Minda Rella on This Comic Life (& Death)

The Multiplicity Bio: You might think Minda is actually more than one person, based on all she does each week. By day, you might find her tending cadavers in the morgue at Fay Tech. Or using her vocal talents as an on-air personality for Beasley Media Group. By night, you’ll find her producing and hosting comedy shows for #910Comedy, the stand-up comedy organization she runs with Dashawn Byron, or tapping into the local pin-up/burlesque subculture for fundraisers at Dirtbag Ales. Oh, and there’s podcasts, too: Dead Girls Talking and That’s Just My Face. Add to that parenting her kids and hitting the road for serious social distancing in her Scamp tiny trailer, when Minda says “don’t get stuck on one path,” she speaks from deep life experience.

Don’t get stuck on one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. 

Minda Rella

Favorite Local Third Place: I’m very fond of being on the Hope Mills Lake in my kayak 

3 Things you can’t live without: my kids, my kayak, and my phone 

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Val Humphrey. Her art is amazing. 

Minda and DB prep for a #910Comedy show

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Working (slightly) less

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Putting together a talk show 

On air with former co-host Elic

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? I’m very blessed that I have many people pushing me along. Amber Stevens and Tim Dippel are the loudest cheerleaders. 

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Don’t get stuck in one path. There’s always a different way to get something accomplished if the original plan isn’t working. We have many outlets and a podcast network. 

Honorable Poetry: Law Bullock II

A native of Fayetteville, Lawrence “Law” Bullock II is a motivational speaker, spoken word artist, the founder of M.U.G. Photography, a published author, member of Bronco Toastmasters, and a member of Let’s Make It Happen Together, a nonprofit providing positive alternatives for at-risk / high risk youth and families in our communities. His poetry projects have been in a print anthology, online magazine, and his own book. Law acknowledges that art can connect people from different walks of life. No matter your belief system, art knows how to build bridges.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Sweet Palette and Coffee Scene tie

3 Things you can’t live without: God, family and poetry

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Neil Ray

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: I picked back up drawing and sketching since it all began

What is one of your current artistic experiments?  Structuring poems into a storyline that continues over several pieces

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My Aunt

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Stay true to yourself. Never sacrifice who you are just to fit in with the crowd. There will only be one you that brings what you bring to the art form.


 

Adrienne Trego Transfers Skills and Mediums

Adrienne sporting her own resin earrings.

Artistic bio: Adrienne Trego is a visual artist and non-profit professional from Pennsylvania who has called Fayetteville her home since 2013. She currently works with the Autism Society of Cumberland County as the Director of Programs and Outreach. Prior, most of her nearly 15 years of non-profit experience was with arts organizations.

Art has always been at the center of Adrienne’s life. She is incredibly fortunate to come from an arts-loving family and grew up with access to both professional and community theater, dance and music lessons, and art classes. Having access has made much of her arts administration focus on outreach and accessibility for those who have not had the privilege. Holding a degree in Arts Integration, she sees the arts as a powerful tool for emancipatory and experiential education. As a visual artist, Adrienne works in a variety of mediums, but primarily creates wire sculptures, resin jewelry and has more recently discovered her love for fiber arts, specifically embroidery.

I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration.

Adrienne

Favorite Local Third Place: I haven’t utilized too many of my “Third Places” during the pandemic, but Rude Awakening downtown is one of my very favorite places and has been since we made Fayetteville our home.

3 Things you can’t live without: Flavored seltzer water (I used to be loyal only to La Croix but have since branched out), my good pair of pliers, and while they aren’t “things”, I would be remiss if I answered any set of questions without including my love for not just my pets (mutt extraordinaire Ruby and our cat, the Trash Prince Barley) but most everyone else’s pets too. I am known to get lost in a group tracking down a cute dog or a stray cat.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Oh, there are so many! I have been so lucky to work with so many incredible artists, picking one is so hard. But due in part to my recent obsession with embroidery, I have been really inspired by Nanette Zeller, a mindblowingly talented textile artist (based in Moore County I believe) who I first met in 2014 or 2015. In addition to her amazing talent, she is so humble and incredibly kind and a joy to work with. Her kind words about my beginner embroidery work have been so encouraging.

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Artistically, I have learned to be more diligent about time spent on creative work. Early on in the pandemic, I knew that as an extrovert in isolation I needed to check in on my mental health often, and a consistent artistic practice is always essential to my well being. So I learned to work on at least one of my many ongoing art projects every single day, even if I don’t really feel like it. Unless I was under a deadline for someone, I used to only create when I felt inspired – and there is value to that – but there is also something fascinating about creating work without “inspiration”. It may sound like some artsy self-help nonsense, but I have found truth in the fact that often, the very act of creation is the inspiration. Some of my best work has been produced when I really had to push myself to produce it.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I am currently shrinking down some of my embroidery designs to make them into jewelry. It’s exciting but also feels pretty typical for me, since creating jewelry has always been consistent across any mediums I’ve discovered. But it’s been so interesting to take embroidery – a medium that conjures up very traditional images of samplers and Grandmothers – and do things that turn that idea on its head. In February, I was delighted to participate in “The Vagina Monologues” with the best group of women I could ever imagine, including my sister Devin. As part of this, I also had the opportunity to include some of my visual art, and I chose embroidery as the medium. I ended up primarily embroidering women’s naked bodies (mostly fat ones, too!), as I was inspired by ideas around bodily autonomy and women’s agency. It’s not exactly what one would think of when they think of embroidery, but it’s really a medium that has had a recent rise in popularity, and most of it has been taking a lot of these traditional techniques and using them to create more modern designs.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work? Oh, that’s tough. I am one of those really lucky individuals who is just surrounded by supportive and loving people. I truly can’t pick just one person, my parents, sister, husband, extended family, friends – they have all encouraged my work and most have bought my work, too.

But an early strong influence is my Studio Art teacher in high school, who I am still lucky to be connected with via Facebook. I always was making art, from my earliest memories. But I struggled with a lot of basic drawing, and therefore believed that I was not a good artist. While I have since studied drawing and gotten better, I still gravitate towards other mediums, which I would have never thought of doing if it wasn’t for her encouragement and her introducing me to many materials and techniques that I still lean on today. She had a profound impact on my life and I am so grateful for her early encouragement and to be able to still be connected with her today, some 20 years later.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Go to school for art. I’m serious. So many people seem to have this idea that being an artist isn’t a real profession, or that you have to get a degree in something “practical” or else it’s a waste. This is simply untrue: an art degree is surprisingly practical and flexible. There are so many things that you can do with an art degree – my career is a good example of that. And I use the creative skills I learned in school everyday in my day job and in my personal artistic practice.

Listening and Learning: Singer-Songwriter Lisette

The artistic bio: Blending elements of dark alternative pop with orchestral instrumentation and electronic production, Lisette creates colorful, cinematic soundscapes that are enhanced by her powerful vocals. She is a singer-songwriter born from early influences of rock, alternative, indie pop, and her love for classical music and film scores. Her music is comparable to the likes of Evanescence and BANKS. She began writing songs at 15 and performed at music venues and open mics around her home state of North Carolina. While studying music business and popular music in college, she stumbled upon her love for producing and she released her debut single “Run This Far” in 2018. Lisette won ‘Best Rock Female’ at the 2019 Carolina Music Awards.

Lisette captivates audiences with her haunting voice and lyrical poetry that flows within her songs. Her debut EP Beneath the Surface released November 1, 2019.

Favorite Local Third Place: The Coffee Scene or Rude Awakening! Dirtbag Ales is also one of my favorite nighttime spots.

3 Things you can’t live without: My cat, piano, and acoustic guitar

EP release at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, Nov 2019.

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Lauren Light. She’s actually from Greensboro, NC but I’d still say she’s considered local. She’s a pop singer-songwriter, co-founder of twoOhsix Music, and also runs a podcast called “The Enlightened Musician,” which focuses on the music business and turning your art into a successful business. 

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Lately I’ve been making my morning cup of coffee and sitting on my deck to read and/or journal (if it’s not too hot!). I’ve really been enjoying that morning ritual to clear my mind and feed my imagination before work.

What is one of your current artistic experiments? I actually just finished recording an acoustic version of my debut EP Beneath the Surface with my good friend cellist Justin Mackey. The production of the original EP was electronic pop with cinematic elements and I really wanted to strip everything back and focus on the raw emotions and lyrics of each song. We took each of the five songs and reimagined them using organic instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, and cello.

Lisette and Justin Mackey.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork? My parents have always encouraged me to reach for the stars when it comes to my music. Neil Donnell Ray, who is a pillar of the Fayetteville music scene and hosts The Coffee Scene’s Open Mic Night, has always been a big supporter of mine since I began performing there when I was 16. He’s been around through the years to see my growth as an artist and has always encouraged me. Also, my college music professor Dr. David Lee Fish, cellist Justin Mackey, and, of course, my friends.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? If you want to make a full time living from being an artist, learn as much as you can. Not only about music in general or your instrument of choice but also about the music business itself. In this day and age, it’s crucial to be well rounded and knowledgeable about branding, marketing, social media, booking practices, etc. Gone are the days where record labels develop artists and help them build their fan base. They want to sign artists who have their own following and brand, which they can then help them to achieve even higher heights. With that said, these days you don’t even need a record label to be successful. Social media and the internet has completely changed the game and any artists in any location or any genre can be successful if they have the right tools. Remember, if you don’t know how to do it yourself you will have to pay someone else to do it for you. This is why I’ve taught myself music production, graphic design, video editing, website design, photography, etc on top of getting my Bachelors degree in Music Business and Popular Music.


Merry Musician Michael Daughtry

The professional bio: Michael Daughtry is a singer/songwriter from North Carolina. He graduated from Berklee College of Music (magna cum laude) where he received several performer/songwriter awards for his infectious song crafting. He gigged at the Charles Playhouse periodically for Blue Man Group performances in Boston. His current songs reflect the trials and joys of life. He has recently received recognition from artists such as John Ford Coley, Derek Trucks, Edwin McCain, Luenell, Guy Torry, Jocko Sims, Bleu, Dale Baker (Sixpence None the Richer), and Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish. He has performed for fifty and fifty thousand in his career. He teaches acoustic guitar and piano. 

Favorite Local Third Place: My mom and dad’s house.

3 Things you can’t live without: Peanut Butter, my Calendar, Coffee

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Wow it’s hard to pick just one, but El’Ja Bowens

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Online private music instruction

What is one of your current artistic experiments? Get the Drift. It’s a half hour weekly life streaming event with music, recurring segments, games, and ridiculousness. 

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your artwork?: The living legend that is Neil Ray!

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre?
Write out a few one year, five year, and ten year goals. Keep them to yourself (or share with a trusted love one). Make friends with at least a few folks who share your goals. Find mentors!

Fayetteville’s Prince of Poetry: El’Ja Bowens

El’Ja Bowens is one of the most relentlessly positive people I know: he encourages everyone he meets, raises up other artists, and is consistently working on his own craft and helping grow the spoken word/poetry slam scene here in Fayetteville and across the state. “Purpose over Popularity” is his guiding mantra, yet his focus and kindness makes El’Ja one of the most popular artists around town. He celebrates his birthday at the end of July! Show him some love by attending one of his virtual events and purchasing his work. Don’t forget to follow him on the socials for the October release of his upcoming book 3:10: A Poetic Journey Through Life Hacks

El'Ja Bowens takes the mic
photo credit Jackson Hall

The professional bio: LeJuane (El’Ja) Bowens is an award-winning spoken word artist, poet, speaker, and author.  He is also the first poet to have his work in the Obama Art Museum located in Raleigh, NC (the first and only of its kind in North Carolina). In 2014, he was recognized as the first ever NC Poet to compete in three major Grand Slam Finals in three different cities in North Carolina the same year. He is the founder/director for the Southeast Regional NC Poetry Festival in Fayetteville, NC and he has featured on Poetry Slam Inc and All Def Poetry on YouTube. He also hosts Nerd Slam competitions at numerous comicons across the US. Cashapp: $eljapoetry

Favorite Local Third Place: It’s a three way tie actually. The Sweet Palette for its art gallery for local artists. Winterbloom Tea for its laid back vibe, and Stop_Button because of the gamer/Nerd in me.

3 Things you can’t live without: Family, creativity, and faith

Local artist (any genre) you admire: Hands down: Neil Ray. He is a mentor of mine and many others and he is one of the few that gave Fayetteville the poetry scene. He is considered the Godfather of Poetry and many writers in the area would agree that he earned that title.

El'Ja sits with a book in front of library stacks,
Photo credit Sean Wright

A practice you’ve started during quarantine that you plan to continue: Playing the guitar. Been at it for a month and a half now so I can only go up from here.

What is one of your current artistic experiments: Online events. I’ve been able to create two events: one being based off of nerd discussion while the other interviews artists from all artforms. I was blessed to have Tony Todd from “Final Destination” and “Candyman” to be our first guest and there are many more to come.

Who is someone who encouraged or championed your art work: My wife, Monica Haynes Bowens. She’s always motivating me, always challenging me. She knows how to pull out what I need to create at the moments when I don’t see it.

What advice would you give to new/younger/less experienced artists in your genre? Keep writing, keep creating. Greatness does not come overnight and the more you give yourself goals to accomplish, the better it is for you to not become stagnant.