Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

ROCK ON: Woodworker Alicia Williams starts her products with a mallet and chisel and power carver before sanding surfaces and protecting the exterior with an oil and wax finish. Image from Williams crowdfunding campaign

Crowdfunding platforms make it possible for individuals and organizations of any size to harness social networks and raise start-up capital for projects that might otherwise fail due to lack of funding. Each week, Xpress highlights notable Western North Carolina crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd.

Heartwood Rocking Horses

“I never would have guessed that drawing horses would later become the foundation of a rocking horse business,” says Alicia Williams. But that’s just how the local woodworker eased into her current role as a professional crafter. After completing four years on Habitat for Humanity’s home construction crew, plus a woodworking class project, Williams gifted her first horse to her niece. The child proceeded to pet, feed and talk to the animal with excitement. “I could see that kids’ imaginations could really create worlds of adventure with these horses,” Williams recalls. And, so, she’s settled on a new entrepreneurial mission: “creating hand-carved wooden rocking horses that [will] last for generations, spark creativity and joy in kids, and be beautiful works of art.” Williams has already surpassed her $1,500 goal, which will cover the costs of participating in the Piedmont Craftsmen Crafts Fair in November, including entree fee, transportation, marketing materials, booth displays, food, lodging and more. She’ll continue to crowdfund until Friday, Sept. 29.

Jimmie Lunceford sheet music

A musician, dancer and organizer in the swing dancing sphere, Michael Gamble notes a lack of variety in the repertoire of his peers’ live music. “This dance community is always seeking the experience of dancing to the real deal, the music that packed those dance floors from the early ’30s to late ’40s — you know big band music,” he says. At most shows, he continues, “You might hear some popular Glenn Miller or Duke Ellington. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to hear some of the great music of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Count Basie — outstanding stuff, but after that very short list, you don’t really hear much else.” Gamble explains that this is due to the rarity of accurate, legible sheet music, and, luckily, the existence of audio recordings and trained ears can remedy the situation. Gamble has already exceeded his $17,660 goal to pay to transcribe and publish of a full night of music by Jimmie Lunceford. Those 30 songs will be performed at Lindy Focus, and ideally at many more big band events to come. With a stretch goal of $24,950 to be raised by Tuesday, Sept. 26, Gamble will transcribe Lunceford’s entire catalog.

The Rebirth of Kool musical

Written by and starring off-Broadway dancer, instructor and choreographer Otto Vasquez, “The Rebirth of Kool” combines hip-hop, swing and jazz into its musical format. “The film is set in 1943, during a little-known race war between white servicemen and Mexican-American ‘Zooters’ in an event dubbed The Zoot Suit Riots,” Vasquez’s crowdfunding page explains. “This is a story we believe needs to be told in order to inspire racial acceptance in our country. We want to use our creative talents to infiltrate a message of brotherhood and hope in a time of supreme racial tensions in the United States.” Vasquez aims to raise $5,000 by Monday, Sept. 18, toward producing the musical.

Send your crowdsourcing campaign news to kmcreynolds@mountainx.com. A limited number of campaigns will be highlighted each week, at Xpress’ discretion. Campaigns must be locally based and should represent a current project with an achievable goal. Conditions are subject to change. Read about more Western North Carolina projects here.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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