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All Together Now – A Movement For Inclusion

All Together Now is an organization founded on the grounds of diversity and inclusivity. Founding member Anna Rae describes its mission as  to “make space for women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ performers in partnership with allies, combine genres into sensory-rich and surprising experiences, and increase collaboration between NYC and Boston.” A folk & rock performer herself, Anna Rae became disenchanted by a lack of diversity in the Greater Boston area arts scene. Women and people of color were vastly underrepresented, she noticed. Additionally, and equally if not more troubling, various members of the LGBTQ+ community conveyed to her a sense of having to “mask” their art in order to gain wider acceptance. This notion of having to adapt and compromise one’s personal and artistic integrity as a means of gaining more opportunities for exposure to share one’s inherent talents ate away at Anna Rae.

It’s simply not right. Art in any form, if nothing else, should be genuine and true to the performer’s own background and experiences. No artist should have to dilute their work for fear of mass rejection and general close-mindedness. As such, Anna Rae sought to “create a space where all identities would be welcomed, celebrated, and supported. That includes cis straight white men who want to experience and celebrate diversity.” Anna Rae’s passion for inclusiveness is authentic and all-encompassing. In her own words, “it’s about all of us, together, creating space that is innovative, celebratory, and healthy.” With that strong and noble sentiment as a backdrop, All Together Now was birthed.

With that in mind, we at JP Lime Productions are both excited and proud to assist in publicizing All Together Now’s 4th installment, which will take place on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 at 9pm. The Lily Pad, at 1353 Cambridge st. in Cambridge, MA will host what promises to be an entertaining and uplifting night. Diversity will in fact reign supremely, as the line-up of performers includes Black Lives Matter organizer DiDi Delgado, Beatbox Championship winner, NYC’s own Gene Shinozaki, Rap Artist and Co-Director of the Hip Hop Transformation Tashawn Taylor, and Boston-based, experimental rock band First Frost. Where else can one be treated to such a wide array of performances?

Whether activism, Hip Hop, poetry, lyricism, rock, or vocals is your bag, All Together Now #4 has something for you, and you don’t have to break the bank to experience all the fun. Tickets can be purchased at the door (pending availability) or in advance here for the low cost of $10.00. We encourage our readers to get your tickets now as this promises to be a full house.

More information about each performer, as detailed on All Together Now’s event page an be found below. Additionally, Anna Rae was gracious enough to answer a series of questions for us to assist in building this piece. So as to not risk misrepresenting or capturing the full scope of her vision, passion, & eloquence, we’ve opted to print the Q&A in its entirety. Anna Rae’s unfiltered thoughts and sentiments are also provided below.

That said, we at JP Lime Productions fully support the arts, diversity, and inclusivity. We admire the strength and conviction of individuals like Anna Rae and those involved in the All Together Now movement. In a day and age where separatism and pettiness across racial, ethnic, socio-economic, and even artistic backgrounds are in the forefront of our consciousness as much as they’ve ever been in a long time, certainly in my 36 years and counting on this planet, it’s both encouraging and refreshing to come across organizations like All Together Now whose very existence is to combat these divisions. It offers hope, and reassures us that despite all the murky ugliness and often times untruths that flood commercial media, grass-roots media, our social media feeds, and sadly, even our day to day, face to face discussion points, there is in fact A LOT OF GOODNESS in our world. I know it’s easy to lose sight of this, but I would argue that there’s more caring, magnanimous genuineness in most people than putrid squalor. There are more kind-hearted and good-natured people in this world than those overtly spreading divisiveness and committing atrocities against the good-will of humanity. Even across the spectrum of political disagreements, as difficult as finding a middle ground to those difference may be at times, we’re still more connected in our intentions to do good, rather than inflict harm, than for which we too often give ourselves and others credit.

In closing, I’d like to thank Anna Rae for her time in educating me about All Together Now and applaud her tenacity. It takes a strong person to take a stand against divisiveness and she, as well as all those involved with the movement, deserve high acclaim for doing so. We encourage our readers to learn more about All Together Now’s history and upcoming performances by checking out the Appendices to this post, and more importantly to support this wonderful event and future ones as well. Feed your head and grab your tickets, Lime Nation, we’re sure your mind, body, and soul will thank you.

Appendix A

All Together Now #4 Performer Bios

DiDi Delgado is a writer, activist, freelance journalist and poet. She is currently Head of Operations at S.O.U.P (The Society of Urban Poetry) a collective of artists and musicians whose mission statement, is to help shed light on the diversity amongst creative individuals and groups across gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, faith, ability, age; and aims to bridge the gaps between these intersectionalities. She has facilitated writing workshops at the Haley House and the Dudley Café in Dudley Square. She has served on the leadership team for the ACLU’s BCPA Committee, the Boston Branch of the NAACP’s Young Adult Committee.

As an organizer with Black Lives Matter Cambridge, she is constantly on the front lines blazing pathways, creating channels and fostering connections in support of other activists. She is the recipient of the 2015 Jack Powers Stone Soup Savor award which is awarded annually to one poet that serves the Boston and Cambridge communities as a mentor while consistently providing distinguished contributions to the art of poetry. DiDi has participated in Michael Rothenberg’s 100,000 Poets for Change, adjudicated with Boston Poet Laureate and others for the 2015 Mayor’s Poetry and Prose program, performed for various venues such as: Boston Center for Arts, Boston City Hall, Emerson College performing under the direction of Akiba Abaka and Walter Mosley, Boston City Councilor At Large Ayanna Pressley’s Jump Into Peace initiative and co-curated an event for Illuminus during Hubweek 2015. Deeply passionate about both her local and global community; she believes that poetry and activism go hand in hand.

Gene Shinozaki is a professional musician, performing artist, and Beatboxer who resides in Brooklyn NY. He attended Berklee College of music and studied Drumming as a performance major, but soon left Berklee to further his education on the art of beatboxing. His menial routine of street performing quickly turned into international fame as he made his first television debut on “So you think you can dance” in 2013. From then on, Shinozaki took his beatboxing all over the world, performing in countless countries, and was even awarded the Grand Beatbox Battle Championship title in Basel, Switzerland. Shinozaki is currently ranked amongst the top 8 beatboxers in the world, and is now a co-writer for The Beatbox House.

Tashawn Taylor (Marquis Tashawn Taylor) was born and raised in Cambridge MA, listening to various hip hop artists such as Rakim, LL cool J, Kanye West, Run DMC, and Nas. He grew up in an apartment as the middle child of four siblings. While everyone was practicing basketball with his father, Taylor was seeking out other interests from comic book writing to video game design. Around this time, Taylor went through many trials and tribulations that shaped his mindset and emotional stability, from money struggles to being bullied at school and at after school programs. This caused Taylor to develop constant anxiety in crowds, social interactions with peers, and develop a crippling emotional imbalance at a very young age. At the age of 13, Taylor picked up the pen and decided to write his very first 16 bar verse. During his freshman year of high school, he released his debut song “For The Hell of It” under the rap alias Tashawn Grey on Soundcloud. During that same year, Taylor released a mix-tape titled “starting from the top” that was only available on CD-ROM. In 2014, Taylor released another project titled “1Life” that consists of 5 songs that includes a remix to the song Pound Cake by Drake and Jay Z. After this release, Taylor attended a program called “The Hip Hop Transformation” through MSYEP (Mayors Summer Youth Employment Program).

The Hip Hop Transformation is a youth program that actively works with students and youth from ages 14-18 to educate them about the history of hip hop, as well as the different forms of hip hop. During the Education Process, they explore the talents of the participants with deejaying, rapping, singing, poetry, and beyond to prepare them for a showcase event towards the end of the summer. Tashawn, along with The Hip Hop Transformation composed, written, and recorded two albums together: The Transformation (released in 2014) and Say no Mas (released in 2015), which featured artists such as Flash from N.B.S, Latrell James, Fran-P, and many more. Taylor is currently Co-Directing The Hip Hop Transformation and will be assisting the program with music inquiries and outreach events. Tashawn Taylor is currently working on his debut album under his own independent brand. He is also planning on exploring different sides of the entertainment world, such as storytelling, songwriting, and philosophy. With his contagious energy, technical wordplay, and youthful persona, Taylor is just about ready to share his art and his story to the world with confidence.

First Frost, a Boston-based indie rock four-piece, debuted in April of 2015 under the name Foliage. Drawing on elements of shoegaze and experimental rock, the band peppers noise and oddity into songs while maintaining an accessible sound.

The band was conceived when compositional team Morgan Browne and Lauren Koppelman sought out like-minded musicians following an intense, week-long writing session in the both valiant and foolish hopes to complete an album before their birthdays.

But First Frost became a reality after Morgan and Lauren met drummer Chris Mendoza and bass player Michael Kish. The duo brought energy, texture and melody to the rhythm section, arguably the defining element of their sound.

 

Appendix B

Interview with Anna Rae

How & when was All Together Now founded? What’s its mission/vision/purpose?

All Together Now has three goals: make space for women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ performers in partnership with allies, combine genres into sensory-rich and surprising experiences, and increase collaboration between NYC and Boston.

I had been living and performing in Boston for about five years, first in folk and now in rock. I was starting to explore more genres and felt there was a lot to be gained by combining them into a single show. It would allow pockets of artists that don’t regularly collaborate to work together, and also help fans of one genre to be able to experience what was happening in another.

At the same time, I was growing weary with the lack of diversity in the rock scene. It started to feel kind of ridiculous actually that I was seeing so few women and even fewer people of color on stage, even though I know that there were tons of talented and visionary female and POC performers. I was learning from some close friends who are queer and perform music about the ways they’ve felt compelled to mask that identity or to try to make their music “accessible” to straight audiences. I wanted to create a space where all identities would be welcomed, celebrated, and supported. That includes cis straight white men who want to experience and celebrate diversity. It’s about all of us, together, creating space that is innovative, celebratory, and healthy.

What is your involvement today? What motivates you to balance you role(s) within the organization with your daily responsibilities (day job, studies, family, etc… where applicable)? 

Today I am the artistic and marketing director. I coordinate with venues, recruit acts, handle the finances, and lead marketing outreach to print, TV, radio, online influencers, and social media. Jane Hyoun-Ju Park came on board as marketing assistant for the last two shows last year, and is continuing that role this year.

Even though that’s her official title, Jane also does some other very valuable things including recommending potential artists and venues, attending shows with me to recruit artists, and processing with me around the challenges of organizing a show of this nature. For example, one thing I’ve been processing pretty regularly with Jane is my curiosity about how being cis, straight and white might be contributing to the ways I go about organizing and whether there are things I need to do to actively resist white supremacy and/or cis/heteronormativity in how I approach the shows, artists, or audiences. Having that conversation with Jane, and having her insight, has been incredibly valuable to me.

Balance is not my strong suit. Organizing All Together Now, which is trying to create unique connections on multiple levels (identity, genre, location), has pushed me beyond what I confidently know how to do in so many ways. I put a lot of pressure on myself to get it right because I want to do my best for the artists. I believe in their work, and I know how hard it is to make phenomenal art while managing all the other pressures of booking, promotion, financing, etc.

I’m really grateful to The Boston Foundation for supporting us with a Live Arts Boston grant this year. That has made all the difference in being able to continue. But getting that grant has also made me want to do even more and better because others are invested and have put their faith in me to deliver. Something I have to keep in mind is that the whole purpose is to create strong and meaningful connections between people and communities. It doesn’t make sense to sacrifice my relationships with people who are close to me, who have supported me in so many different ways, in order to put all my energy into All Together Now, because that’s unhealthy and devalues their commitment and love for me. But that’s something I struggle with. I hope I get better at it.

Please provide a quick list of artists who’ve performed at the first 3 events.

Installment #1

Jeremy Stamas :: experimental film

Crichton Atkinson :: performance art

The Grownup Noise :: music

Jenee Halstead :: music

Hemway :: music

Installment #2

Hye Yun Park :: performance art, video, clowning

Diana Oh :: performance art, music

Jane Park (who now goes by Poor Eliza) :: music and toys

Hemway  :: music

Installment #3

Sarah Fard :: music

Adlai Grayson and PROject Nailz :: dance, drag

Brian King and Johnny Blazes :: story, dialogue, song

Hemway :: music

Last year my band Hemway performed in all three shows – we were basically the hosting act. This year, we might play at one show, but now that I’m really starting to get connected to other genres and pockets of artists, Hemway is stepping back to make more space for others.

What goes into the artist selection process (outreach or do they come to you, both)? + any details on the selection of this year’s acts. 

I go out to a lot of live shows, and I’ve been trying, over the last year or so, to really expand the types of shows I’m going to. The majority of the performers are people I’ve seen live, or who’s material I’ve seen online, and really liked. However, as the series expands (we did three shows last year, and are doing five this year), I’ve been relying more on recommendations from people who know what the vision is. Jane, who is technically the marketing assistant, but who also contributes to the creative vision, has told me about a couple of performers that I’m pursuing this year. I learned about Gene Shinozaki from Jon Glancy, a local musician who saw Gene perform a couple years ago and was really struck by what he was doing. There seems to be a common thread in terms of what performers get recommended to me, which is that they really stuck in the minds of the people who are recommending them – whether because their skill level is really beyond, or because they’re doing something really innovative and imaginative.

Putting together the shows is actually kind of tricky because I’m trying to create an interesting mix of genres, include performers with a wide range of identities, and make sure the show flows, while also leaving room for surprise and weirdness. I only recruit artists that I’m really excited about, and whose work I believe in, and a lot of them are extremely busy so scheduling can be kind of a complicated puzzle. This year I’m hoping to incorporate even more genres so the puzzle is not getting any easier, but I think the shows will stay really fresh for people who attend several, or all of them.

Feel free to add any further notes or personal insight/anecdotes on any of this year’s performers that I won’t find in the write-up from the links provided earlier on this thread.

Two of the performers at the upcoming show on April 29, DiDi Delgado and Tashawn Taylor, are both acts I know about because of the Black Lives Matter movement. While I included artists last year who were or are involved in social justice organizing, this is the first time that I actually discovered artists through direct actions. That way of recruiting aligns with the vision of All Together Now, which includes making space for marginalized artists and creating resource equity (I guarantee performer pay, and use the series to try and help artists get media placement).

Another thing I’m really excited about for this year is that I have some performers from last year coming back and exploring ideas they had as a result of last year’s shows. For example, Jenee Halstead, who performed with her band last year, is back on May 27 and debuting a performance art piece that she’s developing with her close friend and collaborator Mark Lipman. Their new piece will incorporate expressive movement, story and song, but they are keeping the details a secret, even from me, so they can surprise the audience.

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