365 Memphians, Week Four
This year, I’m posting photos and interviews with unique Memphians I’ve met. Here are Memphians numbers 22-28.
22. Sean Mosley
Sean Mosley might look familiar to you if you’ve ever been to Spillit – he’s a frequent contributor to the storytelling events and competitions, and this Saturday, he’ll perform his first one-man show. Sean moved to Memphis from Michigan with his wife in 2003; he spends his days working at the Millington Naval Base. A few years ago, one of his coworkers suggested he try Spillit (“I think she was tired of listening to all my stories,” he says). He went to Spillit, told his story, and he was hooked. This Saturday, he’ll offer about five stories with the theme, “Fantastic Failures”.
How does Memphis make you feel? “Famous. When I come [to Spillit] people recognize me. They remember my stories and try to tell them back to me and it feels like…wow, people actually know me.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m proud of my kids and my family, but personally, I’m proud that I actually left home and came to Memphis and made a name for myself. And now I’m doing this one-man show, which is probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done on my own. Growing up I had a lot of dreams about things I could be – and storyteller wasn’t one of them – but somehow, some way, I got here. And I’m proud of that.”
You can see Sean’s show, “Fantastic Failures: An Evening With Sean Mosley” this Saturday at Amurica Photo at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 cash at the door and doors open at 6:30 p.m. (Get there early if you want a seat.) You can follow Spillit on Twitter @spillitmemphis, on Facebook, or on their website, spillitmemphis.com.
23. Tonya Dyson
Tonya Dyson (Memphian #27 from the 2011 edition) is one of the most outspoken supporters of the Memphis music scene I’ve ever met. Over the years, this Lemoyne-Owen college graduate has performed and written music, booked and promoted concerts, founded Neosoulville.com, worked at Memphis In May, and traveled the world representing Memphis. Now she is a music teacher and organizer for the 2nd annual Soulsville USA Festival (save the date – October 15th).
How do you think Memphis has changed in the last 5 years? “It’s changed a lot for the better. You have always seen people with a lot of talent in Memphis – people who can sing, play, dance. But in the last five years you’ve seen the cultivation of truly amazing, talented people – some really good ones. Iron sharpens iron, and the bar is so high here. People who went through ‘boot camp’ here in Memphis are making a name for themselves outside of Memphis: take a look at Harlem Fashion Row, Black Girls Code, Li’l Buck, Moziah Bridge, singers for artists like New Genesis, Iggy Azalea, JLo, and more. If you look at what’s going on outside of our immediate local scene and view it globally – Memphis runs the entertainment industry.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m proud of the people and the relationships that I’ve built here. I see my friends succeed and I realize now how we struggled together when we started out. They started out in the mail room and now they’re executives. Here, you can see the beginning and the true grit and grind. You see the heartache and hardships, but you see the victory. Memphis is a city, but it’s also a little town. You can witness those things and be a part of those things. You wouldn’t get that in New York, Chicago, or other bigger cities.”
You can follow Tonya via Neosoulville on Twitter at @neosoulville, Facebook, or on the website. You can also follow her on Twitter at @tonyadyson and @soulsvillefest. Also check out my other interview with Tonya here.
24. Josh Huckaby
Ed. Note: I featured Josh this week because Thursday, Feb. 4 is World Cancer Day, and he’s a special volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. The Hope Lodge provides housing for out-of-town cancer patients and their caregivers who are visiting Memphis for treatment. Special thanks to Sarah Bynum for putting me in touch with Josh.
Josh Huckaby is a part of downtown Memphis history. He owns the Green Beetle restaurant on South Main, which is considered by many to be the oldest tavern in town. His grandfather owned the place in the 1940s, and four years ago Josh had the opportunity to bring it back into the family (“it was a no-brainer”, he says). About a year ago, he felt the need to give back, and so he called the American Cancer Society. Josh now provides a hot meal for the families residing in the Hope Lodge nearly every Thursday evening. He says it’s just a little bit of his time and food from his kitchen, but it’s one less thing those affected by cancer have to worry about each week. The Hope Lodge residents favorite Thursday dinner menu? Catfish, of course.
How has Memphis changed in the last five years? “South Main has grown so much, especially the residential. Now the Chisca is up and running, there’s a new restaurant out of there, and there may be a hotel around here soon. It looks different and much more vibrant than it was five years ago”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Memphis makes me feel at home.”
25. Leroy Watson, Jr.
Leroy Watson, Jr. is a born and raised Memphian and a self-described “sports nut”. A few years ago, he began blogging about Tigers basketball as a hobby. Fast forward to today, and he’s one of the most respected high school sports journalists around. He writes about Tigers basketball and football for Memphis.Rivals.com and hosts Shelby County’s only radio show dedicated to high school sports: iPreps Memphis. Leroy also gets to know players and coaches, serving as a sort of unofficial mentor and college recruiter for young student athletes. He attends around 150 high school basketball games per year, in addition to 20+ prep football games, and most of the Tigers football and basketball home games.
What’s something you’re proud of? “I’m proud of the work I’ve been able to do helping mentor student athletes. I’ve run into some really wonderful young men and young ladies and I’ve been very proud to help them, whether it’s getting into college, starting journalism careers, or being there to tell them to stay out of trouble, stay in school.”
The best thing you’ve eaten in the last week? “I made a homemade vinaigrette dressing that I wish I could remake. It was simple, but I was stunned at how good it was. But a close second, was at DejuVu – I had the VooDoo Roux.”
26. Alexis Grace
Alexis Grace is many things: a DJ on Q107.5, a singer-songwriter, a musical theater performer, and a past American Idol contestant. She lives in Memphis with her nine-year-old daughter and husband, and right now, she’s performing the role of “Whats-Her-Face” in Playhouse on the Square’s American Idiot, which is on stage until February 14. Something special she’s noticed about Memphis: “If there’s a common positive goal, then most everyone is for it. I don’t know if other places are like that, but Memphis has a good idea of camaraderie when we have a purpose.”
What’s the best thing you’ve eaten in the last week? “Sushi from Fresh Market, especially like their nigiri. My husband (who is the music director at Playhouse) and I will walk over there on break from rehearsal and share some sushi.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Artists – and young people in general – always have dreams of wanting to move away and try bigger cities. I think you should try that at least once in your life – I’ve done it a few times. But that moment the plane comes back over Memphis I always feel relieved. It’s something about the Southern hospitality and the Memphis sass that we have. As a musician, it’s also so fun to live in a city full of people who share a passion for music.”
You can follow Alexis on Twitter at @RealAlexisGrace and keep up with her music releases and performance dates via her Facebook page and hear her tunes on Soundcloud. Several of her American Idiot costars were featured in Week Three’s 365 Memphians.
27. Karen Golightly
Karen Golightly came to Memphis from Mobile, Alabama “a million years ago” to go to Rhodes, and she never looked back. She’s mom to three kids and a professor at Christian Brothers University, is involved in Memphis Reads, and is the director of Paint Memphis. She founded the latter after observing street graffiti and public art in other cities and the relative lack of such projects in Memphis. After 3 years of organization and fundraising, Karen pulled off the first Paint Memphis one-day event last fall, with more than 50 artists painting panels on the .3-mile-long section of the flood wall near Chelsea and N. Evergreen.
How has Memphis changed in the last five years? “In terms of art: I think the launch of the I Love Memphis murals helped change the way people see public art in Memphis. Now, you can drive down many streets and see all kinds of art – some sanctioned by organizations, some rogue, some even illegal. We’ve seen a transformation from what some people see as ‘blight’ into art, and it’s accessible to everybody. We have a ways to go in Memphis, but we’re on the way.”
What’s something you’re proud of? “Doing Paint Memphis was a dream for me. I’m really proud that it was successful and that it’s going to continue, and that we were able to bring so many different people from different worlds together to make it happen. It’s something that’s never happened before…and it’s the biggest collaborative mural in the whole city.”
28. Rebecca Allen
Rebecca Allen is another one of the kind Memphis-loving folks I met at Eclectic Eye in midtown recently. She’s lived all over the U.S., but returned to Memphis 16 years ago because she loves this city (you have to check out her tattoo). She studied fashion merchandising and marketing at The University of Memphi then worked in retail – including opening the midtown Urban Outfitters – before joining the Eclectic Eye team a year and a half ago. Her and her husband, Keith, live in Central Gardens with their two English Sheepdogs.
How has Memphis changed in the last five years? “We bought our house 14 years ago and I have seen this whole area grow. You’re seeing more people out walking and with dogs and bikes, and it’s become much more commuter friendly. And then Overton Square and Cooper Young have changed so much. It’s nice for us to see because we became invested in this neighborhood on the front end. For date nights, we’ll walk to dinner and then to Muddy’s…of course.”
How does Memphis make you feel? “Memphis has always felt like home to me. Even when I lived here from kindergarten through fifth grade, it’s always felt warm and welcoming. We have this little underdog mentality, I feel I have to kind of defend Memphis and I really take that to heart.”
You can follow Eclectic Eye on Facebook, on Twitter at @Eclectic Eye, and on Instagram at @eclecticeyememphis. They also post most of their art openings and events to the I Love Memphis calendar, which is awesomely handy!
That’s it for now.