NEXTPLAY LIVE BAND + NEXTPLAY LIVE FLY GIRLS
Aaron Hardin is the Musical Director for 2x Grammy Nominated Recording Artist Eric Roberson and Recording Artist/Real Housewives of Potomac star Candiace Dillard. He has performed with a long list of artists to include J Cole, Pusha T, De La Soul, Pharcyde, Talib Kweli, and Slum Village. Aaron has been a part of numerous recordings, both studio and live, either as a musician or producer. His playing and arranging has been a part of the Grammy ReImagined and Nike Always On campaigns, TIDAL's "Becoming Bobby Feeno," Starz hit show "Power," and major motion film trailers for "Sicario" and "The Foreigner." He was one of the music producers and arrangers for the 3rd and 4th seasons of FOX Networks' "The Masked Singer" and most recently the 2023 UEFA Champions League Final for Burna Boy and Anitta.
HIP HOP ARTIST
Platinum selling recording artist Dres of the timeless hip hop group Black Sheep.
THE AWESOME 2
Awesome 2 (aka Special K & Tedd Tedd) are pioneers in the music industry. They have devoted their lives to the art and in the interim have gained enormous respect. The Awesome 2 are not only known for their radio show but also for their multi-media & production company “Awesome Entertainment”, which boasts projects that include music production, management brand development, lifestyle marketing, television film & video production, domestic/international events & concerts, as well as consultancy. A2 are two of the most hip-hop literate and well-known figures in the hip-hop community. The A2 radio show on 105.9 WHBI is legendary. They are currently on SCRATCHVISION and CHUCK D'S RAPSTATION. Awesome 2 are well-known international arena, club, and party DJs who have played all over the world: London, Switzerland, Germany, France, Brussels, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Africa & Canada. They have played many major venues and events including The World Cup French Victory Celebration where they appeared on stage with international superstars Jean Michelle Jarre and Tetsuya TK Komoro held at the Eiffel Tower (Parc Du Champ De Mars) with over 1.3 million in attendance. Madison Square Garden, The World Famous Apollo Theater, House of Blues, BB Kings, Nokia Theatre, NYC Central Park & Summer Stage, NJ Pac “Sound’s of the City” concert series, Pleasure Island, BET Sound Stage & The Hub Stage for VIBE LIVE @ Walt Disney World. Awesome 2 does exclusive celebrity parties for clients like HBO, ESPN, Esquire, Jaguar, Jordan Brand, Fila, Scion, Target, NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor, Tennessee Titans Keith Bullock, Chris Tucker, Tony Rock, Pittsburgh Steelers Jerome Bettis, Queen Latifah, Tracy Morgan, Michelle Rodriguez, Philadelphia 76ers Derrick Coleman, NJ Nets Jason Williams, Dennis Rodman, Actor Marcus Chong (The Matrix), Vibe, Source, American Music Awards, ABFF, Bloomingdales, Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Luxor Las Vegas etc. Awesome 2 are special invited guests on various radio shows across the U.S. and abroad including HOT 97, Power 105, WBLS 1075 (NYC), 92.3 Da Beat (L.A.), HOT 97.5 (ATL), Skyrock FM, Generations FM, 88.2 Radio Nova 101.5 (FRANCE), BBC 1Xtra / Choice FM (LONDON), Freeway 77.7-(JAPAN). Awesome 2 have produced, remixed, managed, and worked with some of hip-hop’s best: Nice & Smooth, EPMD, Audio 2, Edog & Da Bulldogs, BDP, Positive K, Busta Rhymes, Rakim, P Diddy, DJ Cam, DJ Premier, Mary J Blige to name a few. Awesome 2 has been featured on Fox 5 Good Day N.Y., MTV’s: Direct Effect, The Carson Daly Show, Mix-Tape Mondays, and YO MTV Raps! , BET’s: 106 & Park, RAP CITY, Planet Groove, The Basement, Teen Summit and NIHON (BET in Japan), MUCH Music’s DA MIX (CANADA) MSG Network, UPN 9 News, Weekend Vibe, etc. They continue to receive press coverage from Getty Images, Wire Image, Vibe, Source, Scratch, Billboard, Rap Pages, Hip Hop Weekly, The Fader, Urban Latino, XXL, OZONE, KING, etc., and are featured in several books: “Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip Hop Culture” “Check The Technique” “All Music Guide To Hip Hop”, “Rakim Told Me”, “Who Shot Ya”, “Break It Down”, ”Ego Trips Book Of Rap List”, “The Gospel of Hip Hop” etc. You can also see the Awesome 2 in various music videos and motion pictures (“Beats Rhyme’s & Life: The Travels of ATCQ, “Battle Sounds”, “Who’s The Man”, “Let's Get Busy” etc.). Awesome 2 has the longest-running Hip-Hop show in the world and are inductees to the prestigious Paley Center (Museum of Television & Radio). Their accomplishments, respect among their peers, and a faithful fan base has cemented their popularity in the music industry. With over 30 years in an ever-changing industry, A2 continues to stand the test of time.
NICE & SMOOTH
HIP HOP ARTIST
Nice & Smooth are an East Coast hip hop duo from New York that consists of Greg Nice (Greg Mays) and Smooth B (Daryl Barnes). Greg Nice broke into the music scene as a beat boxer for Hip Hop Legend T-La Rock. While Smooth B honed his skills at local talent shows, blending lyrics with harmonies. Nice & Smooth came together thru an introduction by a mutual friend in 1985. They put out their first single independently in1986 before they signed to Sleeping Bags Record and later DEF JAM. Their first indie single featured "Skill Trade" and "Dope on a Rope". The duo released four albums from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s. Their first collaborate appearance was on the song, "Pimpin Ain't Easy" by Big Daddy Kane on his album, It's a Big Daddy Thing in 1989.The group notably collaborated with New Kids On The Block and went on to smash stages from Madison Square Garden to the Meadowlands Arena. In 1991 the group was featured on 3rd Base's Gold Album Derelicts of Dialect on the song "Microphone Techniques". Mary J Blige featured Greg Nice on her first platinum single "You Remind Me" in 1991. Smooth B wrote rhymes for Bobby Brown that appeared on his debut album King of Stage and second album Don't Be Cruel. Greg Nice was also featured on C+C Music Factory's platinum selling single "Do you wanna get funky", furthering the group reach in the pop arena. Nice & Smooth's biggest radio fame came from "Sometimes I Rhyme Slow...," from the group's second album, Ain't a Damn Thing Changed, released in 1991. The song was a moderately somber rhyme with introspective lines about poverty, AIDS, and drugs that was set to the guitar loop from Tracy Chapman's hit "Fast Car." In the summer of 1992, the music video received heavy rotation on MTV. "Hip-Hop Junkies," which featured a sample from The Partridge Family's "I Think I Love You" was also a hit, and it was once performed live on Keenan Ivory Wayans’ comedy/variety TV show, In Living Color. The group has also appeared on Soul Train and where the first live Hip Hop Performers featured on MTV. The duo was also featured in Andre Harrell's first film Strictly Business this was Halle Berry's break out role. The duo is known for its humorous rhymes and catchy hooks. They often appeared as guest emcees on albums by the Beatnuts, Gang Starr, and Tony Touch among many others. Another notable song by the group is "Funky for You", off of their self-titled debut album. As a single it was released in 1990 and contained the following lyrics: Hey, yo, Dizzy Gillespie plays the sax! Me myself, I love to max! Red-Bone booties, I'm out to wax! Stick-up kids is out to tax! The line "stick up kids is out to tax" was later sampled by hip-hop group Gang Starr. Tupac Shakur intended to sign Greg Nice to his Makaveli label and even recorded tracks with the Greg for the One Nation album. Trugoy from De La Soul paid homage to Nice & Smooth by using each member's rhyming style in verses on the song “Simply Havin'” from De La Soul's AOI: Bionix album. In 2005, he released a single titled "Game Over," which was produced by DJ Premier. In 2010 Greg Nice found his self translating his mixture of uproarious rhymes and call-n-response routines unto a whole new generation of music lovers with his solo debut, Popcycle. In 2011 the group , who have been touring for the last 25+ years, came together to release a throwback video for the hip hop classic "No Delayin". The video has garnered a whopping 100,000 views and inspired the group to release their next single 2 Stepp in the same fashion. They may be Hip Hop Legends but Nice & Smooth will always be the peoples favorites based on the entertainment value and the integrity of the group. "One of the best shows I've ever seen, DWYCK is one of the best Hip Hop songs! " fan in London.
BIG DADDY KANE
Big Daddy Kane is an American rapper and songwriter, who captured the love of millions of fans, in the Golden Era of Hip-Hop. The Brooklyn native is known for outstanding lyricism, showmanshio and tashion. opening the doors for the cultura context o other emcees like The Notorious B.I.G. and Jav-Z A true legacy artist, he made history as the first rapper to ever hold two sold-out, all-female attended shows in the world-tamous Apollo Theater, filling the show to its rafters. In 1987. Kane started his musica career as an artist sianing to Cold Chillin' Records and becoming a member of its Juice Crew After releasing his hit debut single "Raw." he took the main stage in rap music becominq one of the most sought-after and respected emcees of his generation. The dexterity of his flow and his constant instance as an artist to push revolutionary boundaries in the genre have cemented him as a legend - for almost tour decades As a member of the Juice Crew. Kane helped pen hit records for various members and shape the sound that would make them the most powertul rap collective of its time. Their hit song "The Symphony, produced by Marley Marl and also included Craig G, Master Ace, and Kool G Rap, is the quintessential posse cut - detininq a trend group emceeing Both of his first two albums. Long Live The Kane and It's A Big Daddy Thina, were certified aold b RIAA. sellina over 500.000 units in a time before CDs, streams, social media, and extremelv limited radio blav His debut offering gave fans the classic jams, "Ain't No Half Steppin," "Set It Off." "Just Rhymin' with Biz." and the aforementioned "Raw." His second ful-lenath proiect, which debunked the proverbia sophomore curse, produced tracks such as "Smooth Operator." "Warm It Uo." and the Teddy Rilev-produced classic "I Get The Job Done " "Smooth Operator" hit Billboard's Rap #1, a feat that would put him on the radar of pop music superstar Madonna (who featured the sey sumbol in her "Sey" book Kane's third album Taste Of Chocolate featured songs like "Hard Being The Kane" and "All Of Me. " a duet with the late areat Barry White first demonstrated the rapper's affection for soul music and was the precursor of his career for his melding of live instrumentation with his teverous ran style Additional albums were 1991's Prince Of Darkness, 1993's Like A Job For..., 1994's Daddy's Home, and 1998's Veteran'z Day. The chart-topper has been featured on the soundtracks of for films like Lean On Me ("Lean On Me"); Juice ("Nuff Respect"); Mo Money ("A Job Ain't Nothin' But Work"); and Colors ("Raw"). A rappers' rapper. Kane has been invited to collaborate with fellow prominent acts like Public Fremv and Ice Cube on the single "Burn. Hollvwood Burn." with Heaw D on the single "Don't Curse", with UGK on "Next Up", and Busta Rhymes on the remix of "Don't Touch Me." Musical icons like Patti LaBelle have tapped him to rap on her certified gold single "Feels Like Another One" and producer Ouincy lones plucked him to star on the multiplatinum masteroieces Tribute To Birdland and Back On The Block, where he was featured on the title track His distinctive baritone voice has been heard as the narrator o+ the critically acclaimed documentary film Notorious and TV One's Being An abridaed listing of Kane's big screen credits includes the films Posse, Meteor Man. Dead Heist. Brown Sugar, Gunmen. Exposed co-starring Keanu Reeves, and Movie Madness co-starring orenzo lamas The Bed-Stuy hometown hero currently has made appearances on Law & Order SVU, a short film entitled Stomach People, and a 2021 TV One release, Bad Dad Rehab 2. His career has vielded him a GRAMMY Award, a VH1 Hio-Hop Honors Award, and countless Lifetime Achievement Awards and has been inducted into the Long Island Hall of hame, the Brooklyn Walk of Fame, the Key to Brooklyn, and also inducted into the North Carolina Hall o Fame, after making the southern state his home. One of the crown jewels in his artistry crown is his battle against his life-ong friend. KRS-1 on the Verzuz stage. A battle of two Ivrical miracles, after being considered two of the best emcees to ever gran a mic their contest made history as the first ot its kind to may out the Barclay Center, the arena smack in the middle of where it all started.
ACTOR / COMEDIAN
Tommy Davidson’s exceptional range – from stand-up comedy and acting to versatile music accomplishments – have earned him a reputation as an extraordinary performer. Best known as one of the stars of the hit television show In Living Color, his visibility has allowed him to become a household name known for his innovative talent. Davidson started his career as a standup comedian in Washington DC, earning an ardent following. Spotted by major concert promoters, he was first booked as the opening act for Patti LaBelle, Kenny G and Luther Vandross. It wasn’t long before he came to Hollywood and was headlining the biggest rooms. He has down dozens of movies, toured with the biggest names and is Oscar Proud and on The Proud Family (2001-2005) & it's 2022 revival.
LIZ HOLMES BAXTER
DEI Business Partner, Head of Partnerships and Programs
As a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Business Partner at Credit Karma, I am passionate about creating equitable and inclusive environments for all employees, especially those from historically excluded groups. I lead and execute various DEl initiatives, such as employee resource groups, mentorship programs, cultural events, and learning opportunities, that foster a sense of belonging, engagement, and empowerment across the organization. With a background in project management, recruiting, and talent acquisition, I have developed strong skills in relationship building, communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. I hold a PMP® certification, Prosci certification, and a bachelor's degree, which have helped me to design and deliver creative and impactful DEl solutions. My goal is to drive DEl as a strategic priority and be a catalyst for change and transformation at Credit Karma and beyond.
VP of Belonging, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
My leadership purpose is to bring change at scale for making systems and processes better through strategic prioritization and responsible ownership. By creating and refining inclusive human capital strategies for organizations, I help them build balanced hiring and equity-centered talent management strategies that drive people-centric culture, systems, and products globally. My leadership philosophy is to focus on individual enablement within a culture of trust, curiosity and collaboration to create strategic and iterative opportunities, products and services The values that drive and impress me are integrity and curiosity at the individual level and agility and accountability at the team level. I am skilled at anything people related - counseling, recruiting, developing, motivating, training, and supporting them in achieving their goals and inspirations. I approach D&l as a center of excellence and less of a function. By developing partnerships I have created collaboration networks that help teams and organizations realize their goals.
Vice President, Global Business Operations, Cisco Networking, Cisco
I love high-performing teams, focused on the right things, that constantly drive value and change in the marketplace. When people feel a part of something bigger than themselves, we can achieve extraordinary things together. I am a builder at heart - the harder the problem the better. I'm proud of the journey we've been on at Meraki, enabling the growth from 300 employees to over 2,700, serving 75% of Fortune 500 companies, and 700,000 customers in 190 countries. Through the strength of the Meraki platform, we deliver the most intuitive, secure, and intelligent IT experiences for our customers. We have also built a team where folks care deeply for our customers and each other. And we've only just gotten started. As VP of Operations, I lead teams that manage how Merakians connect (employee experience, IT, business systems, program management, and facilities) and how Meraki connects with our customers (strategy, business, and manufacturing operations). Through these teams, we ensure two things: that our employees are cared for with a focus on creating an equal, diverse, and collaborative workplace; and that Meraki delivers the right outcomes for our customers by managing workflows, supply chain, and strategy. Whether meeting the needs of our colleagues or customers, our operations team enables how people work and connect around the world. In addition, I am the proud executive sponsor of the San Francisco chapter of Cisco's Connected Black Professionals (CBP), an employee resource organization (ERO). Genius knows no zip code. I am committed to building more inclusive and equitable teams that unlock the potential for all.
Paradise Gray Pete Nice
Curators of the Hip-Hop Museum
Vice President of Business Operations & Technical Program Management @ Intuit
Tony is vice president of business operations for Intuit’s Consumer Group, the organization that delivers TurboTax. TurboTax is the nation’s leading tax preparation software, providing do-it-yourself (DIY), assisted, and full service tax preparation to millions of individuals, families, and small businesses. He joined Intuit in 2018 to lead portfolio management and program delivery. In his current role, Tony leads Intuit’s Consumer Group Program Office, responsible for a variety of disciplines including business operations, project management, program management, and portfolio management. He is responsible for orchestrating strategic planning and execution of initiatives and operations both within the consumer business and across Intuit’s technology ecosystem, propelling transformative change for customers. Tony also served as a Major in the United States Air Force. As a Space and Missile officer, he honed insights from diverse operational, training, and staff roles. Rooted in a passion for enhancing human lives through technology and teaching, his strengths are customer-centric problem-solving and seamless cross-functional collaboration, consistently aligning outcomes with strategic objectives.
Director, Media & Entertainment Marketing @ Autodesk
Leona Frank is a passionate storyteller and experienced marketing enthusiast who has worked with global brands and across industries to build impactful marketing and content strategies. She leads Autodesk’s Media & Entertainment marketing team and focuses on connecting with Media & Entertainement audiences, communicating the brand’s vision, and highlighting the Autodesk solution portfolio across the customer lifecycle. Leona holds post-graduate degrees from the UK and Canada specializing in International and Intercultural Communication. Leona is a board member for Autodesk’s Black Network where she is working to build a community for Autodesk Black employees and their allies.
ALBERTO ZÁRATE MONTOYA
Leader, Talent Acquisition @ Cisco
Alberto was born and raised in Costa Rica, he grew up in front of the beach in a small town on the pacific coast. He joined Cisco in 2019 as the first hire for a new recruiting team in Costa Rica, he later moved to a Project Manager role where he led global hiring initiatives for multiple business units. Currently he’s a Global Leader for Recruiting DEI Strategy and Business Enablement. He holds a Masters in Organizational Psychology and technical education in Agile Methodologies. In his spare time, he enjoys teaching, dancing, and spending time with his wife and dogs.
DJ D Sharp
World Renouned DJ
DJ D Sharp is the official DJ of the Golden State Warriors. He’s a go to DJ for fortune 500 companies and has DJ’ed the hottest venues in the world.
Ryan Davis is a comedian and actor who’s been featured in popular shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Insecure as well as shows on BET+ and Comedy Central. His internet show generated more than 100 million views in 2016 alone. His versatile comedy style has attracted a diverse audience that spans across continents. Although Ryan has seen an enormous amount of success on the Internet, he prides himself on his ability to deliver in his live stand up shows. With sold out shows across the US, Ryan is proving to be one of comedy's new rising stars.
Vice President, Experience Design
Jennie is an accomplished design leader with a passion for creating transformational experiences that people love. With over 15 years in the industry, she currently serves as the Vice President of Experience Design at Zillow where she’s revolutionizing the way people find their next home. Prior to joining Zillow, Jennie spent six years at Airbnb as a Director of Design, leading teams across the guest and host experience to tackle some of the company's most critical challenges. Before Airbnb, she led the San Francisco Product Design team at Huge, where she launched products for clients such as Apple, Google, Nike, and HBO, as well as creating the now ubiquitous payment platform, Zelle.
SVP of On-Field Operations at MLB
Entering his 31st season in professional baseball, Michael Hill begins his 3rd year as Major League Baseball’s Senior Vice President of On-Field Operations. In his current role, he oversees Umpiring, Replay Operations, and all on-field matters, including discipline. He also is the Baseball Operations liaison for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Prior to joining MLB, Hill spent 18 seasons working for the Florida/Miami Marlins, initially serving as Assistant General Manager (2002-2006), General Manager (2007-2012), before ultimately rising to serve as the club’s President of Baseball Operations (2013-2020). Hill began his professional front office career with the Tampa (Devil) Rays (1995-1999), performing various baseball operation roles, and also worked for the Colorado Rockies (2000-2002) as Director of Player Development. A graduate of Harvard University, Hill was elected Senior Class Marshal (President) while starring as the football team’s leading rusher and the baseball team’s captain. Upon graduation from Harvard, Hill was drafted into professional baseball by the Texas Rangers in 1993. Hill played 2 seasons with Texas, and 1 season with the Cincinnati Reds before a shoulder injury ended his playing career. A native Cincinnati, Ohio, Hill was born to a Cuban mother and African American father. He is 1 of 5 African Americans and 1 of 3 with Hispanic lineage to ever to hold the position of MLB General Manager. In his career, Hill has signed or drafted: 3 Rookies of the Year, 3 MVP’s, 1 CY Young, countless All-Stars, in addition to winning the 2003 World Series. A proud father of 3 young men, Hill has completed 15 marathons, participating in the World Marathon Challenge in 2018, in which he ran 7 marathons, on 7 continents, in 7 days to honor his father who had passed away of pancreatic cancer.
Vice President, Head of Global Talent Acquisition
As the vice president of global talent acquisition and head of Credit Karma’s Charlotte office, Ashleigh Anderson oversees recruiting across all geographies, including Charlotte, Oakland, Los Angeles, and London. Since joining Credit Karma in 2018, Ashleigh has worked to establish Charlotte as Credit Karma’s East Coast headquarters, scaling the office from 50 employees to almost 700, with the majority of new employees hired since the start of 2021. In her role, Ashleigh has also helped retool Credit Karma’s recruiting process to include structured interviewing. Since doing so, Credit Karma has doubled the number of historically excluded employees, and, within the last 18 months, 25% of Charlotte new hires identify as Black/African-American. During the pandemic, Ashleigh played a critical role in maintaining jobs by strategically reassigning employees to roles that were in higher demand, resulting in no layoffs. Ashleigh brings more than two decades of experience in talent acquisition to Credit Karma. She was recently named to the Charlotte Business Journal’s Power 100 list and to the Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina by Women We Admire. Ashleigh began her career at Microsoft and later joined Zynga, where she built the research recruiting team that was responsible for attracting and hiring 40% of all US-based engineers and product managers during the company's growth to 4,000 employees around the world. Prior to joining Credit Karma, Ashleigh was also head of talent at Shiver Entertainment and The Climate Corporation. Ashleigh is a proud alumnus of Clemson University. She currently lives in Charlotte with her two children.
World Champion Baseball Player
A native of Fort Pierce who played at the University of Miami, Charles Johnson was the first-ever selection by the Marlins in the amateur draft. He won four consecutive Rawlings Gold Gloves for National League Catcher, beginning in 1995, marking the first Gold Glove award in Marlins' history. He was a member of Miami's 1997 World Series championship team, batting .357 in the Fall Classic with a team-high 10 hits in the series. He established a Major League record by playing 123 consecutive games without an error behind the plate. He caught the first no-hitter in Marlins history, by Al Leiter on May 11, 1996, and Livan Hernandez's 15-strikeout performance in game 5 of the 1997 NLCS vs. Atlanta.
Reyna Noriega is an Afro-Caribbean and Latin Visual Artist and Author, from Miami, FL. Having seen the power of introspection, self reflection and healing, Reyna’s work centers that aspect of our journeys as we seek to rise and be our best, most authentic selves so that people may experience sustainable peace and happiness.
DJ Major League
Live Dj | Resident Dj
DJ Major League is a Nigerian-American Disc Jockey based in Los Angeles, CA. He is a seasoned 18-year veteran DJ/performer that pioneers his own style/sound dubbed "D.A.S.H", which is abbreviated for Dancehall, Afrobeat, Soca, and Hip-hop. Major League derives a lot of inspiration from dancing. He is the original creator of the "cat daddy" dance and served as the inspiration for the Rej3ctz worldwide hit single "Cat Daddy" in 2010. Major League feels that music is the most therapeutic medicine worldwide.
Our voices indicate how we feel. Joy, sadness, trepidation, and truth filter through the tone and timbre. For as pensive and reserved as Ogi may be in everyday life, the Los Angeles-based Nigerian American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist speaks her mind when she sings. After captivating audiences on social media and earning the endorsement and support of iconic GRAMMY® Award-winning producer No I.D. [JAY-Z, John Mayer, Kanye West], she expresses who she is through every note on a series of singles and her 2022 debut. “My singing voice is a means through which I can express myself more clearly than my speaking voice,” she admits. “When I sing, I don’t hesitate. The feelings just come out, and I’m a lot more authentic. If I’m singing live, I improvise, slide things in, and make the song my own. It’s a means to the real me. I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to calculate whether or not someone is going to like it. They’re here to listen to me, so I’ll give them what they want to hear.” Born just outside of Chicago, she grew up in Wisconsin. Both of her parents originally hailed from Nigeria. Dad worked as a professor, while mom ran her own business in the healthcare industry. Ogi remembers her first introduction to music being through hymns that her grandmother would sing to her every morning as a child. Her mother’s prayer group, which also regularly incorporated hymns, served as her first introduction to the art of harmony. “That was the first time I ever thought about the concept of harmony.” she recalls. “It was very important, and I followed it throughout my interactions with music.” Ogi played viola and joined jazz choir in high school and listened to everyone from J. Moss, Mary Mary, and Bebe & CeCe Winans to Marvin Gaye, Nina Simone, and T-Pain. Meanwhile, mom and dad played Culture, Bob Marley, and Nigerian highlife music. Recognizing her sense of perfect pitch, she experimented with piano and guitar. During college at Northwestern University, she performed in an acapella group and composed demos in GarageBand. Just prior to senior year, she began to post covers on Instagram, starting with a ukulele and vocal cover of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends (Sunny).” Her take on PJ Morton’s “Alright” caught fire when PJ posted it on his page. She finished her final year at school and moved to L.A. “I planned on going to law school,” she says. “I had a very clear and concrete plan, and then on a whim, I went to L.A. to follow my dreams. It took a minute, but I think I’m finally starting to settle into this new life.” Working in the studio with No I.D., she cultivated a soulful style of her own equally informed by that lifelong connection to harmony, eclectic resonances, and expressive intonation. She ultimately taps into a spirit agnostic of era, yet connected to any age. “This music represents me coming into myself and not being afraid of saying things I wish I said to other people,” she goes on. “It’s as if I’m speaking directly to someone who’s in my head—like subtweets to other people.” In the end, you feel Ogi’s message through her voice. “When you hear me, I want you to know your feelings are valid,” she leaves off. “Even if you think you shouldn’t say them, it’s okay, because there’s someone with the exact same feelings.