Celebrating Diversity Through Music: A Night with Sofar Sounds

By : Arina Karkhanis


From growing a creator workforce that’s representative of our global community to servicing hundreds of non-profits that fight for racial equality, VidMob is constantly exploring the nexus between diversity and human creativity. In January, VidMob co-hosted a virtual Sofar Sounds event to ring in a night of incredible artistry, black talent and company bonding.

Sofar Sounds is an organization that curates intimate live concerts across 444+ cities featuring independent, local artists—and often in very atypical venues. Venues can range from homes to co-working spaces to large brick & mortar businesses… and now Zoom. In March of 2020, Sofar Sounds halted all shows worldwide, affecting over 2,000 talented artists and local music communities. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Sofar Sounds has pivoted to an entirely online streaming service where they coordinate private live shows. VidMob wanted in on the fun.

Our Sofar Sounds concert headlined two soulful musicians who uplifted the entire VidMob network. Rue Brown, an eclectic hip hop musician from Washington D.C. is not just a singer but a storyteller with an extensive background in dance, film, and musical theater. Ms. Brown performs with her live band all over the NYC/Tristate area and has opened for artists such as Eric Benét and Big Daddy Kane. She’s previously performed at the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem and the Urban World Film Festival. But on this night Zoom was her stage, and VidMob, her audience. Her Debut Ep, “Save Your Soul”, will be released this summer. Ms. Brown played four songs from her set: “Yesterday”, “Nina”, Erykah Badu “on & on”, and “Return”. Ms. Brown is known for mingling her deeply personal lyrics with formal elements from soul, hip hop and jazz—culminating in emphatic, contemporary pieces that transcend genre. Her musical presence was complemented by utmost flair and personality, as she weaved personal anecdotes and conversations with the VidMob audience throughout the night.

Performing with Sofar Sounds via Zoom has been one of the most unique experiences of my musical career! Trusting the process and the music means everything when you can’t hear the applause. I have gained great confidence in my sound and in the music community through the pandemic, knowing that even when we can’t be in the same room we still crave art, music, and the feeling of a live band experience! Dancing, grooving, and applauding in our own spaces.

– Rue Brown

See Rue Brown’s last live Sofar concert with a performance of “Sugar Baby” / “Make Me Smile”.

But the night didn’t end there. We continued to dance across genres, as we pivoted into spoken word poetry and rap with ShySpeaks. ShySpeaks, also known as Shy Amos, is a powerful lyricist in every sense of the word. As a hip- hop and spoken word artist, ShySpeaks uses music as a medium for activism and advocacy. Her musical mission is to “treat the words artists, advocate, and activist as one in the same.” She is a master of beat, vernacular and rhyme. She jokingly says, “Actually, I actively play acrobats with the alphabets!” Her listeners often characterize her rhymes as “brilliant, spiritual and introspective”, and VidMob can certainly attest to her impressive flow and artistry. As an independent artist, she’s released 3 projects, countless singles and was even featured on the Dove Award winning album, Let the Trap Say Amen (Lecrae/Zaytoven), alongside the Grammy Award winning album, Losing My Religion (Kirk Franklin).

Subscribe to her Youtube Channel and check out her latest song, “The King Remix”: an uplifting homage to the late Kobe Bryant.

VidMob is proud to house a talented and expansive network of content creators worldwide. In their own right, both video and musical performance are storytelling mediums: fluid crafts of soundtrack, rhythm, design, audio and human voice. There is something undoubtedly human about crafting and releasing creative into the world, and we’re grateful for Rue Brown and ShySpeaks for letting us in on the magic of their powerful storytelling. Even more, it’s reassuring that nearly a year of lockdown and the emptying of once-packed performance venues haven’t destroyed musical innovation and consumption. Especially in a time where social distancing is the imperative, VidMob was thrilled to gather and groove to a night of soulful sound.

I strongly believe that experimenting with creative formats is the most impactful way to tell a story. On this musical evening, our headline artists harnessed the power of music to do just that. Some of the songs were about love, some were about a struggle, some were about hope, and Rue Brown and ShySpeaks managed to enliven the entire VidMob community with their masterful performances.

– Chirag Madnani, VidMob Product Manager and Coordinator of Sofar Event