Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

A SOUND THAT CARRIES: Americana, blues and rock burrow into the songs on Ashley Heath's debut solo album A Different Stream. If successful, her current crowdfunding campaign will help get the recording to an audience far beyond her Western North Carolina homebase. Photo from Heath's campaign page

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.

Ashley Heath’s album and tour support

There’s a certain vibrancy that follows a person’s willful left turns in life. It’s an excitement about new possibilities that comes underlined with risk, and it’s exactly the energy that comes spilling out of Marshall-based musician Ashley Heath when she discusses her recent switch to full-time musicianship. You wouldn’t know Heath was a newcomer to the professional sphere, considering her packed performance schedule and flexible voice. But she’s an open songbook who embraces vulnerabilities, both lyrically and in her Kickstarter video. The latter outlines Heath’s aspirations to orchestrate a comprehensive, professional push behind her recently released debut album A Different Stream, which showcases her aptitude for ballads and belting alike. The singer-songwriter aims to raise $10,000 by Thursday, Oct. 13, to cover the costs of hiring a publicist for print media and radio, obtaining more merchandise, advertising, distributing the physical album to more stores and offsetting tour expenses. Heath will also host a Kickstarter party and performance at Moe’s Original Bar B Que on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6 to 9 p.m., with the restaurant donating 10 percent of its sales to the crowdfunding campaign.

Don’t Touch Me t-shirts

A short walk downtown resulted in too many catcalls for Destiney Stubbs, who later reacted on paper. “I felt enraged and grossed out. It kind of ruined a few hours of my day,” Stubbs recalls. “Later in the evening, I was reflecting on it and remembered a few of many occasions [when] I had my space violated, either verbally, visually or physically by men. Even sitting in my room in my house, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my body is public property — that I am not a human being with sentience and emotions, but that I am only flesh and thighs. I just wanted the ability to projectile-vomit acid on the faces of people who reduce me to that. I want to be ugly. I want to scare men. And that’s when I drew the illustration.” At the request of several friends, Stubbs is having the venomous character printed onto tank tops, and pre-orders are being accepted beyond the campaign’s original $200 goal. The aspiring artist hopes to create for other marginalized groups over time.

Photo from Stubbs' campaign page
Image from Stubbs’ campaign page

Aleeiah Sura’s debut album

“The instrument I play is called a handpan,” Aleeiah Sura writes on her crowdfunding page. “This magical gift has changed my life in so many ways and allowed me to find expression for feelings I had no language for before. It continues to unravel my heart daily, and has assisted tremendously with my own healing process. Now it is time I start sharing this medicine with others.” Sura hopes to do that by recording a debut album that blends vocal, handpan and guest instrumentals. She aims to raise $5,500 to pay for the recording process, including hiring collaborators.

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.

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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14 thoughts on “Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfunding initiatives

  1. boatrocker

    For that gal described as Americana. blues and rock, that hand sign says ‘heavy metal forever’ all day long.

    Also, the new agey woo woo Namaste lady- can she or anyone else tell me more about a handpan?
    I’ve never seen or heard one until this article. Is it just an upside down/inside out version of the Jamaican steel drum?
    Could one use sticks like the timpales?

    • Kat McReynolds

      Ashley Heath was once quoted as saying “Inside my soul, I’m a rager.” I’m guessing that’s what we’re getting in the photo.

      Asheville buskers love handpans! And here’s some info from a local maker: http://www.sarazhandpans.com/history/

      I think sticks would be too jarring on the attack, but that’s just speculation.

      • boatrocker

        Huh. Thanks for the info.
        So a handpan reminds me of Captain America’s shield, shaped and tuned (mostly by hand) like a Jamaican steel drum with a wok on the bottom but played more like the Balinese Gamelan instruments? I dunno, but it does sound weird enough to grab my attention.

        And, heavy metal forever!!!!!!!!

  2. Negrodamus

    ““Later in the evening, I was reflecting on it and remembered a few of many occasions [when] I had my space violated, either verbally, visually or physically by men. Even sitting in my room in my house, I couldn’t shake the feeling that my body is public property — that I am not a human being with sentience and emotions, but that I am only flesh and thighs. I just wanted the ability to projectile-vomit acid on the faces of people who reduce me to that. I want to be ugly. ”

    Mountain Xpress has become a valuable tool to better understand what has happened to Asheville. Thank you.

    • Negrodamus

      Projectile-vomit acid on the faces of people who looked at her in way she didn’t like. Wow. Talk about turning a perceived micro-aggression into a macro-aggression.

      • Kat McReynolds

        If that action were literally possible and chosen as the response, I agree it would be overkill. However, I believe Destiney was aiming to describe a feeling that arose after repeated catcalls (not just looks) — a feeling of wanting to be the utter opposite of attractive in order to thwart the unwanted attention. The actual reaction was drawing, and the image was informed by those feelings.

        Also, in my experience at least, the emotional response to being catcalled is cumulative over one’s life. It’s kind of like… the feeling a server gets the 100th time he’s interrupted so that a table he’s not serving can ask for ranch. I’m not saying the extra frustration is right or wrong or productive, but repetition does something to the brain. (I’m adding this in response to your use of the term micro-aggression.)

      • Kat McReynolds

        In other words, to the one catcalling or even staring, it is a micro-event. To the recipient, it may not be. I think that’s an interesting idea that shows up in this drawing/story.

        • Negrodamus

          “…the feeling a server gets the 100th time he’s interrupted so that a table he’s not serving can ask for ranch. ”

          This made me laugh.

          Cat-calling is totally neanderthal and inappropriate. And I agree that it’s more than micro-aggression; it’s overt. If only we could learn what power we have when we just ignore someone’s existence; or laugh at them. But I understand her feelings and sympathize.

        • The Real World

          Kat – your comments are very well articulated. I’ll add some profound info shared by a female friend related to both your and Destiney’s views.

          She said, “although obvious and basic, it seems men don’t comprehend the fact that since they are generally stronger than women, women always feel at a disadvantage. We live our lives looking over our shoulder and knowing that, purely of our physical strength, we cannot defend ourselves. On a microscopic level that knowledge is always present. When in situations of potential threat it can rise to full fear. And, yes, we resent having to live like this.”

          Now, there’s a perspective worth taking the time to think about.

          • Kat McReynolds

            Thank you.

            I think there’s merit to your friend’s theory. I definitely have a danger mitigation app running in the back of my head, and certain circumstances (that the fellows may or may not notice) kick it into high gear. I’m not sure if gender, personality or something else determines how it operates. I also have mixed feelings about how exactly men should go about being sensitive to that mentality (assuming they’re even aware) when it’s a pretty human quality to want to be met with good faith during day-to-day encounters. Is it reasonable to expect someone to view his every interaction with a stranger as an opportunity to offer proof that he’s not an aggressor (which might cure the resentment your friend feels)? Probably not. But maybe there’s a happy middle ground between that and completely ignoring people’s perceived vulnerabilities. I.e., if you see someone quickly walking alone at night, maybe don’t strike up a conversation (that was my pet peeve when I’d walk home from work in Manhattan).

            Dive deep with me… Catcalling, in my head, is a two-part event. There’s the action of audibly assessing someone’s physical existence, which might be an all-out display of dominance, but at the very least, it conveys the absence of intimidation on the part of the person hollering. Perhaps that ties into the physical danger red flags. And then there’s the content of what’s being said, which ranges from nauseating to your standard issue “Damn, girl.” Variations on the latter can actually be quite submissive (I bow before your beauty!), though, and I think THAT is why so many otherwise decent males think that catcalling is not threatening or anything but a compliment. In my book, the action will always supercede the message.

            This is the string of thoughts that goes through everyone’s head when they’re catcalled, right??

          • Kat McReynolds

            Also, who wants to go in on the printing cost for a purse-friendly “Catcalling is not okay” brochure??

      • boatrocker

        You’ve never heard of the middle finger or mace, have you? So much more subtle.

        • boatrocker

          That was directed at the comment about acid and vomiting and such.

  3. boatrocker

    In reading all the comments, I might have just a tiny inkling as to how a modern day black male feels. Just a tiny bit of one-

    In walking down the street at night downtown back to my car a few years ago, I found myself about 40 ft behind a female in her 20’s(?) by herself.
    I heard her dig into her purse to grab her keys, saw her put her keys in between her knuckles in order to make an improvised
    ‘punch you in the gut with my fist and keys’ type weapon and she sped up, almost to the point of jogging in order to reach her car.

    All because I was wearing a trench coat and talking to myself.
    Kidding about that last part.

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