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How One Musician is Helping People Across the Community
The Vagina Musiclogs concert brought together four dynamic women for a night of empowering music. Organized by Zahyia Rolle, Thursday’s event raised funds and awareness for domestic violence victims. All of the proceeds, including cover charges and merchandise sales, went to the Willow Domestic Violence Foundation. Rolle said she believes every woman facing this violence is strong and supporting them is critical to providing real help.
This Q&A has been modified for clarity and length.
Tell us a little more about your work.
ZR: Sure, I’ve been a musician my entire life. I’ve always loved music and today, I do a lot of projects. I am with Vanishing Sun and I also do solo shows, in addition to my own work so I am definitely busy a lot. To be honest, there are trade-offs. I don’t sleep a lot. My house is a mess (laughs) but I think that’s part of prioritizing. I know what’s important to me: my family, my music, my emotional and spiritual well-being and so that’s what I put my energy behind.
That’s so important– learning to balance everything. Tell us more about your work with other artists. What issues do artists often face when booking a show and how are you able to help?
ZR: Rejection is really the biggest issue, especially if you’re an original band or artist. It’s tough to convince a venue that you’re a good band if they’ve never heard of you. So when you’re first starting, it’s important to build that relationship and that’s where I try to step in and advocate for them and get them more shows. We also reduce overhead so we’re able to keep more money in the pockets of the musicians we work with and that’s just so important to me.
Especially with everything going on right now. I’m thinking Megan Thee Stallion, but also so many others in time.
ZR: Yes! I mean, look at Barry Gordon!
Oh, wow. You’re right. This has been an issue forever. So, what’s your advice for small, solo artists?
ZR: When something is scary, run to it. A lot of times, we get scared and we don’t do things just because we’re afraid, but there’s also a better you on the other side of that scary thing. So, when you have a decision facing you, trust your gut and run towards it. You will emerge so much better and stronger every time.
Love that. Tell us about your residency this month.
ZR: Yeah, absolutely. It’s exciting to put on four shows at Three Heads Brewing this month. There’s one every Thursday and each one is very different so it’s a guaranteed fun time. So far, we’ve done Diva Goddam, focusing on these icons in history, like Tina Turner. The second show was the Vagina Musiclogs, where I brought together four women across genres for a fundraiser for the Willow Domestic Violence Center. On the 19th, we have Rap Attack and the Tribute to Lizzo is the final Thursday.
Wow, a tribute to Lizzo?
ZR: Of course! I’m really excited for it too. She’s strong, she’s empowering and we know it’ll be a lot of fun. For Rap Attack, I’m dressing up as a man and then actually giving the stage over later in the night to male performers. Any time I can be a coworker with musicians, I strive to do that. I really want less of an environment of competition and more one of collaboration and encouragement.
How can Rochester be a better place for Black artists?
ZR: Go to the shows! We’re so quick to go out and support a cover band but we get too comfortable. Put yourself in uncomfortable situations to explore and discover something new and awesome. That applies to visual arts, written, spoken word, all of it! We have to expand what we expect of Black artists and then put our money and love behind them.
* For the most up to date information and changes on these events visit Zahhyia’s facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zahyiamusic/
About Tianna Mañon
Tianna Mañon is a contributing reporter for WXXI news. She’s covered issues like the presence of plastic in the Great Lakes, the death of Trevyan Rowe and the impact of the opioid epidemic in the inner-city. Passionate about using various forms of media to tell the story, Tianna enjoys simply getting out of the newsroom and talking to people. In her free time, Tianna can be found reading a book in her home library, at the Public Market or otherwise exploring the region.
540WMain will celebrate its 4 year anniversary with a party and extravaganza on Saturday June 20, 2020. In just four years the organization has become a pillar in the Susan B. Anthony neighborhood and a convener and curator of important and vital community conversations, classes, and programs. Your financial support helps us scale up this work in 2020 and beyond with a year long fundraising goal of $40,000