Randy Armstrong has appeared on more than 40 albums and film scores, played at Carnegie Recital Hall and festivals at Lincoln Center as well as sharing the stage with such music greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Fatoumata Diawara, the Paul Winter Consort, King Sunny Ade, Eddie Palmieri, Babatunde Olatunji, Michael Hedges, Richie Havens and others..
"I arrived on the emerging Seacoast Arts & Music scene in the mid-70’s at the beginning of the Portsmouth and surrounding area Renaissance. At that time Prescott Park, The Music Hall and the old Theater by the Sea (now Seacoast Rep) were working hard to keep the doors open. We almost lost The Music Hall in the mid-80’s, but through the efforts of many artists, art lovers and generous community members it was saved from being closed and considered for a condo site. My national and international touring group at the time, Do’a World Music Ensemble and Unu Mondo made the seacoast our home performing at Prescott Park, The Music Hall, First Night, Seacoast Rep, and South Church concerts through the years. Many people may not know this history, especially the younger generation and newcomers in the past 25 years.
The seacoast has a vibrant music and arts scene built on the many years of work from the artists and musicians who help make this community so attractive. I am concerned at changes that make it difficult for these “local & regional” artists and musicians to be showcased in our many performing arts venues. I served for nine years as an Arts Councilor appointed by two NH Governors to help disperse public funds to many non-profit arts and educational organizations. As one of the only professional musicians serving on the NHSCA, I have always felt that organizations receiving public funding through operating and project grants should support not only the infrastructure and staff of the organization, but also nurture emerging artists in their respective communities through bookings and presentations. It is important for presenters to support the next generation through these bookings and presentations as well as the many talented artists that call the seacoast their home. Many non-profit theater, music, dance, visual arts venues in the seacoast do substantial community outreach, but there needs to more opportunities for our artists to perform and present in “our" community. I applaud Arts Industry Alliance for taking on this difficult task."
Jose R. Duque is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and prides himself on always being one of the most innovative and versatile musicians wherever he sets up residence. Now living in Miami, this Venezuelan musician has positioned himself as the go to guy in a variety of styles, such as Jazz, R&B, Latin, Rock, World Music and Musical Theater. Jose has contributed to dozens or original releases and is also a member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (the GRAMMY’s).
"I think for such a confined and at times isolated area, there is an incredible amount of talent in almost every discipline in the greater Seacoast region. Some of the musicians I played with were outstanding. It's well known, however, that some established institutions do not support, even though they sometimes claim to, local artists the way they could. I left the area 3 years ago in search of a better climate and better environment to be a working musician. I do miss downtown Portsmouth and a few emblematic places, but I don't miss the “crabs in a bucket” atmosphere that defines the scene. There is a "chip on the shoulder" attitude and once one of the struggling artists is granted some opportunity from an established organization, his or her attitude often changes and they no longer look out for the broader artist community. I recorded amazing albums in the seacoast but never fully supported myself as a musician. Having moved to a more vibrant and diverse community in the Miami area, I’ve had the chance to attain a lifestyle where I can make a living performing, teaching, composing music for theater and producing small indy projects. I am an advisory member of AIA as a result of my time spent on the Seacoast, and my experiences both positive and negative as a working musician. I applaud Scott Ruffner for bringing this conversation and movement to the forefront, and confronting the reality of our industry while retaining a good grasp on how to uplift and generate something sustainable for working artists."
Ingrid Chavez, a recording artist, songwriter, and actress who has had international success releasing albums and starring in movies with Prince, as well as co-writing Madonna’s number one hit “Justify My Love” with Lenny Kravitz, has called New Hampshire home for the past 15 years.
“I have a new independent project called Black Eskimo that was recorded in New Hampshire, so we had a desire to be part of the music community here and actively promote the album. It’s been very difficult. Our biggest frustration was with the lack of diversity in the local music scene making it difficult for us to gain access to venues that prefer mostly folk acts or cover artists. We Have a down tempo/electro soul style. We found it easier to book shows in New York City, Boston, and even Europe than in our home state. When getting shows in other cities has a lot to do with numbers and fan count, not having a way to build a local following in your own community effects your ability to branch out into other cities. I look forward to working with Arts Industry Alliance to help improve our local and regional music and art scenes so that they are more welcoming to home grown talent."