By Daniel Warren Hill
One side effect of listening to the music of Dior Ashley Brown is, at least in part, a better understanding of the contagious energy behind the DC Music Summit, the event and organization she founded. Celebrating its fifth year, DCMS (for short) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports local musicians and the DC music industry by fostering inclusion, community engagement, professional development, and networking. Both DCMS and Brown’s music command the presence of something altogether powerful, uplifting, and convicting.
Dubbed the “Hip-Hop Polymath” by the Washington Post, Dior Ashley Brown defines art through a wide lens of intersections and correlations, enabling her to balance the roles of musician, actor, poet, playwright, activist, Emcee, business owner, and more. She has performed solo and as part of all-female powerhouse groups F.L.O.T.U.S. (First Ladies of the Urban Scene) and IZA FLO at notable venues, including the Kennedy Center, WUSA9 DMV Soundcheck, 9:30 Club, and Apple Carnegie Library.
Held annually in Washington D.C., DC Music Summit combines all the various aspects of the music business or music industry that Dior Ashley Brown has educated herself on throughout her career. Perhaps one of the biggest transitions is from Eaton Hotel, where the event is normally held, to Brown’s alma mater, Duke Ellington School of the Arts. This year’s theme, ‘Foundation,’ is a topic broad enough to guide us every which direction between concept and literalism. While Brown’s musical foundations extend farther back than Duke Ellington School of the Arts, there’s no denying the impact that her time there had on its students since it was established in 1974. Alumni and comedian Dave Chapelle has been outspoken about his ties to Duke Ellington, and, as was reported in The Washington Post, recently unveiled the Theatre for Artistic Freedom & Expression, declining the honor of having the student theater named after himself.
Empowerment is perhaps one of the greatest resources the DC Music Summit has provided since 2016. That comparison could be made to Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which serves to combine academia and the arts into an integrated curriculum. Dior Ashley Brown says that particular foundation isn’t going anywhere. “It still has a similar model, which is to inspire and empower musicians and industry professionals. The awesome part of it is it’s at a space I always wanted it to be at, my alma mater. I feel like, in the past, art schools didn’t really have that business component. There were aspects of the business component, like teaching you how to get the audition, or how to present yourself in front of the camera to get the gig, or things like that, but for me, it wasn’t really about the business. Artists are businesses, industry professionals are businesses; they are small businesses…There is a benefit in understanding the business so it doesn’t seem so scary. Once I started getting more informed, I was like, ‘Oh, I want my people to be more informed,’ and that’s creatives, BIPOC, and women.”
All backgrounds and genres are welcome to attend, volunteer, present, or perform at DC Music Summit, but the Summit’s heart and focus on representing underrepresented communities is seen and felt. The diverse and inclusive community within the greater metropolitan Washington D.C. shows up. They share openly, and folks who are otherwise actively pursuing their own individual careers throughout the year are all congregated together to give what they can and take what they will. Rubbing elbows with artists and industry professionals throughout the event that are equally as dialed in as you are is itself a motivation. The desire to return next year to share new developments and share in the growth of other professionals in the region is strong.
“DC Music Summit was a fantastic event with a mix of educational sessions, discussion panels, and artist performances,” says musician and podcaster, Arvind Venugopal. The Summit pulls no punches, tapping into its extensive network from within and without the region to bring Grammy-nominated artists, producers, and educators into an intimate setting with attendees. That includes Kokayi, Christylez Bacon, and Carolyn Malachi, just to name a few. Singer-songwriter and educator Emma G notes, “On a selfish level, being able to sort of take a stance for the first time and step into my own power…I’ve been a professional in the industry for almost 15 years, and that’s a beautiful thing, and I’ve got knowledge and I deserve to be respected and acknowledged as such. That’s what something like the DC Music Summit gives because it is such a highly revered DC area event and to have other people recognize my intellect and my experience was powerful and impactful on my own career and mindset.” Emma G. has since gone on to speak at TEDx events, host her own Youth Empowerment Through Songwriting coaching program, and is presently MC of "Voices for Choice": a musical showcase series in support of women's reproductive rights held at Songbyrd Music House, one of DCMS’ consistent partners and sponsors, along with fellow local venues Pie Shop and The Pocket.
Accelerate with Google sponsored the first ever DC Music Summit in DC. Organized by Aerica Banks of Google, Dior Ashley Brown, and Jonna Humphries of Moog Music. “Having Google as a sponsor had everybody’s eyes, like, ‘Oh, I need to go to that.’” Brown also acknowledges the city of D.C.’s Office of Cable Television, Film, Music and Entertainment (OCTFME) and Creative Affairs Office “Wanted to dig a bit deeper, and had been consistent in supporting our movement and pushing us forward.” Alchemical Records and DC Strings are among the new local sponsors this year. Local recording studios Machine Room Studio and Innovation Station Music are among returning sponsors this year. Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center are among returning sponsors this year and who have stayed involved year-round. “Anytime I need sound equipment for a DC Music Summit Event, they are wow. I just love Chuck Levin’s. I love Adam Levin. I am just in awe of their support, back and forth support that he gives me every year.” Additional sponsors this year include Porchfest DC, Born Brown, TTJ Productions, Church of the Holy City, Songpoll, Catharsis On The Mall, Just Rock Enterprises, Emergent Seed, and We Act Radio. “We have been blessed with some awesome sponsors who really make sure we have what we need,” says Brown.
Volunteers and the volunteer mindset are crucial for any non-profit. Simply being willing, and showing up is an accomplishment in itself. On the day of the event DC Music Summit will need help on many levels from greeting to ushering, photography and video recording, to communications and coordination. Between now and then there is also the opportunity to like, share, and comment on the promotional content you discover on DCMS social media or its website. Part of our mission at Alchemical Records has been to give where we can when we can, but our desire is to keep an event like the DC Music Summit on the minds of our readers throughout the year because the effects from last year are still blossoming into something we can’t quite describe yet. To be a witness to the impact the event has had and is continuing to have is humbling and we can only imagine what the future may hold. Suffice it to say that if you are an individual who is a perpetual learner or has a heart willing to contribute, there is a place for you at DC Music Summit.
“A lot of people say, even people who I want to lead sessions or represent the industry, ‘Oh, Dior, I’m not for Amazon or Sony,’ and I say, ‘But we are the DMV though. DC has really been, like, uniquely and independently making our programming. We make what we want it to be.We say we want an awards ceremony. Boom! We’ve got The Wammies, you know what I’m saying? We say we want a funk festival. Boom! We’ve got DC Funk Parade. We say we want to educate and have music business, we’ve got Made In DC and DC Music Summit. Boom!” Whatever we want to make happen, we make it happen. That is DC.”
Learn more about DCMS 2022 at https://www.dcmusicsummit.org/faqs.html. Register today to volunteer, attend, present, or perform. Make it happen.
We asked a member of our DMV music community, Brett Walking Eagle, to share his perspective as a Native American musician, and why it’s important to recognize and uplift Native people and artists for Native American Heritage Month and beyond.
My name is Brett Walking Eagle. I’m Dakota Sioux and a tribal member of the Fort Peck Sioux and Assiniboine Reservation. I play guitar, bass, drums, keys, percussion, and flute.
For a long time, and even today, people have this image of “The Indian” in their minds eye. Stoic. Unflinching. On horseback with their hair in the wind. The wise, old elder in the tipi. Movies, television, and logos all feed that imagination of paint, spears, drums, and war cries. Most US citizens think that Native people are like dinosaurs; beings that once roamed these lands but have now disappeared.
My brother and I sometimes joke about growing up around here in the DMV. Every time people learn of our last name, one of three things happen. (Or all three!)
1) There’s an awkward pause accompanied with a “...what?” or “...say that again?”
2) A general disbelief; usually expressed by an immediate “no way!” or “you serious?”
And then 3) “THAT’S (expletive) SICK BRUH” “That’s the coolest last name I ever heard!”
One person told me point blank that I was the first Native American they’d ever met in their life.
And that’s my point. We’re still here. We’re still alive. The US Government and military didn’t kill us all. We still belong.
What I’d like to see happen is a shift in perspective and recognition. I believe the way you do that is through exposure to our cultures. Were we warriors? Best believe we were. (And still are!) Do we still have our tipi’s, our feathers, and our drums? You bet. Do we have long hair and ride horses from time to time? Sure. But we’re much more faceted than that.
We coach sports. We’re actors and actresses. We’re educators. We’re physicians. We’re engineers. We’re fashion designers. We’re filmmakers. We’re scientists. We’re business owners. We’re community leaders. Me? I’m a musician. I can play the powwow drum and flute, but I can also play heavy rock, Neo soul, and reggae on my guitar and bass. Musically, native people can do more than sit around a fire with a drum and sing ‘heyaheyaheya’ like some people think.
This is who I am. I am a Dakota Sioux man. I’m a musician and a teacher and the message I want to tell people is this: We are still here, and we are more than an image or idea. We are people.
Brett Walking Eagle
A Dakota Sioux man, a musician, and a teacher
H Street Festival is one of the most anticipated and highly attended single day festivals in Washington D.C. The festival is 11 blocks long and has 14 staging areas that are diversely themed and programmed to target the different segments of audiences. The staging areas feature music of different genres, dance, youth based performances, interactive children’s program, fashion, heritage arts, poetry and many more. Learn more at hstreetfestival.org
"DCMS is proud to be programming at the comeback of the 2021 H Street Festival, we are continually creating awareness in spreading the word about our our organization, membership opportunities, and our yearly summit. We want to be a leading nonprofit known for empowering our creative community.” - DCMS Founder, Dior Ashley Brown
One of DC’s most innovative and enduring artists, Uptown XO has established himself locally and nationally with inspirational songs that touch on hard issues from family and culture to race and gentrification.
Born Jamaal Walton, XO grew up immersed in the culture of the District of Columbia, inheriting a love of hip-hop from his parents who were both musicians. Formally launching his career in 2009 with his first mixtapes, he quickly became a staple on the city’s rap scene, hosting his own weekly showcase where he built a community of like-minded talented artists. After signing with former Roc-a-fella Executive Kenny Burns’ label Studio 43, he released the classic Monumental and 1.1.10 projects, with Spin Magazine calling Monumental 2 one of their top 50 mixtapes of the decade. He went on to join Diamond District with whom he toured the world and made high profile festival appearances at SXSW, A3C, and Trillectro. XO continued on his own solo career, highlighted by his 2013 album Colour De Grey, which HipHopDX praised for its “agile rhymes and detailed storytelling.” Following that up with a series of collaborations with Aleem Bilal, he has kept up a steady output of fresh material, maintaining his reputation as one of the most vital rappers in DC.
Jenna Camille is a singer-songwriter from Accokeek, Maryland whose music is "a heady mix of R&B with elements of jazz, hip-hop and electronic music," as described by The Washington Post, which "evokes the anything-goes apotheosis of neo-soul".
Growing up, Jenna received formal training in piano, studying at the New Sewell Music Conservatory and DC's esteemed Duke Ellington School of the Arts. She then majored in jazz studies at both Michigan State University and the University of the District of Columbia. At the same time, Jenna has performed at a wide range of events, including the Chale Wote Street Art Festival in Accra, Ghana, and the Common Ground Music Festival in Lansing, Michigan. She has also shared bills with acts like Hollie Cook and Damu the Fudgemunk, among others. in 2018, She and Portugal-based producer, Pedro Ricardo, released their joint album “This Is What I’m Going Through” on Wolf Music Recordings. The album was featured on I-D France, BBC Radio, Stamp the Wax, Bolting Bits,NTS Radio and Virgil Abloh’s Televised Radio. She currently tours with Jazz-Spokenword group, Heroes Are Gang Leaders and is signed to HipNott Records.
DREW KEYS is a keyboardist, producer, and teacher in the DC metro music scene. He produced the Beat Box Go-Go remix and co-produced Kodak Black - Gleerious.
Drew Keys has been a versatile keyboardist in the Washington DC Go-Go Community for over 16 years. He currently is also a Music Instructor for people ranging in age from age 2 to adults. Drew has performed with many local artists and bands including The Go-Go Symphony, TCB, Wale, Ari Lennox, Trina, WillThaRapper, & Noochie. You can also catch him producing music with The AIM Society (A Multimedia Branding Collective). He is a veteran in his field with a wide variety of experience to include: performances at select nightclubs, weddings, private events, festivals. As well as producing original tracks and remixes. Not only specializing in the genre of GO-GO, Drew loves to vibe to Hip- Hop, R&B, Reggae, and EDM and Alternative Music.
Tell us your story! What inspired you to become an artist?
A few years ago, I was in a relationship that inspired me to start writing. I've always been a music head, loved art, fashion and everything entertainment. I've never written any songs until that relationship and my then person who was also an artist helped me discover my hidden talent, and I haven't looked back ever since.
DCMS strives on educating and inspiring the local music community. Is there another musician you have mentored? How did you help them thrive in the music industry?
I haven't personally mentored any musician yet, however, I have provided a few artists my input on creative direction and figuring out their sound.
What current projects are in the works?
Currently, I’m preparing for the release of two new singles as well as my new apparel line.
What’s the best piece of advice a musician gave you?
"It's a marathon and not a race, take your time, work hard and be consistent."
How do you feel DCMS can continue supporting the local music industry and beyond?
To continue to advocate for local musicians, investing in programs that bring more attention to the DC music scene, as well as creating more hubs where we as musicians can express ourselves freely and get more exposure.
What is one fun fact about you?
I used to be a cheerleader and have several awards to prove it!
Written by DCMS Fundraising Team Lead Megan Dunn
If you’re reading this, you’re a part of our village. Whether you’re a DMV creative, a supporter of the arts, someone who believes in our mission, or you came upon us by chance—there’s a reason you’re here.
Together, we’ve kept the DC Muscic Summit community activated throughout the pandemic. We engaged each other on Instagram live to share how we’re #CreatingInCOVID, held virtual concerts with local favorites, celebrated events like Black Music Month and Pride Month, and of course we rocked the Virtual DCMS 2021. And we’re still building...
Riding the vibes of the last four years and focusing on a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning, networking, and inspiration, we’re building a membership-based, creative professional development organization! Our mission is realized through:
Invest in DCMS
Our prolific team of volunteers support events, programming, technology, and marketing—and we want to operate on the next level. To get there, we need the freedom to serve the community around-the-clock.
We set a goal of $2,000 to formally establish a 501(c)(3) non-profit, needed to secure grant funding and in-kind resources. This status will expand our capacity to serve the DMV independent creative community, and realize our vision to be their go-to resource to advance their creative careers.
You—our villager—have been an incredible source of support and positive momentum throughout our existence as an idea, and as a community. Help us cross the finish line of becoming a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit.
“It’s Bigger Than Hip-Hop”
In the wake of 2020, we learned so many hard and powerful lessons that came with a tidal wave of action to fight racism and sexism. The country's racial reckoning sparked new efforts to rectify years of gross underfunding of Black women founders, and we’re here to keep that momentum, and grow intersectional progress.
Dior, our founder and Executive Director, is a woman artist of color, who intentionally activated a diverse community that spans all ages, demographics, orientations, and ethnicities, and our mission in programming is to reflect our diverse culture. DC Music Summit values social justice, inclusion, and generational healing. And this undertaking cannot be done without the support of our village!
You can share our GoFundMe with your networks; you never know who we could reach! THANK YOU, AND MAY PEACE AND MUSIC BE WITH YOU!
1. Tell us your story! What inspired you to become a rapper?
I was 12 and living in South Africa. I came home from school one day and saw the music video for "Gimme Some More" by Busta Rhymes. I didn't know what rap was at the time, and I was fascinated by what was happening on my TV screen. Here was this man, with high-energy, depicting all my favorite cartoons and going crazy to this track! I loved cartoons and Busta Rhymes showed me that it was possible to grow up and essentially be a living cartoon. Even though I did not know what he was doing, I knew that whatever it was, I wanted to do the same.
2. You’re working on releasing your first mixtape “Plutography: The Mixtape that Makes You Richer” under your label, MSP Records. What’s the mixtape about?
Plutography is essentially the B-Side to my upcoming album *C*R*E*A*M*. Plutography has all the songs that didn't make it onto *C*R*E*A*M*. It includes collaborations, freestyles, and some fun experimental songs. My first two projects, Plutography and *C*R*E*A*M* are about my success and failures with money. Plutography means the depiction of luxury and the lifestyle of the rich, with "Pluto-" being the suffix for money. I discovered this word when I was trying to find the words to describe my obsession with money. I am a Pluto maniac.
3. What are your thoughts about the music scene in the DMV area?
There is a solid underground music scene in DC. There are a lot of extremely talented musicians and artist who do not get enough recognition. With DC being the seat of the government, I think the DC market is a bit bougie for the underground scene though... I find that our community likes larger, organized events, where they can be "seen". The clout chasing vibe does not lend itself too well to upcoming artist who have yet to gain the clout they seek. Otherwise, I personally love it. I wish there were more opportunities to come together and collaborate.
4. What type of musician would you prefer to collaborate with?
I would prefer to collaborate with musicians who are open to experimenting. Let's make something weird. Let's push the boundaries. You can't be scared when exploring your creative side. I also want to work with artists who invest in marketing their craft and growing their career. As much as I love rapping, I am also trying to go places, so I need to surround myself with likeminded people. So, let's experiment, find something unique and awesome, and then let's go capitalize on it.
5. How do you feel DCMS can continue supporting the local music industry and beyond?
I think DCMS is doing a great job. I think the one thing artists can't get enough of is more outlets for their music. I think creating a database of people and more networking opportunities. For example, "speed dating for musicians", where it’s not dating, but more so a networking event where you can quickly meet a lot of people in an organized format to find opportunities to collaborate. So, more mixers. I think we try to have a lot of events and performances and what not, but sometimes it’s just nice to get together, chat, and connect.
6. What is one fun fact about you?
I love games. It doesn't matter what kind; I absolutely love games. It's not about the competition, it's more so about the strategy. It tickles me.
Written by DCMS Marketing Team Lead, Jade Dixon
DCMS Marketing Team Lead Jade Dixon had the pleasure of interviewing Shellée Haynesworth, who is an award-winning director, producer, writer, storyteller, and creator of the Black Broadway on U.
Who is Shellée Haynesworth?
Shellée Haynesworth is a multigenerational Washingtonian. Ms. Haynesworth has worked on the staff at Black Entertainment Television (BET), WJLA-TV (ABC affiliate in Washington, DC), and for projects delivered to HBO/Time Warner, PBS, TV One, and the local network affiliates, among others. She has filmed across the United States and internationally to produce and develop compelling long and short content to surface new stories, illuminate fresh histories and strengthen the ties that bind us in our common humanity. Her clients include Smithsonian Institution, USAID, Gates Foundation, PBS, AD Council, Black Entertainment Television, TV One, Whitman Walker Health, and HBO, among others.
What is Black Broadway on U?
The Black Broadway on U: A Transmedia Project was launched in February 2014, which is a groundbreaking multi-platform story and public history initiative created to amplify, chronicle, preserve and enhance, the under-told story, cultural legacy, local memories, and voices of Washington, D.C.’s marginalized Black community along with the historic greater U Street community when it was known as “Black Broadway,” a city within a city.
The goal is to amplify these black community voices and their “first hand” memories to preserve a truer, “authentic” narrative of this historic American moment in time and humanities experience to foster knowledge and civic engagement around the important role of social justice, arts, history, and culture — thus allowing communities of color to “learn from their past to REIMAGINE and REDEFINE, from the ground up, the 21st century African American experience” amid today’s rapidly changing demographic and cultural landscape in urban America, specifically in Washington, D.C.
During our interview, Shellée discussed her passion behind the Black Broadway on U project, her take on the local entertainment industry, and how it has impacted the Washington, DC culture.
What was the moment that encouraged you to begin the Black Broadway on U Project?
In Spring 2013, I was riding along the U Street Corridor with my grandmother. I had missed my turn on 14th and U Street because everything had changed drastically. As we were riding, we were talking about how the community was changing. During that moment, she would was telling me stories about her experience on U Street. Then it dawned on me that we never took a deep dive into her story of how she landed in D.C. She was a part-time barber along the U Street quarter. At that moment, it struck me that we need to hear these stories from our elders and this prominent black history that took place along the U Street Corridor.
What do you consider was a major factor in changing the dynamic of the city?
What killed the black business community was the construction of the metro in the early ’80s. The project took so long and it was very difficult to drive around the area. If you go to Ben’s Chili Bowl, you will see pictures of the metro development in the U Street area.
Besides the Lincoln and Howard Theater, Republic Gardens is the oldest club that was black-owned that still remains from the Black Broadway era. Someone has purchased the site, but no development has taken place.
COVID-19 has impacted a lot of black owned businesses in the Downtown DC area, especially, the music venues located in the U Street Corridor. DC Music Summit is an advocate for supporting and maintaining the presence of our local music venues. How do you feel about the venues being shut down? How do you feel this will impact the entertainment industry in the city?
I think it’s sad. It’s a lot of reasons but it’s because of COVID and the change of demographics. The people who patronize the jazz clubs and music venues have a different appetite for what they are seeking in terms of music that may not pair with the smaller venues. I think larger venues like The Anthem have impacted the smaller and intimate venues like The Bohemian Caverns and Twins. The music industry in general has changed as well. There are certain genres that are no longer represented on the radio anymore. Thank goodness we still have WPFW and WHUR 96.3, but that’s all impacting this whole shift in music and how we are processing the music.
Before COVID, I visited Twins and there were only three people which is sad. I think the people who are coming into the city are impacting it as well.
During the ‘80s and ‘90s, what were your favorite music venues in DC?
I would say Takoma Station, HR57, and Utopia on 14th and U. I used to go to Republic Gardens and Cafe Nema on U Street to catch live jazz and Neo-Soul performances.
Shellee is a true treasure to our local black community and we appreciate her time and efforts in making sure we embrace our ancestor’s stories and how they impacted our culture today. You can learn more about Black Broadway on U at their website http://blackbroadwayonu.com/. Please show your support and follow them on Instagram @blackbroadwayonu.
The National Hispanic Heritage Month (Spanish: Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana) occurs from September 15 - October 15. This is the month to honor and recognize the contributions and influence of Hispanic Americans in our country.
Hispanic Heritage Month began as a weekly event. It was a legislation sponsored by Rep. Edward R. Roybal of Los Angeles and was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1968. In 1988, the commemorative week was expanded to a month (September 15 to October 15) by Rep. Esteban Edward Torres (D-Pico Rivera), amended by Senator Paul Simon and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan.
September 15 was chosen as the starting point for the commemoration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Hispanic countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, who all declared independence in 1821. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and September 21 respectively.
Influence of Latin and Hispanic Music in DC
No one can deny the huge influence that Hispanics and people from Hispanic descent have had in contributing to the growth and well being of the United States of America. Today, Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in the United States. One of the many cities Hispanic culture has influenced is Washington, DC. There are some cultural similarities that bring our diverse backgrounds together, such as language, cuisine, religion and most importantly, music.
Washington, DC has an incredibly rich Latin and Hispanic local music scene. From Rock to *Cumbia, *Son Jarocho, and Mariachi to *Vallenato, Salsa, and Hip-Hop, DC embraces it all. I’ve had the pleasure and honor to perform next to talented musicians, such as: Spanish Rock Band “Sonic Castaways”, Son Jarocho Band “Son la Lucha”, Mariachi Band “Los Gallos Negros” Latin Hip-Hop Artist “Brooklyn the Kid”, Andean Duo WAYTA, and many more. Everytime I leave one of my peers' shows, I am completely energized with happiness and joy.
The majority of the Latin and Hispanic shows you find in the DMV, generally speaking, take place at Tropicalia and Bossa Bistro Lounge, or during the festivals that highlight the international music scene like the Funk Parade and H Street Festival. We have such a rich, diverse, and vibrant local music scene in Washington, DC, partly because of the huge support from Jim Thompson’s Multiflora Productions, which is a multifaceted, multicultural agency that specializes in expanding the reach of genre-bending roots-to-the-future music.
How COVID-19 Impacted DC’s Music Scene
With the current situation of the music industry, and the pause on all the live shows along with the closure of venues in the DC area such as: U Street Music Hall, Kitty O’Shea’s, Eighteenth Street Lounge, and more looming in the shadows due to our current reality, I worry about the fate of the few venues that support Latin and Hispanic music and the future of Latin music live shows in the DMV as a whole.
Despite this I remain hopeful that we can turn this around to our favor by joining our powers; my vision for the future, once COVID has passed, is that we keep building those bridges in the DMV music community so that everyone involved in the music industry, regardless of the music genre they play, has a chance to be heard in more stages around the DMV area. This is also part of the reason why I joined DCMS, because I believe that united we create a stronger community and a better music experience for people who love and enjoy music as much as we do.
#HispanicHeritageMonth on Instagram
As a way to acknowledge the Hispanic and Latino music community during #HispanicHeritageMonth, DCMS is highlighting well-known local Latino artists/bands on Instagram (@dcmusicsummit) throughout the month to celebrate.
We will also be hosting a #DCMS Concert Series Fundraiser featuring Domino Saints in November. The fundraiser will help raise money for the virtual 2021 DC Music Summit, so we can continue the work of empowering our DMV community to thrive in the evolving music industry. The concerts will be streamed live on DMCS’ Facebook Page and the band’s YouTube channel. We will also have a special DJ guest. Stay tuned for more information!
*Son jarocho ("Veracruz Sound") is a regional folk musical style of Mexican Son from Veracruz, a Mexican state along the Gulf of Mexico. The instruments most commonly associated with son jarocho are the jarana jarocha, a small guitar-like instrument used to provide a harmonic base, with some double strings arranged in a variety of configurations.
*Vallenato (Spanish pronunciation: [baʝeˈnato]), is a popular folk music genre of Colombia's Caribbean region. Vallenato music is Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, according to UNESCO.
The traditional instruments of Vallenato are: the caja vallenata: a small drum held between the knees and played with bare hands. It was used by the African slaves brought by the Europeans. the guacharaca: a wooden, ribbed stick similar to a sugar cane, accompanied by a fork that when rubbed together emits a scraping sound. the accordion: three-line button, German-origin accordion. It has three reeds per note and comes in different tones: ADG, GCF, and BbEbAb
*Cumbia [ˈkumbja] is a folkloric genre and dance from Colombia. Since 1940s, commercial or modern colombian cumbia expanded to the rest of Latin America, after which it became popular throughout the continent following different commercial adaptations, such as Argentine cumbia, Bolivian cumbia, Chilean cumbia, cumbia Dominican, Ecuadorian cumbia, Mexican cumbia, Peruvian cumbia, Salvadoran cumbia, Uruguayan cumbia, and Venezuelan cumbia, among others. The three drums common to traditional cumbia are: tambora (for deep bass rhythms), tambor alegre or mid-drum (used for backup rhythm), and llamador (also providing backbeat)
About the Writer:
Maryland-based writer and musician Cynthia Gross seeks to inspire an awakening to all we are and all we can become. With a passion for language in all of its forms and nearly a decade of experience in the marketing industry, She is a light seeker who understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
Written by Cynthia Gross
August 25, 2020
Chance encounters sometimes result in the most memorable experiences. Perhaps it’s how you met your significant other or were first inspired to pursue your passion as a creative. While it can be tempting to attribute chance encounters with a stroke of luck, I tend to think they are much deeper and more significant.
My Honest Expectation
Case in point: Last year, I was assigned by Alchemical Records to cover the DC Music Summit, an annual full-day event designed to elevate and grow the DC music industry. As one of the publication’s writers at the time and an independent musician, I knew the DC Music Summit was a relevant story opportunity, but I admit, I was skeptical about the experience.
Like many of us, I’ve attended a number of conferences that provide high-level generalizations and cliché advice, at best, where you walk away thinking, “How could I have been fooled by marketing-speak?” That was my expectation. What I found was much different.
The Surprising Reality
From the moment I stepped into the lobby of Eaton Hotel DC, the conference venue, I felt a warmth that was palpable. DC Music Summit founder, Dior Ashley Brown, a DC-based artist extraordinaire, dubbed the “Hip-Hop Polymath” by the Washington Post, made it clear that the DC Music Summit is more than your average conference, and she was right! With more than 300 attendees, including the region’s top presenters, panelists, performers, and vendors, the conference covered topics ranging from making money on the road to inclusivity in music.
The conference was a refreshing reminder that in the midst of a world that creates labels and tries to tear us apart based on markers such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation, partnership still exists. Like the Kenyan proverb says, “Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.” I left the event inspired, uplifted, and excited about what was in store for the 2021 conference.
Recently, I caught up with the DC Music Summit leadership team. In exchange for sharing a valuable piece of fitness advice (the ladies got to stay fit in COVID, I’m just saying), I got a sneak peek of what’s in store for next year’s DC Music Summit. Here’s what I know: The 2021 DC Music Summit will be online. At last year’s conference, I heard a number of attendees comment about how difficult it was to select a concurrent session since all of the topics were so intriguing and relevant. Next year, the virtual platform lends itself to the event to be even bigger and more in-depth, and provide more opportunities to attend the program sessions you want.
Trusting the Process
These are unprecedented times in our country and our world. People are struggling, forced to change course and chart a new one. Some of us have lost loved ones. Uncertainty, fear, and anxiety seem to cloud our vision. Perhaps more than anything, this season has taught us that things can change in an instant. Be fluid. Cherish little and big moments. Love generously. Live in gratitude.
It has also reminded us of the healing power of music. Somehow, through it all, music serves as a balm that enables us to face our fear and doubt with courage. This spirit of resilience is at the heart of the DC Music Summit. Growing and thriving as a creative must start within and reverberate outward. When things change, we don’t give up. We innovate. We acknowledge the process as part of our journey to become all that we were meant to be.
Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional details on the 2021 DC Music Summit.
Are you a creative looking for resources on how to navigate the pandemic? Check out the DC Music Summit’s COVID-19 resource portal.
Written by: Jade Dixon, DCMS TEAM
Date: July 20, 2020
Some people listen to music as a way to escape life, but for others, music is life.
I had the opportunity to speak with our founder Dior Ashley Brown, a DC-based artist extraordinaire, dubbed the “Hip-Hop Polymath” by The Washington Post, about how DC Music Summit (DCMS) is utilizing its platform to help local musicians successfully navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. DCMS is a leader in emphasizing the value of underrepresented artists and teaching artists how to evolve and thrive in the music industry. As the norm of life changes, it is crucial to encourage creatives to stay motivated and practice their craft.
“You have to keep moving towards your goals even within our current limitations, make time for self-care, knock out that list of things you’ve been wanting to get done like reading, advancing your skills, getting deeper in your craft. This is definitely the time to go within to meditate/pray, to reset. ” -- Dior Ashley Brown
Dior provided tips below on how to keep grinding during COVID-19:
1. Don't stop creating. It’s our time to do what we love, and what is sorely needed. Music is like a muscle. The more you train it, the more it activates. Creating is a way of finding yourself, expanding on your capabilities, and evolving into a stronger sense of being.
2. Invest in yourself and your craft. Yes, it's necessary to believe in you! Invest time, energy, and resources into your passion. Take that class, read that book, save up for that piece of equipment. Investing in you and what you love can reap rewards.
3. Ride the wave. Storms and obstacles will come. Jump over those hurdles. Those challenges are there to make you stronger and to show what you're made of. Realize it, acknowledge it, tend to it, and attempt to heal at your pace as best you can to see yourself on the other side of it. You can do this!
4. Stay spiritually healthy both inside and out. Health is wealth and we’ve heard it many times before. Feed your spirit with goodness, meditation, positive energy, outdoor activities, and self care.
5. Never stop learning. There’s a saying, “You're only as old as your ability to process information.” From my interpretation, you age the moment you decide there isn’t anymore to learn. But, the awesome part about life is that there is always something new to learn every single day.
There is no finish line, and there is no rush. Use these tips as a way to guide you through this pandemic and your everyday life. As you continue working towards your goals, remember that going after your dreams is no easy feat. Just keep moving towards those challenges, and success will follow.
We want to hear from you! Share your tips and tricks on how you cope as an artist during these challenging times in the comments below.