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Meet the Music Advocate Programme Cohort of the Huntsville Music Cities Convention


Music Advocate Programme Huntsville Music Cities Convention

On October 18th - 20th, the Music Cities Convention will be taking place in "Rocket City" - Huntsville, Alabama.


Under the theme of: "How Music Drives Social & Economic Growth In Cities: Creating The Most Ideal, Equitable And Prosperous City In The World Using Music And Culture", 400+ music advocates will gather to explore and network around using music to makes cities better


As part of the activities that will be part of this event, we're hosting a Music Advocate Programme, through which Music Cities Events and the City of Huntsville are set to deliver free access and specialized networking opportunities for a handpicked gathering of participants of the Convention.


This exciting group represents a dynamic fusion of music advocates hailing from various corners of the United States, including Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee.


Among them, you'll discover individuals that are actively involved in their community through cultural hubs, initiatives amplifying music in rural areas, music festivals, youth-oriented career development and mental health programs, urban renaissance endeavors, and much more.


We invite you to scroll down and dive into each of the profiles of this exciting group of music advocates. Get inspired by learning about their careers and projects and come join them at the Huntsville Music Cities Convention.


Garrett Hilpipre

Garrett Hilpipre, Soundscape Collective (COL, USA)


Garrett Hilpipre, a respected figure in Denver's music scene, brings a decade-long legacy. Originating from Iowa, he ventured to Colorado in 2008 post a transformative Madagascar Peace Corps stint. Co-founding Mountain to Sound, a Denver boutique music promotion project, over 13 years ago ignited his journey in music and community development. Mountain to Sound bridges local and touring acts, curating 300+ intimate concerts and events, connecting musicians with diverse audiences. A fervent performing arts advocate, Garrett excels in event management and community engagement. As the Executive Director of Soundscape Collective, he pioneered a groundbreaking music residency fostering collaborations, connecting artists, host communities, and audiences through genuine dialogue.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"Soundscape Collective provides the music community the time, space and support to explore, experiment and reflect on creative practices in a wilderness environment through music residencies and workshops.


Fostering creativity through music, community, cultural diversity, equity and sense of place. Soundscape Collective’s vision is to host year-round, creative retreats where musicians of all mediums and backgrounds can find inspiration, solitude and community while deepening their connection with the land and strengthening urban to rural cultural bridges. In collaboration with our network of partner organizations, we offer a variety of programs that allow artists to engage with the wider creative community throughout Colorado.


In 2019 and 2021 Soundscape Collective hosted its first two iterations of the Music Resident Program, where in each we invited a Colorado-based producer along with two Denver-based musicians to participate in a music residency pilot program that spanned both urban and rural landscapes. The Program creates place-based creative retreat where the musicians can escape distraction and completely submerge themselves in work and environment. The Program also supports the participant artists’ career growth and artistic development as well as capacity building within the music community.


Our activities made an impact not only on members of Denver Music Community, but also built new organizational partnerships while strengthening existing ones. We look forward to scaling our reach and impact by launching a Musician Workshop Retreat in Fall of 2023.


Paramount goals of our programming include addressing the social inequities and stereotypes that exist within the music community while showcasing Denver as a creative hub for musicians of all backgrounds and genres. Our vision is to use our programs as opportunities for cross-cultural collaboration and education in order to create a more empathetic and equitable society."


Hadley Peterson

Hadley Peterson, Denver's Art District on Santa Fe (FL, USA)


"My passion is amplifying the voices of the communities I work with. I aim to co-create engagement processes, planning policies, and tactical interventions with community to build a shared future I am proud of and inspired by. I am committed to sustainable and equitable urban planning, design, and development. As an artist and self-proclaimed “placekeeper” I work at the intersection of urban planning and the arts in cities like Denver and Tallahassee to build better cities."


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"As a visual artist, urban planner, and placemaker I have looked at the intersection of arts and urban planning for over the last five years. I have watched the impact that including music into visual art celebrations, like First Friday in Denver, has had on the overall success of the event.


In Tallahassee, I have worked closely with local non-profits like Cat Family Records and COCA to evaluate the market need for a larger community/innovation hub that support music and artists. Utilizing some of the successful work from Denver like the Artist in Residency program, Community Benefits Agreement, and mini-grants I am continuing to work to explore what methods might work better in a community like Tallahassee.


In Denver I have been part of larger community development work due to the integration of music, I would like to do something similar here and move past the small pockets of community that support various non-profits and venues to a larger ecosystem of music as economic development. In Denver I also worked with LiveNation on a mural in the Arts District elevating local heritage. I would like to continue to explore what partnering with large corporations can do to amplify local talent."


Cultural Enrichment Center

Jamal Skinner, Cultural Enrichment Center (CO, USA)


Jamal Skinner is originally from New York where he was personally impacted by the local cultural center in his hometown. His experience growing up in a primarily white town mirrors the experience of the young African American population in Fort Collins. Building a sense of community for young black people is his passion. He studied Philosophy at Howard University, where he was also a tutor for the Howard University Youth Empowerment Program. Jamal has extensive organizing experience in the African American community and a broad knowledge of African American history, making him a natural educator and advocate for cultural enlightenment. Jamal is the founder and Executive director of the CEC, where he works full time applying for grants, doing community outreach, and developing program curriculum. He has a great vision for the organization and aspires to bring the African American youth of Fort Collins a new level of opportunity and awareness.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"The Cultural Enrichment Center is designed to address the cultural, academic, career, and social needs of middle school and high school African American students in Fort Collins. The enrichment center is crafted in an academic cultural framework for the purpose of connecting participants with history, literature, arts, music, dance, traditions, and folklore of the African American experience."


Jeanelle Ramirez

Jeanelle Ramirez, Future Traditions Fest (TX, USA)


Jeannelle Ramirez is a cultural producer and researcher based in Austin, Texas. She is the founder and director of Future Traditions Fest, an experimental Latinx transmedia festival in Austin founded in 2019. She is also a program manager at Texas Folklife, where she manages the fellowship program and produces podcasts. As part of her work at TXF, she is currently working on an ethnographic research project about the Austin music ecosystem. Jeannelle earned her PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin, with a study focused on emergent Latinx festivals in New York City, Austin, and other US cities. Jeannelle is also active in the Austin experimental music scene and has performed at NMASS Festival, Me Mer Mo, and various galleries and venues. She recently produced two tracks on Natalia Rocafurte’s Dream Archive LP, which remixed recordings of migrant women sharing their dreams.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"In 2019 I founded Future Traditions Fest in order to provide a platform for experimental collaborations between Latinx artists. I was inspired by my ethnomusicology research in Buenos Aires and New York, where I saw artists (musical and otherwise) creatively blending elements of their heritage with electronic production and multimedia through boundary-pushing approaches. I wanted to create a space in Austin that would nurture and support similar endeavours. After receiving grant funding from UT Austin and the City of Austin to launch the project, I paired groups of local artists to collaborate on new performances. All artists are paid fairly for their work. We also bring in artists from outside of Texas, creating a space for diverse Latinx artists to network, in addition to exposing audiences to different kinds of performances.


Although the pandemic forced us to pause festival production, we recently collaborated with Fusebox Festival to present Explosioncita, a collaboration between the band Balun (NYC/PR) and Poncili Creacion (PR). We provided a platform for these groups to create a magical one hour musical production that was sold out for all performances. Future Traditions Fest recently received a City of Austin grant to produce a festival in 2024. As always, we plan to create a program that highlights local and regional talent, while also bringing in innovative acts from other cities in the US.


This work is particularly important because Latinx artists lack institutional support for experimental new music and the career building opportunities that other artists may have access to. In particular, we want to support US-based Latinx artists who are bicultural and may not always find platforms for their work."


Jinna Kim

Jinna Kim, Last Chance Viola (NC, USA)


Initially trained in classical music, Jinna Kim is a multidisciplinary immigrant artist, musician, filmmaker, and more based in North Carolina. In addition to being a violist, Jinna continues to shoot short films, and create public installations and interdisciplinary projects that highlight diverse perspectives while sneaking in educational and unique cultural content in delightful ways. During the pandemic Jinna wrote, directed and produced her first short documentary "Chinese Girl Wants Vote" featuring original music that became part of the Digital Public Library of America.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"During the pandemic, I emerged as a multidisciplinary artist and my first short documentary about suffragist Mabel Lee titled "Chinese Girl Wants Vote" featuring original music initially exhibited at the Levine Museum of the New South before winning film festivals and landing at the Digital Public Library of America in 2021 where it continues to be accessible online to all communities. Since then I not only continued to leverage original music in my short films but also went back to playing viola and violin. I played viola on-screen (as featured background) in the movie "Are You There God It's Me Margaret." I also won a local grant to make viola music more accessible to re-play and will be hosting my 1st concert at The Violin Shoppe on 10/1/2023 combining civics, original and popular music."



Michael Howard

Michael Howard, Export Music Alaska/Dog Yard Records (AK, USA)


"I'm a lifelong musician and community advocate. Founder of Export Music Alaska working to link music with tourism and economic opportunity in Alaska."


Michael Howard is a songwriter born and raised in the wilds of Alaska. As an up and coming songwriter, he gained a reputation as a timeless storyteller in the tradition of the American folk singer, and critics regularly compare his unique voice to great artists such as Cat Stevens and Neil Young. Prior to purusing music full time, Michael spent years as a community organizer and activist in his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Michael has been selected as a regional finalist in the NPR Mountain Stage Radio Show NewSong national songwriting competition, and he has received multiple awards, including the prestigious Individual Artist Award from the Rasmuson Foundation in Alaska.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"[I use it by] promoting music as a centerpiece of economic diversification (moving beyond oil economy). Promoting music as an economic generator. Using music as context to address identity in Alaska. Linking music with tourism and economic initiatives. Promoting all ages music opportunities (mental health and healthy activities for youth) and supporting diverse genres. Expanding what local and visitors think of when they think of Alaska and what it has to offer."


Rachel Reynolds

Rachel Reynolds, Cultural Continuum Consulting/Meadow Creek (AR, USA)


Rachel is a fiddler, print artist, and folklorist with a background in art and cultural policy and arts-focused grassroots organizing in underserved communities. She has received fellowships from the Southern Foodways Alliance to document Arkansas barbecue and was in the first cohort of Creative Community Fellows through National Arts Strategies. She is the Head Project Steward of Cultural Programs at Meadowcreek Inc. Rachel is a frequent presenter on topics of cultural sustainability and rural art and culture at conferences across the country and a member of the International Creative Placemaking Leadership Council. She is Co-founder of The People’s Library and Founder and Principal of Cultural Continuum Consulting. She is a Curator for the 2023 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the feature of which is Ozark culture, and stories by or about Rachel and her work have been published in Mother Earth News, Upworthy, Acres U.S.A., and University of Georgia Press among others.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"I have spent the last 20 years working to bring arts accessibility to rural spaces across the Ozarks, but especially in Arkansas. I have developed a community-based approach to community development through the lens of art and culture, specifically using techniques from public folklore, cooperative development, and restoration/sustainability models from the natural world. I have become a leader in guiding these conversations for organizations, brain trusts, and policy makers across the country using the model I have developed as a core principle.


Most notable accomplishments: The People’s Library and its Rural Collaborative Exchange program, a placekeeping project working with communities through facilitated dialog to address community challenges and equity issues to co-create public art projects in rural spaces with community members and artist Olivia Trimble.


We have been pilot programs for the American Library Association’s Civic Imagination Station Project and Rural Community Alliance’s Racial Equity Exchange Program.


The Oregon County Food Producers and Artisans Co-Op: It was a Missouri Project, but this honed creating a model that was a cooperative working with artisans and food producers to create a community hub for reinvestment/job skill development and communal art presentation space that became a national model featured in publications and presentations across the country.


Old Time For All: Festivals: We co-created the first “safe space” old time music gathering in the region with LGBTQIA+ artists and allies, including workshops, performances, dances, contests, and jam sessions at Meadowcreek, of which I am a participant and organizer. This year, in addition to the Old-Time For All festival, we will host an Arkansas Country Blues and Stringband Festival deconstructing otherness between rural Black and white communities by focusing on musical traditions with a shared repertoire and instrumentation. I serve both the roles of artist and of organizer."



Rebecca Jane Edwards

Rebecca Jane Edwards, Cultural Arts For Everyone (CAFE) (TN, USA)


Rebecca Edwards has creativity, vision and passion for the performing arts and is the Founder/Executive Director of Cultural Arts For Everyone, a non-profit presenting arts organisation with a reputation of providing diverse artistic experiences that educate, entertain, and engage students, new audiences, and underserved communities. Under her leadership, the organisation presented more than 90 productions and reached more than 117,000 individuals half of them school-age children. Ms. Edwards was born in Tupelo, MS and raised in Memphis, TN. She received a BS in Economics and Finance from Christian Brothers University and a BS in Health Information Management from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Ms. Edwards has a passion for foreign travel and an appreciation for other cultures. As a result, she has travelled to Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"As the founding Executive Director, I wanted CAFÉ (Cultural Arts For Everyone) to be more than just a presenting arts organization in Memphis. A major motivation for me was that I wanted youth to see artists of color and ethnicity in lead roles and as vocal soloist, as well as provide emerging artists with mentoring opportunities via master classes and or lecture/demonstrations. CAFÉ ‘s educational offerings were transformative experience that went far beyond a field trip opportunity for students, especially those who attended schools lacking the resources to engage youth in world-class performances.


Equally so, CAFÉ was a resource for teachers to learn ways of Integrating performing arts into their core curriculum. For innovative programming and for expanding racial and ethnic participation in regional arts and culture, Woman of Achievement recognized me as an honoree in its “Determination” category. My organization also received a coveted Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Partners in Education designation to provide educators with professional development workshops and for performance workshops for their students.


My efforts helped to change the cultural landscape of the performing arts in Memphis. I strongly believe that music is the universal language of love and it can be used as a bridge builder. The most memorable concert was with Al Jarreau and the opening act was Nuttin But Stringz. The audience was very diverse in age and race. The sight of blue haired ladies with opera glasses moving to the beat of classical trained hip hop violinist warmed my heart. CAFÉ` also presented Wynton Marsalis with Jazz in Lincoln Center Orchestra. Mr. Marsalis conducted a Duke Ellington Master Class for Overton High School Jazz band students."



Sydney Guettette

Sydney Guerrette, Be The Change Youth Initiative (TN, USA)


Sydney Guerrette serves as the founder and president of Be The Change Youth Initiative and with her brother, Brayden, makes up the indie duo In the Company of Wolves. Passionately committed to educating, equipping and empowering youth to use their gifts and talents to create change in their communities, Sydney blends purpose and artistry when it comes to the mission of youth mental health advocacy and how our connection to community positively impacts our mental well-being. Together with her brother, Sydney has embarked on a transformative nationwide journey, artfully intertwining their personal mental health narratives within their musical expressions, devoting themselves to the pressing issue of youth suicide prevention. Sydney is a Tedx presenter, a Juried Artist for Music to Life, and a member of the Sofar Sounds music community.


How do you use music to have a positive impact in your community? Share the most noteworthy milestones of this journey.


"In 2019, my brother and I traveled the country performing and talking to youth about mental health advocacy, specifically suicide prevention. We happened to be in Chattanooga, Tennessee when Covid put an end to our travels and we now call this community our home. Since relocating here, we have started Concert For A Cause, a concert series focused on highlighting local musicians and businesses, while raising funds for local non-profits working with youth in our community. Since September 2021, we've raised over $30,000 for local non-profits in the Greater Chattanooga Area.


Additionally, we partner with a local coffee shop for our (BE)KIND INITIATIVE. With this program, we go into schools with a 30 minute show, sharing our music and our own mental health journeys, encouraging youth to see they aren't alone when it comes to facing mental health challenges. We partner with a local Mental health organization (Mental Health Association of East Tennessee) to offer schools and students free resources. And we end with having the students write encouraging notes on the sleeves that the coffee shop uses in their stores.


We are also launching a new initiative in September that encourages youth to use their gifts and talents to raise awareness and financial support for food insecurity initiatives in our community. We are providing youth with the tools to use their gifts, including their musical gifts, to advocate for things that help others. Almost all of our work centers around music, because it's such a huge part of our lives. In our most recent fundraising initiative, we raised $10,000 for Songbirds Foundation's Guitars for Kids program."


Huntsville Music Cities Convention


On 18 - 20 October, 2023 Music Cities Convention will be travelling to Huntsville, Alabama, USA for its 12th global edition. The event will take place in the prestigious Von Braun Center and will feature presentations, panels and roundtables to showcase the latest best practices exploring the use and importance of music in the development of cities all around the world. All of the above will be combined with several live music events and exciting networking opportunities. ​


The three-day event follows the publication of the Huntsville Music Audit and Strategy that aimed at creating a more dynamic music environment, from education to creation, production and performance, in a way that strengthened Huntsville’s growing economy. During the two convention days, we’ll discuss topics such as global music city policies, music & economic development, music and technology, music and education, the role of music in future cities, the night time economy, supporting musicians, city & place branding, music tourism, music & real estate, music for community building and more.


Learn all about the Music Cities Convention here.

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