Ryan “RnB” Barber is LEAF’s Spark the Arts artist in residence for February 2024

Press release from LEAF Global Arts:

The North Carolina Arts Council created Spark the Arts as an awareness campaign. It was designed to inspire public participation in the arts across the state by highlighting the unique way the arts lift spirits, bring people together, and heal. “Recognizing that the people of North Carolina are the spark that keeps the arts alive, well, and thriving, our goal is to ignite the resurgence of our state’s arts sector from the pandemic by connecting residents and visitors to arts experiences and arts stories across our state,” says the North Carolina Arts Council.

LEAF Global Arts received a Spark the Arts grant to amplify the work of local artists. Each month, from December 2023 through June 2024, a different artist will hold a residency at LEAF Global Arts Experience at 19 Eagle Street in downtown Asheville. The seven-month series began with Juan Holladay in December and Mike Martinez in January. (Martinez will give a public performance later this spring.)

The series continues with Barber, whose residency includes an educational component: He’ll lead a performance and stage presence workshop on Wednesday, February 21, at 5 p.m. The class, part of the LEAF Lights program, is free and open to the public.

Upcoming Spark the Arts resident artists are: vocalist Leeda “Lyric” Jones in March, musician and songwriter Teso McDonald in April, dancer Amanda Hoyte in May, and singer and stage performer Dani Cox in June.

LEAF Global Arts is thrilled to provide a platform for these artists and invites the community to engage with their public performances — both at Sound Underground and throughout Western North Carolina.

Ryan “RnB” Barber is a proud staple of Asheville N.C.’s legendary music scene, at the forefront of its funk and R&B community. Drawing from a lifetime of singing, rapping, producing and touring across the nation, Ryan has released six full-length studio albums. He has also been featured on many high profile projects, including producing on two of R&B stalwart W. Ellington Felton’s recent albums, and also singing and rapping on the 2017 GRAMMY winning album Infinity Plus One by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, just one of the groups he actively tours with.

Born to a musical family and steeped in gospel and R&B from his first heartbeat, Ryan started his musical education in the church choir at the age of nine, and continued adding to a deepening knowledge of rhythm and percussion by joining the school marching band at sixteen. But it was love for hip hop, funk, new jack swing and especially R&B that beat in his chest, so he quickly began applying all he’d learned to producing his own tracks, inspired by J Dilla, A Tribe Called Quest, DJ Quik, Gerald Levert and Teddy Riley. Mixing a classic beat production feel with soulful Southern singing and a fearless falsetto, Ryan solidified his musical identity as a recording artist as well as a highly sought after performer and collaborator. The undeniable talent doesn’t end there, as Ryan also spins everyone’s favorite tunes at weddings and other special events as the boogie inducing DJ Badonkey Kong.

Already known throughout the Southeast as a standout voice, charismatic bandleader, DJ, and musical workhorse, Ryan “RnB” Barber has begun spreading his soaring funkiness across the nation, recently rocking sets at Chicago’s Lollapalooza Festival and performing live on SiriusXM in Washington, DC, delivering uplifting messages with a timeless soul that sounds like both yesterday and tomorrow.


About Community Bulletin
Mountain Xpress posts selected news and information of local interest as a public service for our readers. To submit press releases and other community material for possible publication, email news@mountainx.com.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.