Woman Crush Wednesday: Audrey Valentine

Just coming across this talented artist, Audrey Valentine can quickly catch your ear with her vocal talent. Even more so, her ambition as an artist can intrigue! Following up with vocal training at UIUC after studying at a Gallery 37 music training program from a young age, she seems to intuitively gravitate towards her musical inclinations. She built herself an impressive resumé of singles, mixtapes and events to set a foundation for herself. Most impressive is a charity event she curated where fans came together in the name of music to donate clothing and other items to South Side homeless youth, showing unity through generosity.

It is no surprise such compassion can come from such a deliciate yet powerful voice. Recently covering the track GET YOU by Daniel Caesar, following a collaboration with Kid Breeze, Audrey brings chills to your spine with her acoustic performance. Since 2015 she has released a couple of EP’s, FORBIDDEN FRUIT & LOVE HANGOVER, and a handful of singles. It is easy to say she is only scratching the surface at her potential and influence in Chicago.

Audrey Valentine | Spotify | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Jocelyn Garrett with Rebuilding

Music is the great motivator, many pick it up along the way and to others it comes naturally. For Jocelyn Garrett it seems to have been embedded within her from birth! With tales of being vocal during her own baptism and singing off the top of the head during her fathers jam band practices, music becomes more and more abundant in her life naturally. She then got into singing at church choirs for a while before sports and basketball became a priority, putting singing on hiatus. But a move into Chicago puts her focus back into music and this time she is all in!

Deciding to be proactive, Jocelyn takes her voice to the streets of Chicago, where she meets producer Justin James, who is inspired by her talent. This becomes a pivitol moment, as the two started working together. To follow up on her debut EP GOLD, Jocelyn and Justin complete an 11 track LP titled REBUILDING, which saw its release on the 18th of November this year. Combining Soul, R&B and Dance Music, Jocelyn does a good job delivering a mutual connection through emotion and energy with the listener. With a powerful and composed voice of a veteran vocalist, her message of self love and motivation will move and connect with you to your core!

Jocelyn Garrett | Spotify | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Freddie Old Soul on Soul Work

Her status reads, “As I prepare for the release of this dope ass content, I hope all my friends and fans understand my distance. I’ve been working non stop on making my dreams come true.” Following Freddie Old Soul can inspire, given her unapologetic freedom of self and her spiritual perspectives. Too imperfect to be called a conscious rapper however her ideologies seep into her rhymes driven by street smart bravado. Simply put, she is as real as they come!

Old Soul been on hiatus but don’t you worry because she got everything that you need in this mother f**ker. She comes back strong after leaving everyone with a taste of HONEY with a music video. In her silence she has been putting together her SOUL WORK, while managing her life and motherhood. She is easily a strong figure and influence for women in hip hop and music in general, just by being herself. Old Soul has put together a listening party for her upcoming project SOUL WORK, along with a documentary of her writing and experiences as an artist in Chicago with SurrealChi at 3101 N Sheffield this November 24th at 8pm.

Photo by: IG @lvcastorres

Freddie Old Soul | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Jovan Landry

As far as influential women go, there is one that deserves the most praise and recognition! The one third emcee, photographer and film maker, Jovan Landry, has had a seriously busy year connecting with different collectives, producing music and working the camera. Humbly yet passionately challenging male dominated roles and uplifting women in her industry. She has created quite a rank for herself, an international interdisciplinary artist.

Over the last year alone she has lead a workshop centered around female music producers at A3C Festival and Conference in ATL. She was also involved in a project for Green House Artist Showcase with Dorchester Housing and Art Collective, demonstrating the historical employment of the black female body as a tool for manual labor with Keyierra Collins. Also helped the film Red Clay Dance Company and even was apart of a strength challenge with TBFit. Just to point out a few achievements, because her list of skills go on for ever!

That is all just within the year, her discography and skill set goes much deeper. Recently Jovan has released an album with SynergyChi, a collective of her own creation, made up entirely of creative women with talents in vocals, engineering, graphic design, photography, the works. Supported by WeWork Creator Awards, they have also been featured in Chicago Tribune, Vocalo Radio, NPR and on ABC7 for a television debut. SynergyChi also was chosen to speak in St. Louis University for Women in Hip Hop Conference and in Berlin for WeWork Creator Awards.

Jovan is force of influence, not stopping at the camera, production and building collectives either. She also influences growing artists too, through her video blogging tutorials and guiding tools on her Youtube channel. Yet some of her best work comes from her soul and her music. You can see it when she performs live at events like Jeff Fest, Wicker Park Fest, Hoist Fest or at smaller venues like Emporium or Silver Room. Her music and her lyricism is of consciousness and quality after a short busy hiatus she has released her single Made It Thru following her Synergy LP release.

Jovan | Soundcloud Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Feature Photo: Briana Clearly

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Tmuny

Fierce, beautiful and passionate are words that come to mind for this weeks WCW. “Creative, ambitious, and pretty badass!” Is how up and coming R&B artist T$, or TMUNY, describes herself. And it is not hard to understand why. On the road to self love and discovery, the Chicagoan artist is only 20 years old and is a professional model, actress, R&B singer and fashion designer. And that is only skimming the surface. 

It is not often that we meet an artist as dynamic as TMUNY. She started writing her own poetry, filling numerous journals in the process, and music at a young age. She was also dabbling in music production as a senior in high school. Her music is in her own words, trap princess music, reminiscent of Jhene Aiko and Syd.

With a somewhat complicated past, as all artists have, TMUNY has experienced a lot in her life. It is those experiences, from family, past relationships, her goals, and her own personal perspective of life, that she chooses to sing about. Her music has is smart, confident and rich with undertones of Chicago throughout. 

When she is not writing and recording her music, you can find her modeling. As a professionally trained freelance model, she has worked with Iridium Clothing and has been inspired to start her own fashion line, titled after her own name. She is also an actress and had a solo performance in New York for National Women’s Day. She also stars in a short film that will be released around Christmas time. 

While she maintains a balance between her different areas of artistic expression, her favorite method is writing and singing. Doing so since the age of four, sixteen years later she is releasing her own EP. The culmination of hard work, dedication and passion. The EP, releasing November 16th, is titled HEALING and is co produced by Malcolm Flex. You can find her music on Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube, to name a few of her platforms.

Tmuny | Soundcloud | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Isabel Bravo

Imagine that Salvador Dali and Frida Khalo have a brain child and the personification of that image is a Chicago native, Isabel Bravo. Currently a student at Harold Washington College, Isabel is a multifaceted artist with experience in animation, photography, performing and visual arts. If you can name it, she’s probably done it. At age 20, she has already been director of art festivals and has had her art exhibited in the Flatiron Art Center in Wicker Park. The majority of her visual arts work has been by commission, however as of recent months she’s been taking those first steps, to present her own unique ideas and style to the masses. 

Although she started creating art as a child, her pursuit of a degree in art therapy and her art career both began at the same time. Isabel self discovered the positive effects of art therapy as a method of coping with her depression, which she also attributes to her start as a serious artist. It was during a month long stay in a hospital during her 16th year. What started as a way to combat the boredom that comes prepackaged with hospital stays, became a therapeutic yet challenging leap into a world, where she was forced to confront her self and her perception of herself through art. It was this month that helped produce the expressive surrealism that is heavily present in Isabel’s personal artwork.

With self portraits making up the majority of her non-commissioned art, it makes sense that the main influences on her style comes from Peter Paul Ruben, a renowned portrait artist of his time. The goal of her art is to present and share an idea, message or story that draws the viewer into the visuals and cause them to ponder; who they are, what they’re here for, even where they’ve been? Hers is an increasingly successful attempt to represent those hidden emotions we often dismiss, through artistic mediums. Are you up to the challenge her artwork presents?

Isabel Bravo | Instagram | Facebook

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WCW: Amare Symoné Bares Her Soul With Insecure

This is the first time that Amare Symoné’s music has come through submissions and her new single INSECURE certainly does not disappoint. The instrumental is absolutely heavenly. The synths are stunningly melodic and are ethereal to the point where they had you in a daze upon first listen. The percussion and harmonies floating in the background give the beat a kaleidoscopic feel and it is very easy to get lost in everything that is going on.

Symoné’s vocals float over the top of the instrumentation perfectly. She croons about love and trust issues with the passion of someone experiencing true heartache. The melancholy tone of her voice really drives that home. With INSECURE, Amare Symoné has pulled together a track that is dreamy in tone and emotive in poetics. She bares her soul in every lyric she sings and for her, connecting to the listener takes minimal effort.

INSECURE is now available on all platforms.

Amare Symoné | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Neha Chawla

Neha Chawla speaks softly in conversation, yet her creations are viscerally expressive. Despite her slight frame she looks tough, adorned in her trademark gothic face paint and a neck full of chains, swimming in a large black hoodie. Bleach spots draw the eye to her low-top Vans, sleeves and hair, all of which bear her fledgling fashion brand 2000zero’s distorted aesthetic. A lifelong painter with a keen sense of hustle, Chawla began customizing clothes for friends and acquaintances to fund the materials for the brand’s initial wave of releases not long ago. Though she will still take commissions personally (act fast, the price is only going up), she keeps the brand separate from her other endeavors, maintaining its lean, organized chaos, stylistic identity. We meet on DePaul’s campus where Chawla studies psychology, which makes increasing sense as we talk; her mind is as analytical as it is creative. Along with her business partner Lupe, with whom she splits executive responsibility for 2000zero, Chawla has built the brand from a nostalgia-evoking concept.  Curating a collection of unique, hand-treated garments, that are sold more like art pieces than like typical apparel. In addition to creating 2000zero pieces, Chawla handles social media for the company and sources models for visual campaigns. She is often appearing in them as well. The first two drops so far have featured a limited selection of one-off t-shirts, each designed using bleach as a primary medium. Through a proprietary and somewhat impulsive creative process, about which Chawla is careful not to say too much, every shirt has a completely irreplicable look. With distinct lines, shapes, shades and splatters they create a variety of striking visual effects. Mastery of technique allows different styles to emerge with logically-assigned titles like THE GRID; criss-crossed by thick, industrial lines and washed out in the middle, resembling a decaying chain link fence. Somewhere between patterned and fully abstract, all the shirts in 2000zero’s current collection offer free-form explorations of texture grounded in (roughly) symmetry-minded sensibility. From the psychedelic, tie dye-inspired rifts of THE SUNSET to the bold pools and streaks of THE BLEEDER. The longer you look at one, the more detail you inevitably find yourself appreciating, not unlike staring at clouds. Chawla believes the openness of her art to interpretation directly contributes to its impact, since more people can identify with less specificity. Intrigued by 2000zero’s product line and Chawla’s own artwork, I wanted to learn more straight from the triple threat artist, model and COO herself. This interview has been edited for style and clarity. “How did you get involved in art and fashion design?” “I’ve been doing art all my life but I just started this designing shit like five months ago. I’m from Maryland and no one really has their own style there They’re all kind of wearing the same things. Then I moved to Chicago and all of a sudden everyone is dressing different, so I was influenced by all the streetwear here. Growing up in the suburbs it’s hard to see a lot of individuality there. It’s easier in the city to stand out and be unique, especially when you know how to dress yourself.” “Describe your personal style.” “I try to have everything color-coordinated but not like I’m trying too hard, does that make sense? It really depends on how I’m feeling, but most of the time it’s pretty gothic; I like heavy chains, I like wearing black. I don’t necessarily want to label myself but I would say my style is mostly dark. Art is an expression of an emotion, so the way I dress and the way I make my art are the same.” “Is there a different process to produce each design?” “There is, but I can’t talk about it too much (laughs). My business partner and I both come up with ideas, but sometimes he’ll just throw the bleach and see what happens while I kind of have a little more planning to it. I really value having unique pieces because when something’s handmade and you can get it from the creators, themselves, it’s very personal. Like ‘here’s your pink shirt, you’re not gonna get that ever again,’ you know? We’re really all about being one-on-one.” “So it’s not only a totally individual piece someone gets to own but also an individual connection to you guys as people, that’s awesome. Going back to the beginning, where did the 2000zero brand identity come from?” “My business partner and I wanted to re-imagine the shitty style sense of the early 2000s by making clothes that would have been really cool back then. The early 2000s were such a mess bro, oh my God.” “What does the immediate future of the brand look like?” “We’re not gonna be bleaching anymore after the third drop. It’s gonna be completely different; A lot more eccentric, a lot of bright colors. You can expect that around December most likely. I eventually want to expand out of Chicago and grow national, still have each style be unique but have them in multiple sizes instead of literally just the one.” “What else are you working on artistically right now?” A lot of abstract painting, a lot of ink drawings and tattoo designs for people. I’m also doing some merch for an artist friend of mine. Lately it’s been explosions of emotion, a little bit all-over-the-place. I use different colors based on how I’m feeling and hopefully people will be able to see and feel those differences. I never have a plan for when I’m painting but when I do ink drawings, sometimes those are figures I see in my head. For example I did one drawing of a woman fading away and kind of unravelling into thread. I feel like a lot of my inspirations come from dreams. “Thanks so much for your time, Neha.”

Neha Chawla | 2000zero

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Woman Crush Wednesday: DJ Squadooble

What is a party without the DJ? Even the live performing artist needs their go to DJ in between setups and songs to keep an audience amused. The radio DJ can make or break an artist. The best of them can traverse genres, no matter who is listening and make their body move. Some can even influence music cultures with their sound and style.

Many times in our publications we recognize the vocal or spotlight artist. Tonight however we highlight the DJ’s role in music through DJ Squadooble. Albeit a young artist she made her way into the nightlife industry with ease. To personal friends and acquaintances she is the life of the party, to her associates in music she is the controller of the party.

Introduced into house parties, she quickly becomes popular with local promoters. Her diverse genre base welcomed her to spin at popular local clubs and lounges such as Debonair, Lokal, Simones, Harbees and even made her way to local neighborhood festivals over a short period of time. With a variety of genres from latin influences to hip hop and dance music, if you are in the vicinity of her sound she will make your body move! Making a return to Simones in Pilsen this third weekend of September she will be a judge for a twerk contest under the Ever Evolved banner spinning alongside DJ Hunt, rocking the crowd and backing up features artists like ESSSE, T.Z. Duhh, I C Y and more.

The mix below is old news but the magic is in the present. Follow her pages below and get in tune with DJ Squadooble and catcher her spinnin live.

Dj Squadooble | Facebook | Instagram

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Woman Crush Wednesday: Fury

In an industry of hyper sexualized and misogynistic music coming from both men and women, as read from her bio, Fury represents raw and unfiltered hip hop. Through passionate lyrics about life, relationships and perspectives, Fury does more to preserve authenticity in hip hop than the mainstream does as a whole. A powerful voice with an old school flow her lyricism is unmatched and inspiring, giving voice to many women who aspire to be music artists. As more and more women filter into Chicago’s music industry we recognize Fury’s fearless influence.

When Fury started releasing music almost 6 years she would be entering a scene mostly dominated by male artists. She would have to do more to get noticed, but that did not bother her because she would bring something different to the table. With street wise lyricism and flow comparable to Tupac and Lauryn Hill, coupled with her ambition, she would set it off. Nothing would stop her once she got connected to the right people and started performing live and collaborating with other artists.

Introduced to Fury at an Ever Evolved Empower Herstory event at AMFM Gallery, she takes the stage and the audience with ease. Her ability on the mic is undeniable and her stage presence is unforgettable. At the time having few LPs and a handful of singles in her back pocket. Today she performs live with a band with her latest LP BLACK MAGIC, fusing hip hop and rock music genres and finishing off a tour to work on new music for 2020. From her first releases like FEAR all the way to BLACK MAGIC, she holds the same fire in her soul and she really lets you know; I would recommend you going to a show, see below.

Fury | Soundcloud | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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