Supports extraordinary Rhode Island artists as they adapt their creative enterprises and inspire our community

FirstWorks brings world-class artists to Rhode Island’s stages while helping our local artists reach the world—providing a platform and support for their work. With funding from Rhode Island Commerce, we provided a cohort of local creatives with coaching and tools to help them succeed in these challenging times. This month we will be introducing our 10 participating artists to you through spotlight videos produced through our partnership with Steer PVD and KVG Communications. Follow this page for a new video each day, February 2-12, 2021.

Learn more about our participating artists

A Black woman wearing a red dress and feathered red hat singing with her eyes closed into a microphoneROSE WEAVER

Rose Weaver, Brown MFA 2000, SAG/AFTRA/AEA actress/singer/writer, believes that Art saves lives. A professional actress, singer, and teacher for forty-seven years in regional theatre, Off-Broadway, television and film, Rose was a Boston New England Emmy nominee, and a New England SAG Board member for two terms. She is the author and actress of the one woman play, Menopause Mama, the new play, Black Women Taking Off the Masks; is published in Monologues for Women by Women (Heinemann), and NuMuse: An Anthology of Plays from Brown Universitywww.roseweaver.com

Photo credit: James Lastowski

Man wearing a hat and a goatee holding an enormous boom box with his name Chachi written on itCHACHI CARVALHO

Chachi Carvalho is a multi-talented artist, educator, and front man for the International Players band. He is a native born-and-raised Rhode Islander with roots that stem from the islands of Cabo Verde. As an educator, Chachi spends his days as School Culture and Community Engagement Coordinator at Shea High School in Pawtucket and is co-owner of Beatbox Studio, also in Pawtucket. Chachi serves on the Advisory Council for AS220 Youth and he is a board member of the Pawtucket Arts Festival. chachihiphop.com

Photo courtesy the artist

A woman playing a steel pan drum outdoors on a sunny dayBECKY BASS

Local treasure Becky Bass is known for her euphoric steel pan playing, soulful voice, and powerful stage presence. A native of St. Croix, Bass utilizes her talent to highlight Caribbean music’s evolution through human necessity and resilience, and share the complex history of Caribbean music and its influence on the U.S. A 2013 graduate of Brown University in Theatre Arts & Performance Studies, Bass is two-time New England Urban Music Award winner. She has performed at the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), New York City’s Lincoln Center, Chicago’s Underground Wonder Bar, and Off-Broadway theater LaMaMa. www.beckybass.com

Photo credit: Erin X. Smithers

Sokeo RosSOKEO ROS

Sokeo was born in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand, arriving in the United States at the age of three. His award-winning solo show “From Refugee Camp to Project” tells of this experience and of coming to the United States to live in an impoverished neighborhood. He has performed with hip-hop group Carriage House Performers, Everett, and in 2004 he founded the dance-based company Case Closed! Sokeo recently completed his graduate degree at Providence College in the Masters of Education Program in Urban Teaching and is the Program/Operations Manager at The Center at Moore in Providence College as well as an adjunct professor there and at College Unbound. everettri.org

Photo credit: James Lastowski

32750-ConsueloBio-364x364CONSUELO SHERBA

Consuelo Sherba, violist, is a founding member and artistic director of the performance ensemble Aurea, dedicated to exploring the connection between music and the spoken word. With Aurea since 2004, she has performed at the Chicago Humanities Festival, the New York University Humanities Festival, FirstWorks, the Pawtucket Arts Festival, and around New England. She is a 2015 honoree of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities for her creative vision and multidisciplinary, humanities-driven programming with Aurea; was chosen as Person of the Year by the Pawtucket Foundation in 2007, and in 2008, was awarded the prestigious Rhode Island Pell Award.

She has been on the applied music faculty at Brown University since 1986, teaches at the RI Philharmonic Music School, and performs with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra, The Vermont Symphony and Buzzard’s Bay Music Festival. aureaensemble.org

Photo credit: Peter Goldberg Photography

PVDFest17-Christopher-Johnson-box-homeCHRISTOPHER JOHNSON

Spoken word artist Christopher Johnson is the recipient of the 2018 Rhode Island State Council of the Arts Fellowship for Playwriting. He is also a finalist for the 2018 for the McColl Johnson Fellowship and an award-winning Slam Poet. As a highly sought out speaker and performer he has collaborated with many Rhode Island organizations including AS220, Brown University, Everett, FirstWorks, The GAMM, PVDFest, Trinity Rep, Wilbury Theatre Group, and others.

Timely, relevant, honest, unapologetic, personal, and political, his spoken word commands in a way that is uncomfortable and arresting. Educated in performance art through experience and mentorship, it has been said that his pieces touch the heart with feathers and barbed wire alike, speaking uncomfortable truths, invoking the best and worst of human emotions.

Using words like a dancer uses movement or a painter uses color, his delivery is nuanced. Able to evoke deep-seated dormant emotions through writings and performance, Johnson’s emotional expression through his art transcends race, gender, and other divisions. His impassioned words reach into the collective soul of all of us, touching and expressing our own pain, fear, and love, as well as his own. thencredibull.com/

Photo courtesy of the artist

EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks playing the violin on the beachEMMALEE HOLMES-HICKS

Violinist and educator EmmaLee Holmes-Hicks is a firm believer that music can move people, quite literally. To this end she plays a broad variety of musical styles, from classical to contemporary music, from traditional fiddle tunes to improv. Her craft has sent her around the world, from the Pacific Music Festival in Japan to the Orchestra of the Americas in Europe, South America and Canada, to Carnegie Hall. A two-year fellowship with Providence’s Community MusicWorks as a musician and teaching artist inspired her to found the Newport String Project, a mentoring and performing program with Ealain McMullin, where she served as co-director for six years. She is currently a faculty member at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and the Birch Creek Summer Performance Center and performs with the New Bedford Symphony Orchestra, the Cape Symphony, the Southcoast Chamber Music Series and the new music collective, Verdant Vibes. www.emmaleeholmeshicks.com
Photo courtesy the artist

KIM TRUSTYKIM TRUSTY

Against a backdrop of the world in crisis, Kim asks us to stop and listen. Above the noise, she reminds us that peace and hope are possible when we dream together. On her journey, she has faced racial and gender prejudice, cancer, sexual abuse, strokes, poverty and homelessness. And yet she carries on, rising from each fall a little bit stronger to bring us music that inspires and heals.

Kim is beloved for her work in our community, teaching elementary school music to under-represented children. She helped to start Providence’s first school for the Arts, longtime FirstWorks education partner TAPA – Trinity Academy for the Performing Arts back in 2010. Her accolades and awards include YWCA’s “Women of Achievement” award for outstanding arts education, and the “Voice for the Voiceless” award from the fund for community service. www.reverbnation.com/kimtrusty

Photo credit: Erin X. Smithers

Michelle KaminskyMICHELLE KAMINSKY

Musician and educator Michelle Kaminsky plays and teaches the fiddle, leading workshops in Cajun, Zydeco and Barn dance, as well as the xylophone. Her fluency in traditional American dance styles, which includes New England, Appalachian, French-Canadian, Cajun and Zydeco has made her a staple at festivals around the Northeast with New England’s hometown Cajun band, Magnolia, and the Contra dance band French Roast. She is also fiddler-in-residence at the Rhode Island Fiddle Project. mkfiddle99@gmail.com

Photo credit: Steer PVD

A Black man playing a djembe on a large outdoor concert stageSIDY MAIGA

A pillar of Rhode Island’s local music community, master Malian drummer Sidy Maiga has traveled the world sharing the insatiable rhythms of the djembe with enthusiastic audiences. Maiga combines the best of West African percussion traditions with modern beats, infusing traditional African styles with rhythms of the Caribbean, hip-hop, Latin tunes, Brazilian styles, and the Blues. A staple of outdoor festivals across Rhode Island, Maiga’s drumming brings audiences to their feet and closer with their neighbors; as Maiga says, “music is the bridge that brings people together.” sidymaiga.com

Photo credit: James Lastowski

The FirstWorks UPLIFT project is made possible with support from Rhode Island Commerce.
Special thanks to SteerPVD and the Providence Public Library.
Rhode Island CommerceSteer PVD