Tag Archives: omaha girls rock

Drums Speak Volumes

September 26, 2019 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Surrounded by the sounds of afternoon jazz, Eden Corbitt leans back against a park bench and offers some wisdom.

“Your music really can take you as far as you want to go,” she says. “If you’re persistent, it will come.”

These words come from experience. Corbitt started playing music at age 10. As a child, she was constantly making rhythms and beating pencils against her desk. (“Every drummer knows the sound of their favorite pencil,” she later says.)

A dare from her mom spurred her to jump on the drum set during a church service—and that’s where it all began.

With both parents being ministers, Corbitt listened to a lot of gospel music growing up. In junior high, she expanded to alternative rock, and eventually, rhythm and blues, and hip-hop. She has played in as many as six bands at one time, but now she focuses on R&B.

As the first media chairperson for the Omaha NAACP, under the leadership of President Vickie Young, Corbitt acts as a bridge between the organization and the public. She aims to present a different narrative of what black culture looks like in the city.

Omaha NAACP hosts their monthly meetings in Love’s Jazz and Art Center at 2510 N. 24th St. The building was named for jazz saxophonist and bandleader Preston Love Sr., who was born in Omaha in 1921.

“Black culture, especially music, is not well represented here [in Omaha],” Corbitt says. She implores the public to visit Love’s Jazz & Art Center. “If you want to know about history and culture, especially in the black community, visit 24th and Lake streets.”

When asked what kinds of challenges she has faced as a femme musician—especially as a drummer—Corbitt laughs.

“Let’s open that can, shall we?” she says.

She started seeing the negativity when she decided to pursue music as a profession. Sexism and racism, subtle at first, have affected her bands. “They’ll pay more for an all-male band than for femme-led groups. We’re not going to accept anything less than what we deserve. We’ve set our own tone, and the right people started recognizing that. [It’s about] being respected as a musician and as a woman.”

Fortunately, she is able to help others demand that respect at an early age. Her involvement with Omaha Girls Rock allows her to intertwine a passion for multicultural education with her love of music. Corbitt started as a volunteer with OGR in summer 2018, and was honored as “Volunteer of the Year” at their annual fundraiser that same year. She has since become the program assistant.

“Eden brought such a dedicated, talented, and empowering spirit to OGR camp,” says Kat Ludwick, program director for Omaha Girls Rock. “[She] embodies so much of what we value in the organization.”

OGR partnered with Love’s Jazz in a program called Girls Make Noise, an educational workshop introducing OGR to the North Omaha community. “Bridges like that come naturally once you see and understand the beauty of the neighborhood,” says Corbitt.

Coming from Tulsa, Oklahoma, Corbitt appreciates the diversity and growth in Omaha music, especially for the next generation.

“My godmother used to tell me, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. Every day should be a learning experience.”

Currently, Corbitt is playing with Enjoli & Timeless and Dominique Morgan & The Experience. Enjoli & Timeless will be hosting their annual Black Friday show at Love’s this winter, which will also mark the release of a new album.

In 2020, Corbitt sees great things in store for music and the community. She hopes to establish an organization to facilitate drum lessons for young girls.

“When I don’t have a voice, my drums speak for me. Young girls deserve to have a voice. I love being able to help foster that.”


Visit naacp.org or facebook.com/enjoliandtimeless for more information.

This article was printed in the October 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Eden Corbitt

Good Grief! Christmas is Almost Here.

December 13, 2018 by

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Friday, Dec. 14: Amplify Arts, formerly known as the Omaha Creative Institute, is having a 2018 Grant Recipient Exhibition highlighting the recipients’ work and contributions to Omaha’s ever-evolving creative landscape. They will discuss the ways in which being awarded grants impacts their careers, communities, and Omaha as a whole. If you plan on attending, plan on interacting with several local artists (including the inimitable Angie Seykora, featured in Omaha Magazine earlier this year here) and feel please free to ask questions. Find out about the other artists and the work Amplify Arts is doing are here. (Featured image is an Umoja Choir Open Rehearsal, Oct. 2018)

Friday, Dec. 14: Join pianist Donovan Johnson and his band of musicians for a special evening of jazzy nostalgia as they perform the Music of Vince Guaraldi and The Peanuts. This annual event at Love’s Jazz and Arts Center celebrates one of America’s most well-known and beloved composers—the man behind the catchy music of Peanuts classic animated cartoons. Get your tickets here and take a little trip back to simpler days.

Saturday, Dec. 15: Girls Make Noise is an interactive workshop and a collaboration between Omaha Girls Rock and Love’s Jazz & Arts Center. The premiere of this union will introduce instruction in instrument exploration, sound production, and spoken word & lyrical performance. Their goal is to empower local youth through music. The workshop is free and open to 10-16-year-old girls, femmes, and gender-expansive youth. There is no registration—it’s first come, first serve, and happening at Love’s Jazz and Arts Center from 1-4 p.m. this Saturday. Find out more here.

Saturday, Dec. 15: The holiday season is the season for people who like to dress up, and the Jitterbug Jingle Ball is the perfect excuse to get fancy and do some dancing. (There are even prizes for the best-dressed attendees.) This Christmas ball features music from Miss Jubilee out of St. Louis (if you say it right, it rhymes). There will be snacks, a raffle, and gifts for sale. Not exactly a lord or lady of dance? No fear. They will offer a lesson for beginners at 7 p.m., with the official dance following at 8 p.m. Learn all about this swinging event here.

Saturday, Dec. 15: Looking for a one-stop shopping experience that will yield the perfect, unique gift for that hard-to-shop-for person in your life? (We all have one.) If you head to the Westside Community Conference Center this Saturday, you can peruse the Not Yo Mama’s Holiday Lollapalooza Craft-O-Rama Extravaganza and the Native American Craft Fair in one place. Both fairs start at 9 a.m. Find out more about the weirdness you will find at the Lollapalooza fair here, and learn more about the Native American fair here.

Check the Radar, Omaha

July 26, 2018 by

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Thursday, July 26 to Saturday, July 28: We’re a little late to this party, as it kicked off on Wednesday, the 25th. But Omaha Under the Radar has so many events happening you’ll still have plenty of time to experience the incredible talent performing at several different venues in Omaha. Some of our favorite picks are Event 7 at Bancroft Street Market and Event 9 at OutrSpaces. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Head here for the full list and to get tickets.

Thursday, July 26: Picking up trash may not be how you planned on spending this lovely Thursday evening, but imagine how satisfying it will feel to enjoy an evening by the lake while doing some good. The Bluemovement Road Trip cruises through the country cleaning up vital waterways. This joint collaboration of Keep Omaha Beautiful, Inc., United by Blue, and Neighborhood Offshore Boutique & Board Shop is bringing people together to help preserve our nation’s natural beauty. Get all the details here.

Thursday, July 26: Think you know music? Relax after all that cleaning and test your knowledge later this evening at Mercury Lounge with Rock ’N’ Roll Jeopardy. You and up to three teammates will play a traditional three rounds. Win it all, and you will get a $100 bar tab. Best of all, that otherwise inane knowledge can help you support a good cause and keep that do-good vibe going. This week’s round of Jeopardy, $1 of every purchase will go to Omaha Girls Rock. Find out more here.

Saturday, July 28: Head to Lewis & Clark Landing this Saturday for the first Nebraska Asian Festival. Presented by Awesome Egg Rolls, this production includes activities and demonstrations from several different Asian cultures, including a Tibetan monk blessing in the morning, martial arts demonstrations, and a performance by the Pacific Island Dancers. Then there’s the food, with everything from sushi to curry and of course, egg rolls, with a beer garden featuring Asian beers. Tickets are only $5 and this is an all-day festival, so there’s really no excuse if you miss it. Learn more here.

Saturday, July 28: Can’t wait for that crunchy leaves, pumpkin-centric, spooky Halloween time of the year? Satisfy that yearning by signing up for the Haunted Hummel Hike this weekend. Known for generating creepy tales, Hummel Park is somewhat legendary around Omaha as a place for freaky happenings and encounters. Get your tickets here and determine for yourself whether the park is cursed or not.
(Keep an eye out for our upcoming story on Hummel Park in Omaha Magazine’s Sept./Oct. issue.)

Saturday, July 28 to July 29: Start with pancakes, end with a run to burn them off. Benson Days is happening this Saturday, with the the Indie 5k/10k run taking place Sunday morning. The pancake feed starts at 8 a.m., with a parade to follow. There’s also a street festival and the beer garden is open for business until 11 p.m. Also, if you miss the pancakes, there will be plenty of food trucks on hand to keep you fueled. Most importantly, though, the music starts at noon and lasts all day, with performances from local favorites Matt Cox, All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, and Miwi La Lupa. Don’t drink too many brews though, or you may have a hard time staying hydrated during the run. Get the full rundown here.

Louder Together

August 17, 2017 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Lauren Martin was a small-town farm girl from McCook, Nebraska. She loved country music and never expected she would one day lead Maha—Nebraska’s pre-eminent annual music festival.

On Aug. 19, Martin oversees one of Maha’s boldest lineups ever. Headlined by the controversial hip-hop group Run The Jewels, Maha 2017 is poised to be one huge spectacle that promises to bring together a diverse group of concert-goers.

That kind of unity through music drives Martin, who got her first taste of it when she was a college student working on the campus program council at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “All of the sudden, I realized my favorite thing was to bring people together around experiences,” says Martin, who was named Maha’s first executive director in 2015.

While attending UNL, Martin helped bring such performers as singer-songwriter Jason Mraz and comedian Kathy Griffin to the university. After graduating, she wanted to continue exploring a career of booking musical talent.  Martin interned at Omaha-based Saddle Creek Records in 2007. The following summer, she found herself working at Live Nation, a global entertainment company in St. Louis. However, the Great Recession of 2008 cut her career plans short, forcing her to move back home and assess her future in the music industry.

“I came back to Omaha and felt like a dog with my tail between my legs because I failed—or because I couldn’t hack it—whatever it was” Martin says.

In 2009, Maha was born, and Martin took interest. Over the next few years, she wore many hats, including working as a house manager at Omaha Performing Arts and as programming director at Hear Nebraska. In 2012, she was given the reins to Maha’s social media accounts. She was also named to Maha’s board of directors that same year, eventually serving as vice president.

As she continued to work with Maha, Martin’s view of music changed, especially how it can affect people and bring them together. This feeling and sense of community is something she continues to incorporate into Maha.

“Now I realize music is something we all share, and it has a power to connect. It’s everything from a release, to a way to express yourself,” she says. “And while I myself am not a musician, I find that music helps me process things. It helps me connect with other people. It’s a passion in a way that music is an avenue for my fulfillment.”

Martin also worked in communications at the Omaha Community Foundation, where she helped implement Omaha Gives!, a 24-hour charity event aimed at raising money
for nonprofits.

Then, in 2015, something big happened—Maha sold out for the first time, thanks in large part to a phenomenal lineup that included Modest Mouse and Purity Ring.

“It caused everyone involved with Maha to realize that, if we want the event to continue and really be sustainable and see what even further impact we could have on the community, we needed someone full-time. That’s when I became the executive director,” Martin says.

She also emphasized that the popular festival, currently held at Stinson Park in Aksarben Village, is much more than music. The event serves as a medium for other nonprofits to receive attention.

“It’s about raising awareness,” she says, “not forcing anyone to learn about something or expose them to potential trigger topics.”

For example, this year the festival will have information about suicide, the second-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 in the U.S. Martin says the majority of Maha’s demographic falls in this age range.

“Maha is more than a music festival. It’s a platform for engagement,” she says. “We realized not only can we be a platform for other organizations, but we can help spread education.”

Martin adds that while information is available to event-goers, the staff aren’t trying to make attendees uncomfortable. “Because that isn’t the intent of anyone,” she says. “We’re not impacting the experience by throwing mental health in your face,” Martin says. “We’re not scared to talk about this. We want to be an organization that is listening to what is going on in our community.”

In addition to providing mental health information, other nonprofits team up with Maha as part of its community to culture and social activities.

This year Maha has again partnered with Louder Than a Bomb, an annual youth poetry slam with roots in Chicago that focuses on bringing teens together across all divides. The group was recently the subject of an award-winning documentary of the same name.

Another repeat partner is Omaha Girls Rock, a nonprofit that typically draws plenty of attention. The group empowers young women to voice creativity through music education and performance. In general, to “rock.”

“Maha is an event that connects and reflects the community,” Martin says. “In that kind of structure, you get to walk away saying ‘Omaha’s got some really cool stuff going on.’”

As Maha continues to grow, Martin says people are getting even more out of the music festival. To this date, the event has drawn music fans from 46 states, according to its website.

“While the music is seemingly the main event, you come to Maha and get so much more than that,” Martin says. “I thought I was getting involved with Maha for the music, but what kept me involved with Maha was all the people I’ve gotten to meet.”

Visit mahamusicfestival.com for more information.

This article appears in the July/August 2017 edition of Encounter.

 

Lauren Martin

Being Ryleigh Welsh

October 8, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Ryleigh Welsh, 15, didn’t have too many plans for the summer. She’d entered one of her songs in the Omaha Performing Arts songwriting competition. She worked on her International Baccalaureate curriculum. She returned to Omaha Girls Rock and hit up some open mic nights. She took ukulele lessons every day. All that after performing in a spring play with SNAP! Productions at Shelterbelt Theatre.

The Omaha Central sophomore has already accomplished more, artistically, than many folks twice her age. At 12, she released her first album, Being a Unicorn, and at 14 starred as Lottie Adams in the SNAP! Productions dramedy Harbor. She’s even headlined her own “Ryleigh Welsh and Friends” night at Barley Street Tavern, with her name on the marquee and everything—though she had to play first because she’s a minor.

Her life sounds like a juggling act, but she seems to handle everything with uncanny ease—particularly her music, which is catchy as hell.

“I was never really a crying, screaming child, so all I did was write songs,” she quips.

“I’ll come up with a couple lyrics, write that down, and then mostly it’s just playing chords over and over, filling in words with the chords. Eventually it comes together.”

RyleighWelsh2

When that happens, she says it takes about five minutes to finish a song, a pace that rivals that of a young Bob Dylan when he first hit Greenwich Village.

The young artist also has the best resource a beginning songwriter can have: a seasoned musician/mentor to help edit her material, who also happens to be her mother.

Molly Welsh is a staple of Omaha’s art scene. She’s acted in, and directed, several performances; played guitar and sung backup for multiple high-profile Omaha bands, including All Young Girls Are Machine Guns; and has worked for the Omaha Symphony, Omaha Performing Arts, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival, and Film Streams. Ryleigh is the beneficiary of a household suffused with creative energy.

Take, for instance, the song “Reality Avenue,” (search her name and Boombox Productions to have a listen) which Ryleigh wrote in 2011. She says she “kinda had it all jumbled because I was so young…it was like ‘What are you saying?’”

Molly knew. “I could tell what she was trying to say, but none of the words were in the right order that would make sense to a person listening to it.” So Molly helped Ryleigh clarify the song. The result is a catchy, ukulele-driven tune with such lyrical gems as “You planted a yellow seed for me / to grow a bubblegum tree, and I don’t live in a house on Reality Avenue.”

When asked if she’s internalized any mantra to keep her going, Ryleigh pauses, then rattles off the title of an obscure book from the ‘60s which she recently read: How You Live Is How You Lose Your Mind. But she doesn’t look quite satisfied with that answer. Though fun-loving, she wants to do her best at everything. So she substitutes something better.

“My mantra is: I do what I want. I’m punk rock.”

Rachel Tomlinson Dick

April 20, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Is there some state law dictating that baristas must be among the most interesting people on the planet?

When not slinging brew at Blue Line Coffee in Dundee, Rachel Tomlinson Dick can be found on stage at The Waiting Room, Slowdown, and other indie-fueled venues. She plays in the Omaha band Hers and with the Portland-based Manic Pixie Dream Girls. The 27-year-old also volunteers with Omaha Girls Rock, teaching guitar riffs accompanied by a steady backbeat of girl-power mentoring and advocacy. That’s when she’s not working as an apprentice stitcher with Artifact Bag Co., the local outfit known for the finest craftsmanship in waxed canvas and leather goods.

“I would never survive in the cubicle world,” she says. “Tried it for awhile. Time moved too slowly. I need to be more active,” she adds while simultaneously juggling beans, bran, and bagels. “Most baristas are really creative types, and half the fun of being here is the interaction with people who are motivated by their outside work in the arts, culture, and more.”

And as for the other half? That would be the people on the other side of the counter, she says. “I open the shop on many mornings, and that means I get to help people begin their day,” she says. “It’s early. They’re just starting out, not sure which way the day is going to go. Good? Maybe not so much? I get to give them something that is seemingly so small and insignificant, but coffee makes people happy!” 

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