What started as a conversation among friends regarding the struggles of their community has now grown into one of the most inspirational viral videos ever to come out of RVA: BlackRVA’s Richmond rendition of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ classic, “Wake Up Everybody.”
What started as a conversation among friends regarding the struggles of their community has now grown into one of the most inspirational viral videos ever to come out of RVA. BlackRVA’s Richmond rendition of the Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’ classic, “Wake Up Everybody”, has been viewed 10,000 times in just one week. The video project is the public launch of the BlackRVA website, which will serve as a free, community-based resource that highlights African American culture and promotes African American businesses in the City of Richmond.
Featuring a collection of Richmond musicians and artist, the video has taken the city by storm. The song was recorded last year at New Millennium Studios in Petersburg and mixed at In Your Ear Studios right here in Richmond. It features: 5 musicians, 12 singers, 4 MC’s, and 1 spoken word artist. In total, approximate 40 people, all with significant ties to RVA, worked on the project. The music was produced by Amzi Jackson of Untitled Music and Media. He is also the founder of the Urban Music Producers Association. “Amzi is an amazing talent. His music always has a powerful and uplifting message.” said Mimi Wentz, one of the creators of BlackRVA.
Though the organization is called BlackRVA, I was quickly informed by Wentz that BlackRVA is not intended to separate people of color, “We want to showcase our history, businesses, and good works, and anyone that is willing to help that effort is welcome to do so.” BlackRVA has already highlighted this point by tapping the extremely talented video director Wesley Rose to direct the Wake Up Everybody video. “From the start of the project Wesley has been family,” said Wentz of the 18 year old Fredericksburg native, who is white. “Not only do we not want to separate ourselves based on race, we do not want to compete with any other organization. We want to work with all of the groups that are addressing critical issues in the African American community here in RVA,” said Wentz.
The statistics are staggering, nearly 2 in 3 (64%) African American children live in father-absent homes, African Americans are the racial/ethnic group most affected by HIV and AIDS, African American homeownership fell to 44% in 2011 (and is still declining), unemployment is far worse than the national average, foreclosures, predatory lending, incarceration rates, you name it, the numbers paint a troubling trend for African Americans in the U.S. These trends were not lost on Mimi Wentz and a group of her close friends, “I just got tired of waiting for someone else to do something,” said Wentz on the creation of BlackRVA. “It’s like the quote, ‘We are the one we’ve been waiting for,’ I have a young daughter and I decided now is the time to do something to address these issues that are not talked about enough in our community.”
- Z. Bey
- Lela Bizz
- Ty Francis
- Deleyse Rowe
- Jon Bibbs
- Nicki McMullen
- Garnett Boldin
- Jarrad Anthony
- Hannah Skyye
- Brithe Songstress
- Tomeka Carroll
- Raymond Cottman
- Francois Hamilton
- Corey P
- Tamir Rock
- Lil Omar
The concept of producing a song came to Wentz after hearing a series of inspiring sermons by her Pastor Calvin Duncan and a conversation with the song’s producer, Jackson. “We originally talked about doing an original song but ultimately came to the conclusion that putting our own spin on a popular, uplifting song would translate our message the best. I did not know how to acquire the rights to a song so I just basically started cold calling places with ties to the song, “Wake Up Everybody.” Wentz eventually found the rightful owners of the song and got a great deal because they intend to use the song for a promotion only and not for profit.”
Wentz admits to being shock by the popularity of the video, “We really wanted to launch it in Black History Month and if you notice we posted pretty late in the month (February 28). It went live at 8 PM, and all I heard after that was my cell phone buzzing with all the feedback. It’s been amazing,” said Wentz.
Now the real work begins for BlackRVA, with such a successful video, Mimi and her friends will need to work harder than ever to bring the website, its applications, and resources to the community. Planning for a full website launch is underway, along with a live performance of the viral video. “Of course, just a video is not going to do the work that needs to be done in our community, but it’s a very positive start for BlackRVA. We are dedicated to really impacting the problem areas in our neighborhoods and implementing solutions,” Wentz said in conclusion.
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Sources: National Fatherhood Imitative, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Census Bureau