Check the Rhyme: 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.”

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.”

Featured artists

  • 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
  • One
  • 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.

For more information, visit and follow BlackRVA on Facebook and Twitter.

— ∮∮∮ —

Sources: National Fatherhood Imitative, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Census Bureau

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Marc Cheatham

Marc Cheatham is the creator of The Cheats Movement Blog. The Cheats Movement is a forward looking blog designed to highlight the city of Richmond and all of its diversity through photos, art, film, and music.

Notice: Comments that are not conducive to an interesting and thoughtful conversation may be removed at the editor’s discretion.

  1. So proud to have these artists and people as part of our community!!

  2. Proud to be a part of a city and community that creates such great, purposeful work. Keep it up, BlackRVA.

  3. MiMi on said:

    This article is great!! This video and song are amazing! What a great city is this that we live in! I am proud to be a Richmonder or now RVAer LOL! Go VCU!

  4. I am soooo glad I was a part of this movement!!!!!

  5. Jae Mac on said:

    Such a phenominal project for the community with hopes to UPLIFT, EDUCATE, UNITE and GROW!

  6. Great song….great colloboration of folks from the #rva area…it shows how people can come together through their own individual talents, as a whole to inspire others all who hears it…personally the song brings light to my movement which is to motivate people to do better then what they have been doing in a successful/positive/productive way “wake up everybody” PEACE!!

  7. Dene't on said:

    Motivated and inspired by such a great initiative made to bring awareness and support to those that live work and strive for the great RVA! I look forward to it’s future.

  8. Chelsea on said:

    I love the article and song. I am so proud to be from a city that honors and values positive art and music. Let’s continue to uplift our community. Great work!

  9. Alani on said:

    This is not only a great rendition of “Wake Up Evrybody” but also represents a meaningful cause within the Richmond community and hopefully beyond. Thank you to everyone involved for sharing your gifts and talents to inspire and make a difference.

  10. Lena on said:

    I am a former Richmonder now living in Maryland. Great video for the city and the youth of Richmond. Very positive message that can be understood by all. Congratulations to all persons involved in the production of this video and the message it sends. We need more like you.

  11. Zoey B. on said:

    This article is absolutely AMAZING and the video…Is totally awesome!!! FINALLY something POSITIVE about this city that I can say I’m proud of!!! To have this much talent in RVA is pleasantly shocking!!! I’m so proud & honored to have been part of this video & look forward to what’s to come in the future!!!! I am glad to be a part of something GREAT! Let’s keep up the great work!!! Go BLACKRVA!!!!

  12. lil omar on said:

    So glad to be part of this project. Salute to BLACKRVA and all the talented artist I worked with. Good way show unity in 804.

  13. Raymond Cottman on said:

    It was an honor to work with talented folks selected for this project. You don’t always get those opportunities, and when you do, you appreciate it so much. To be known by folks like Ty, Deleyse, Jon, Jarrard, Brittany, Amzi, Mimi, and so many others, I’ll always be able to say I worked with them.

  14. Nice video, I was wondering who is the old man bopping his head, he looks like my father who died last June 25. Our roots are from Richmond.

  15. Diana he is man that frequent’s Monroe Park on the weekend, an area where the Homeless meet, eat, and receive outreach and help.

  16. Honored to be apart of this project and the movement. It’s time for change and Black RVA is making moves in the right direction to make change in our communities. Let’s all continue to support Black RVA and other organizations like it that strive to evoke positive change in our society. Thank you all for the love and support!!! And a special thank you to the writers and original performers of this timeless classic; and for them allowing us the opportunity to remake it into our own. God Bless!!!

  17. Awesome message and video! Much love to u richmond

  18. Ken's Grammy on said:

    This Video is Awesome ! GREAT Big Round of Applause to all that had hands in it !

  19. TaShana Jaudon on said:

    This is an excellent production and I am so proud and excited for something so positive to come out of Richmond. Great job Mimi and Azmi and to all the artist! I have shared this with many and will continued to be encouraged by the message as I share it with the teens I work with.

  20. Renee S on said:

    Nice message,voices, production and representation

  21. Duran on said:

    I appreciate the article and love the song. Continue to be successful and positive. Go FFC!!!

  22. Hats off to BlachRVA and the other masterminds behind this project. It was a privilege to be able to share in creating this experience. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

  23. Hats off to BlackRVA! Is what that should read lol!

  24. Ro Thomas on said:

    The level of effort given by these artist and BlackRVA is amazing. It’s about time we as a people take an interest ourselves and stop with the crab mentality of not wanting to see our own people get further in life than we are. I’m so proud to say that a person so near and dear to my heart can be affiliated with a project like this one. Richmond, stand up and support BlackRVA’s future efforts. The world is about to take notice to a movement…so proud!

  25. Karen on said:

    Awesome video and message!!!!!

  26. Louise on said:

    Thank to everyone involed for sharing your grifts and talents to the whole world

  27. Diane Smith on said:

    We all are given special gifts; our gift back to God is to use them for others benefit and to His glory! My, my, my so much talent – beautiful voices, good music, nice filming, powerful lyrics. A totally GOOD package. Thank You…I’m proud of everyone of you young people – keep up the good work!

  28. great article! great project! GREAT work! #rVA

  29. Tomeka Carroll on said:

    Congrats BlackRVA!! Amazing job! Everything was done with excellence. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of history in the making. I look forward more great things from Richmond, VA and BlackRVA. Keep up the good work!!!

  30. Melanie Cheatham on said:

    Love the video, love the article. BlackRVA….Lets GO!!!!!

  31. Great video, provides quite a positive influence for cultural change!!

  32. Sydney Harris on said:

    This came together BEAUTIFULLY! This is what RVA needs more of and I am so proud of all who were apart and even those who wanted to but couldnt, b/c ur heart was in the right place. Keep doing what you all are doing and there is no way the city wont listen!! :)!!! CONGRATS ON A MASTER PIECE!!

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