Ina Williams is one of those people who sets her mind to something, goes after it, and inevitably gets what she’s looking for.
She was a film and video major at SCAD a couple of years ago, while at the same time serving as artistic director at the Overcoming By Faith Ministries’ school of the arts.
But Williams was also a vocalist, specializing in the cool, jazz–inflected music of artists like Lena Horne and Ella Fitzgerald.
“I started getting this itch to perform a lot more,” she says. “I had been doing my independent music when I was younger, in Atlanta, and here I was hitting a wall – the venues are very genre–specific. There were only certain areas that kind of wanted the music that I was doing at the time, which was really a fusion of jazz, soul, R&B. Those venues where I would have been, I guess, ‘useful’ to their demographic, it was a much older crowd than what I wanted.”
Rather than wait for the mountain to come to her, she created her own mountain: A collective of artists and performers she dubbed Real Music.
“Just because those were passions of mine didn’t mean I didn’t appreciate and love hip hop and folk music, and alternative music,” Williams explains. “I really wanted to create a space where all of the different artists could share.
“It’s OK for you to like other genres – just because you’re working in one doesn’t mean you have to be so isolated that you can’t enjoy, and even be influenced by, those other genres.”
Real Music celebrates its second anniversary Monday with a concert at Muse Arts Warehouse – a place that didn’t exist two years ago, but has since become Savannah’s all–inclusive home for eclectic creative collaboration.
Williams will be joined by three other performers, including Lloyd Harold, a.k.a. KidSyc, who has been at her side since the organization was formed.
“He was actually the first person I approached,” Williams says, “because I knew that he had a well–established fan base in Savannah. He was previously with the group S.O.L. Essential – they had a fan base and knew the venues in the area. I figured he would be a really great artist to start with.”
KidSyc, who’ll perform with his band Brandywine, says anything Williams is associated with carries a trademark of quality. “I always knew she had this really genuine spirit about her,” he explains, “that there was nothing fake or phony about the person she put forth.
“And because of that, when it came time to do the music thing, when she was interested in doing this concert series, there was no question in my mind about whether it would work or not, or who would benefit from it ... it was just ‘Ina’s doing something, and you know it’s going to be positive.’ That alone had me and everybody else on board.”
Real Music’s earliest days were not without struggle, Williams laughs. “It’s about trying to introduce a completely new concept to a city that is pretty well known for being set in its ways.
“It was slow going; when we had audiences, they were always enthusiastic about what we were doing, but our audiences were really small in the beginning. Really small. But every time got better.”
Monday’s afternoon concert, which follows the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday parade, will include performances by Savannah hip hop veterans Mafmadix (a rapper, producer and radio host) and RJ Temple (a multi–instrumentalist, songwriter and producer). Williams herself will sing with simplicity, accompanied by just an acoustic guitar.
The show will close with a tribute to Stevie Wonder from Brandywine and all the other artists together.
Although she’s now based in Atlanta again, Williams has big plans for her network of Real Music artists.
“The goal of it is to bring together people through real music,” she explains. “So that spans genres, backgrounds, cultures, races ... and cities.
“It’s not just supposed to be for one place. We’re working so that in March we’ll have a concert in Atlanta.”
Real Music anniversary concert
Where: Muse Arts Warehouse, 703D Louisville Road
When: At 4:45 p.m. Monday, Jan. 17