On Saturday, March 5th, HomeWord, a local youth poetry organization, will present the second annual MatchStrike Youth Arts Showcase. MatchStrike brings together over 25 youth artists from various mediums in a gallery and concert-style showcase of local youth talent. The event will feature local bands, spoken word poets, indie singer/songwriters, a capella, studio artists and photographers.
“MatchStrike meant a lot to me because of the opportunity it gave me to share my original music with a new audience,” said Colin Miller who DJ’d the event last year and on stage with the band MJ Lemonade and the Lemonaders this year. “The creative atmosphere of the entire event was a joy to be a part of.”
Last year MatchStrike brought in an audience of nearly 300; because of last year’s success, more artists have been added to this year’s line-up.
“We saw that young people were already creating, collaborating, and performing every day in our community,” said Heidi Freeman, co-director of HomeWord. “MatchStrike is all about giving them the professional platform they deserve and the space to collaborate with other artists.”
MatchStrike will begin with an interactive gallery composed of art exhibits from nine local visual artists; DJs will be playing music created by local musicians during the gallery. The event will then transition into a concert that will range from spoken word poetry to alternative rock music — and artists from different groups and genres will collaborate for performances within the show. “The opportunity to present in a professional environment like MatchStrike pushes us to transform our art from a hobby into a realistic endeavor,” said Elsa Haun, a sculptor in the showcase.
Asheville youth are also responsible for a large part of MatchStrike’s planning and execution. Bryan Head, who graduated from Asheville High in 2013 and who represented Asheville on the 2013 and 2014 Brave New Voices (BNV) Team, is the event coordinator. Chase Woodson, who graduated in 2015 and was on the 2014 BNV team is managing the visual artists in the show. Both are poets who see this as a chance to empower fellow artists.
“As someone who is getting ready to go off to college and has never done something like this before, I’m leaps and bounds out of my comfort zone, which is an invaluable experience,” said Michelle Padron, a student intern for HomeWord. “Getting to facilitate a group of extremely talented people who happen to be my peers is a skill that is o applicable for what I want to do with my life and I’m extremely grateful for the experience.”
Along with showcasing their talents at the event, MatchStrike hopes to help artists create an audience for their work and establish themselves as professionals. Artists who participate in the event will each be setting a project goal. the Ticket price at the door includes a built-in donation, meaning half of the cost of admission will go directly to artists in the show.
Most artists in the show are already involved in multiple projects that cross into different forms of art.
“By presenting visual arts along with performing arts, young artists are also given the opportunity to see the diversity of arts in their community which leads to collaborations that can create new and exciting work,” said Gillian Maurer who will be a part of the gallery showing. “Personally, being able to be a part of both performing and visual arts has made me a stronger artist in all forms.”
HomeWord is a local youth spoken word organization that runs a monthly poetry slam series at North Carolina Stage and Theater Company in downtown Asheville along with free writing workshops. The organization selects and coaches the team of poets who represent Asheville at Brave New Voices, the international youth spoken word festival, each year. Along with creating safe spaces for young people to tell their individual stories, HomeWord is focused on helping young people become critical thinkers and speak to social justice issues. Three of the poets from the organization will feature in MatchStrike.
“Spoken word has allowed me to give voice to the issues closest to my heart and HomeWord means everything to me,” said Devin Jones who was on the 2015 BNV team and who will kick off the event. “The leaders and poets are like my second family and them make me comfortable with my work.”
LEAF Schools and Streets, which provides extensive arts education programming in the community, is partnering with HomeWord to put on the event. One of the acts to take the stage will be DJs from Burton Street Community Center’s ONEMic Studio as part of LEAF Schools and Street’s EMErgence: Electronic Music Experience program.
Several visual artists will be returning to the gallery from last year, including photographer Hannah Sommer and studio artists Ariel Lindeman and Riley Beveridge. They will be joined by Haun, Maurer, Leta Diethelm, Claire Oulette, and Maya Sophie Stansbury.
During the concert, Jones’ teammates Rebekkah LeBlue and Evan Dowty will perform accompanied by jazz musician Rob McCormac. The Asheville High A Capella group will take the stage, as will solo artist Nathaneal Jordan and the musical duo CHAD. The concert will culminate with performances from the hybrid band MJ Lemonade and the Lemonaders and singer/songwriter Indigo De Souza.
The Millroom has generously donated its space for the event.
Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for adults. They can be purchased at the door or through the HomeWord webpage prior to the show http://www.homewordavl.org/
The other half of sales from the door will pay for registration to send the 2016 Asheville team to compete in Brave New Voices in Washington, DC this summer.