Unplugged Sessions at Fiona’s Theatre

Rashad Leamount and Chase Fernander curate the first of many soul sessions to be held at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

By Kevanté Cash

NAGB Correspondent

Bodies sway, hands raised and heads bop from left to right; feet resist the urge to get up and shake, while mouths formulate to ad lib the words to songs hearts may know. There is magic in the air at Fiona’s Theatre, where an eclectic group of musical artists are performing. They are setting the mood for what to make of the rest of the year with events held here, as this appears to be the start of something new.

“Unplugged” a part of A Season at Fiona’s, curated by Rashad Leamount and Chase Fernander, marries the two art worlds, inviting one into its backyard.

Rashad Leamount gets in the groove on stage at Unplugged sessions, A Season at Fiona’s. Photo credit: Celeste Romer of Celeste R Photography.

“Chase and I were approached by the NAGB. They have had events at Fiona’s Theatre before, but they were interested in formalising programming specific to the amphitheatre,” Leamount says. “Hosting and performing in this show was important to me because I’m a huge advocate of collaborating across disciplines. Often times we’re operating in our small communities as rappers, singers, painters and photographers. We’re well known and respected in our niche, but sometimes that doesn’t extend to other creatives much less the greater public. So, I saw this as an opportunity to expand the context and influence of the creative community with the backing of a recognised body like the NAGB.”

This was not a difficult process at all in choosing the talent that suited the vibration of the event, Fernander expresses.
“Based on the type of event the NAGB described to us, and this being the introduction, we were able to narrow down the acts almost immediately. We chose artists that, in our opinion, are exceptional at their chosen genre of music and we were very meticulous in selecting people that represent as many different genres of music as possible,” she adds.

The artists for the evening included: Judah Tha Lion, Kenique Maria, Foreign Sound, Nevandria Lyriic, Tanisha Sweeting, Leo, Foots, AbiYah, Sherwood Rahming and of course, show curators: Chase Fernander and Rashad Leamount.

Chase Fernander setting the mood with original music at Unplugged sessions, A Season at Fiona’s. Photo credit: Celeste Romer of Celeste R Photography.

Since they’ve worked with each other before on other projects, coming together once more to coordinate a production of this nature, was less of a challenge for the duo.

“It’s always effortless. Rashad and I understand each other very well and we share a lot of the same thoughts and ideals of the entertainment industry in The Bahamas, so an opportunity like this I would think, was somewhat inevitable. We also trust and respect each other and understand how extremely important it is to support and encourage the other. We’re already a great support system to and for ourselves, so we try as much as possible to be that for others,” Fernander maintains.

Many artists performed some of their original music and there were even some like Judah Tha Lion, Leo and Rashad Leamount who performed new music live for the very first time.

Leamount says of his experience: “Everything is coming full circle for me. I worked with the NAGB in December for “The Fruit and The Seed” the Ninth National Exhibition (NE9) along with photographer Allan Jones, and our work there really helped me to further define myself as an artist – a Black queer millennial creator. So, to then perform in the same house that inspired my words and work was confirmation of my path.”

Of the turnout and success of the show, both say they’re “still on a high” from its accomplishments and are overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to showcase themselves and other musical artists whose following may not have even reached the guise of a different audience, different types of Bahamians, had the NAGB not offered its backyard to play in.

They hope people got the opportunity to see the various types of Bahamian music that is not solely limited to the sounds of Rake ‘N’ Scrape, but that Bahamian music comes from the belly of those who claim to be Bahamian and wears its label proudly.