Artist Bios

Rachael N. Blackwell, Lighting Designer & Curator - Rachael N. Blackwell is a native of the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts with an emphasis on Technical Theatre from Alabama State University and her MFA in Lighting Design & Technology from CCM, University of Cincinnati. Rachael is a freelance designer whose main interests lie in working collaboratively with other creatives across the many different mediums of art. She enjoys working on original and new works as well as opportunities that allow her to stay connected to her African American roots. She was the 2020 recipient of both the Gilbert Hemsley Lighting Internship and the Judy Dearing Design Competition for Lighting, presented by the Black Theatre Network (BTN.)


 

Dr. V Efua Prince, Spoken Word - Dr. Prince is a professor of African American Studies at Wayne State University whose research centers on the complexities of home. Her writing often takes an interdisciplinary form as history, poetry, drama, and performance, in order to transform the history of black women into political art. She is the author of Burnin’ Down the House: Home in African American Literature (2005), Daughter’s Exchange (2018), and numerous other creative works. First published in The Masters Review, Prince’s award-winning essay, “June,” represents the interconnectedness of rape with global and historical factors.

 

J. Regina Blackwell, Vocal Selection - J. Regina Blackwell is a professor of English (Composition, and American literature) at Thomas Nelson Community College. She has published several creative pieces, including an African adaptation of The Brothers’ Grimm children’s story, “The Twelve Brothers” and an article advocating for the continued teaching of African American Literature, entitled “African American Literature and Post-Racial America. Or, You Know, Not.” which can be found in Inquiry: The Journal of Community Colleges. Ms. Blackwell’s mellow, tenor voice can also be heard on Heat From the Heavens and Redemption, VA-based saxophonist Sam Rucker’s jazz albums. She was also the voiceover artist for a historical re-telling of Thomas Nelson’s humble beginnings until now. 

 

Anwei Kilgore, Vocal Selection - Anwei Kilgore studied voice at Old Dominion University and since has performed in several mini-operas and musical theatre performances. Her most memorable was the South American tour of Porgy & Bess with the Virginia Opera Association. She is also a vocalist with the award-winning band “Seed Is…”, who has toured all over the east coast. She now serves as the Praise & Worship Leader and Youth Choir Director at New Genesis Baptist Church as well as teaching private voice lessons through her company “Wei Voices.”

 

Dianna Wright, Spoken Word - Dianna Wright is a lover of people; a lover of serving, inspiring, and motivating people through her own journey and experiences in life. She uses her divine gifts and talents to give back to the world in any way that she can. She serves professionally as a director and advocate for underserved adults and children who struggle with mental health disabilities. Dianna has written many pieces over the years; "We Have The Power", "I'm Lost in This Place", "My Time", and "A Grateful Thing" are among those she is most proud of. She has also spoken at several community events in and around the city of Richmond. Dianna is currently working on completing her first book of inspirational and motivational stories in addition to starting her own company, “Charism Unlimited”.

 

Rain Spann, Visual Artist - Rain Spann is an emerging artist, who primarily works with oil and acrylic paint, pastels, and ink to depict abstract forms in vivid colors. His use of vibrant colors embodies the organic and geometric forms seen between the digital and physical realms. Spann’s “Geometric-Organicism” investigates form and media to capture their raw qualities and interactions. His interpretations bring new life to his surroundings and inspirations aligned with the ideals of surrealism and other modern art movements. Today, Rain finds himself being drawn to all branches of creating; whether it be sculpting, digital

manipulation, drawing, painting, or even collage. Rain has achieved success in National Groupshows from Virginia Beach all the way to San Francisco and New York, International Groupshows in Taiwan, and even his first Solo Exhibition in Washington D.C. 

Donald Allen Lee III, Classical Pianist - Donald Lee III received his Master’s Degree in Piano from CCM, where he was a Yates Scholar and student of Awadagin Pratt. He has won numerous awards and prizes including MTNA, Harold Protsman Classical Period Competition, and the Eastern Music Festival Concerto Competition. He has made appearances as soloist with the James Madison University Symphony Orchestra in VA, as well as the Guilford Symphony Orchestra in NC. He also received instruction from Brazilian pianist Luiz de Moura Castro during his undergraduate years. Having attended the Eastern Music Festival, the Chautauqua Institution, the Art of the Piano festival, and the Wintergreen Festival (which he was invited to attend after winning the VMTA Piano Concerto Competition), he has had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses for renowned pianists such as Boris Slutsky, Jim Giles, Paul Schenly, and Yong Hi Moon to name a few.