured acts that performed an array of different genres and appealed to different age groups. Freeman, who works with local youth and teaches them how to record and work in the studio, credits the festival with giving local artists a chance to perform when other venues shut them out. Washington Parks and People have plans to provide more monthly events for community residents and look forward to ideas and input from the community. Visit www.washingtonparks.net for more information.

THEARC THEARC on Mississippi Avenue is home to numerous nonprofit organizations, including the Levine


Intern Aaliya Muhammad proudly displays her first grant award letter from the Humanities Council of Washington, DC, in support of the Ira Blount documentary

The band Uninterrupted is fierce rock and soul led by lead vocalist Anisha Newbill, known as Moon. Photo by Khadijah Ali-Coleman

Meet Aaliya Muhammad, Ward 7’s Brave New Arts Administrator by Deidre R. Gantt

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he Ward 7 Arts Collaborative’s internship program combines the organization’s core principles of youth development and capacity building by transferring skills and inspiration from the community’s seasoned artists to the next generation. Aaliya Muhammad, a 19-yearold student at the University of Maryland – College Park, is one of two dynamic interns currently employed by the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative. Born and raised in Ward 7, Muhammad is yet another example of the deep well of talent waiting to be tapped east of the river.

How did you get interested in the arts?

Shining Starz Dancers showcase their talent at their annual dance show. Photo by Ben “Hook” Dawson

School of Music, the Corcoran and the Boys and Girls Club, which routinely have kid-friendly, culturally rich community events. In the spring, I brought my family out to enjoy an instrument petting zoo sponsored by the National Symphony Orchestra. In June, students in the Shining Starz Dance Troupe, which holds classes in the Covenant House Washington on Saturdays, performed in their annual dance showcase that highlights talent in the various dance forms, including ballet, tap and hip hop. I was honored to host the event, which featured dancers between the ages of 3 and 55. Dance instructor Pat Jackson has held showcases in THEARC for the past three years. She encourages folks to get involved in the offerings in the area. “There is a lot here to offer,” she says. Call Shanika Ross-Wilson at 202-610-9600 for more information on Shining Starz Dance Troupe.

The Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest Washington Parks and People and Liberated Muse Productions will host the first-ever Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest July 26. The Capital Hip Hop Soul Fest will feature 22 musical acts and demonstrations by local vendors and nonprofits throughout the area. Expect performances by national recording artist Rogiers and hip-hop star Substantial, who recently gained media attention as a local artist who has broken into mainstream, appearing on MTV and MTV2 with his latest video “It’s You (I Think).” Check this issue of East of the River for the full-page ad on the event and visit www.capitalhiphopsoulfest.com for details. ★

I’ve always been interested in fashion design. I have drawn designs from the fifth grade until now. While in high school I bought my first sewing machine and finally began bringing my designs to life. I’ve also had a previous interest in writing. In elementary school I would make up stories that included all of my friends as the main characters, and in middle school I wrote poetry.

How did you become an intern with the W7AC? A little over a year ago, I left Fordham University in New York because financial aid wasn’t enough to cover the tuition. I came home and enrolled in community college. To pay for school, I started working a part-time job, which turned into a full-time job with overtime that distracted me from my studies. After eight months, I quit the job so I could reevaluate my goals and life plan. In December 2007 Maurice Hill, an artist/ rapper/lyricist who had worked with me at the African American Music Association two years ago, called. He was an intern for the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative and wanted to recommend me for the receptionist position that needed filling.

What do you like best about working for the Arts Collaborative? There are so many great things about working at the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative, it’s hard to choose! I love that I am part of an organization that continues to have such a positive impact on my community. Without being involved in the youth programs and events that nonprofits

in this community offer, I could have very easily followed a different path.

What are some challenges you face? My biggest challenge is trying to tame my commitments. Through the Arts Collaborative I’m introduced to at least five new workshops, organizations and projects every day that I want to take part in. The organization is very supportive about building capacity in their interns, but it’s my responsibility to remember that there are only 24 hours in a day.

How do you think being an Arts Collaborative intern is helping you now and in the future? My experience here has given me an opportunity to practically apply the things I’m learning in school. This experience has also supplemented my education with knowledge that I wouldn’t find in a classroom.

What advice would you give to other young people who are interested in becoming an intern for a community organization? Don’t be afraid to work for free. … You are gaining valuable experience that will be necessary for entering the workforce. Meet the interns, board of directors, members and supporters of the Ward 7 Arts Collaborative at its second annual meeting, Aug. 15, 6 p.m., at Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, 3939 Benning Road NE. Contact the Arts Collaborative for details at 202-399-1997 or email ward7artscollab@yahoo.com. ★ capitalcommunitynews.com ★ 43

Southeast Stylings: Northeast Flair  

Article by Khadijah Ali-Coleman in East of the River July 2008 issue

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