An ongoing series on the creators, facilitators and monetizers who are making the Triad art s scene the best it can b e
Aubrey Shamel One might legitimately ask why a 17-year-old would be included in a limited list of creative types, given the number of deserving members in the Triad. And answer, equally legitimately, would be: Have you heard her?
It might appear that Aubrey Shamel suddenly burst out of nowhere. But, even at her tender age, the Lewisville resident has been honing her craft as long as she can remember, first with violin lessons, then piano and, by age 10, guitar.
“My grandparents got me this shiny new electric guitar, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to play that!’ I got a Guitar For Dummies book and learned a few chords and soon realized I needed to take lessons. And it’s continued since then.”
Not long after that she also started writing songs. Today she is a quadruple threat as a singer-songwriter-guitarist-pianist. And she does them all with the proficiency of one twice her age. In fact, she was voted Best Keyboardist in this year’s YES! Weekly readers’ poll.
Aubrey performs as a solo act as well as with a couple of ensembles. He has become a regular at the Creative Center’s monthly original music series, where she caught the ear of accomplished singer-songwriter Mike Garrigan, late of Athenaeum, who is helping her gear up for what seems an inevitable recording contract.
Home-schooled, Aubrey is considering enrolling at Belmont, an audio-engineering college in Nashville.
She has a catalogue of perhaps 30 original songs that she considers polished enough to record, and has demoed perhaps half of them, but no CD yet. But, virtually all agree, it is just a matter of time. And at 17, she has plenty of that.
Richard Emmett When Richard Emmett and his wife Kim Lawson recently sold their long-running Winston-Salem music venue, the Garage, one of the buyers, Tucker Tharpe, was quoted in the Winston-Salem Journal as saying, “I look at Richard and I see a pioneer and a legend, and that goes for Kim, his wife, as well.”
That is a view that is held by virtually anyone who has followed the emergence of the downtown Winston-Salem music scene since the turn of the century. Far from being solely a club owner, it was Emmett who was largely responsible for not only organizing the three weekly after-work street concerts but securing the blessings and funding from the city. They have been so successful that, in a strange ironic twist, have actually been cut back a bit because, says Emmett, “There’s so much other stuff going on downtown that we don’t want to take away business from the bars and restaurants and nightclubs. Plus we’ve added an art house and movie theatre and have a really vibrant arts district on Trade Street. It’s really exploded down here.”
Four-and-a-half years ago Emmett was named the Chief Operating Officer of the Winston-Salem Arts Council, expanding his influence from the music scene to the city’s entire arts and creative community. Not surprisingly, he is a huge advocate for the arts as an economic driver and, with the release in June of a five-year study by the NC Arts Council on the total economic impact of the arts, has the numbers to back him up.
Not one to shy away from ruffling feathers, Emmett chided the Forsyth County commissioners for cutting their funding by $18,500. “Our challenge is to connect the dots, to convince them that we’re not one plant that has 2,000 jobs but 100 different plants that add up to that. Folks have a hard time seeing us as an economic entity.”
Julie Wilson If the phrase “being given lemons and making lemonade” ever needed a poster girl, Julie Wilson would no doubt get the job. Actually she already is a poster girl, but that’s another story. Julie’s story began with a life-threatening battle with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory gastrointestinal disorder, and ended with her and a partner inventing a dietary supplement called Hot Rawks that has gone national and is threatening to make her a bona fide celebrity.
“I became an authority on Chinese herbs and natural cures and anything that could possibly help me,” she said. “All I did day and night was research the effects of different raw foods and natural ingredients and the effects of processed foods and pesticides on what we put into our bodies. They called me the ‘herb nerd.’” But they also called her a marketing genius and, after hitting upon a cure that she claims saved her life, may soon, if not already, call her a self-made millionaire. She credits a book by David Wolfe titled The Sun Food Diet Success System for the turnaround, but the credit for the success of her product belongs solely to her. In her serendipitous journey toward finding a cure for Crohn’s, after years of trail and error, she found that she had also created an aphrodisiac.
“It was like an out-of-body experience when I realized we’d hit on the formula for an all-natural herbal aphrodisiac,” she smiled.
A Greensboro resident since 1995, the West Virginia native now spends most of her time on the road publicizing her organic, energy-producing, libido-enhancing product. She guests regularly on Playboy Radio and may have a deal as a syndicated co-host on Sirius Radio soon.
But her product is hardly geared solely to the adults-only market. Hot Rawks is considered a mainstream product that is increasingly being found on health food and natural food stores’ shelves.