Spoken Soul Festival Featured Artist Bios
Carla Forte SSF 2014 Featured Filmmaker
Carla Forte is a Venezuelan performer, writer and director living in Miami. Forte is the Co-Founder and Executive Producer of Bistoury Physical Theater and Film. She has performed in and directed Video-Art works like Interrupta, Imaginarium and Assassins for One Night, featured at important venues and festivals such as: 21stQuinzena de Danca de Almada, Portugal (2013); La Biennale di Venezia Marathon of the Unexpected (2012); Non-Verbal Theatre Festival San Vicente, Croatia (2009). Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami (2009); A Desert for Dancing, México (2007). Her cinematographic work includes short films Imaginarium and Reset, selected for Cannes Film Festival’s Court Metrage – Short Film Corner in 2012 and 2013, respectively as well as the feature Urban Stories, Winner of Best Script, Best Cinematography and Best Feature at Bootleg Film Festival, Toronto (2012); and Honorable Mention at both Los Angeles Movies Awards (2011) and Lucerne International Film Festival, Switzerland (2012). fortecarla.com
Christell Roach – SSF 2014 Featured Poet
Christell Victoria Roach was born and raised in Miami, Florida. She is an artistic soul that wears many hats, (a renaissance type of girl). She enjoys all the arts, dances in her church, and studies the Viola and Creative Writing in School. Seeing writing as her forte, and her most adequate form of expression: it is the field she is most diligently pursuing in high school, and in hopefully in someone’s university next year. Christell is in the 12th grade at Miami Arts Charter School. She has been published in Figment Literary Magazines’ ‘Why I Write’ Anthology, in Dog Eat Crow Magazine, in Rattle Literary Magazines’ Young Poets Anthology, and in the Postscript Journal. She has received 5 Gold Keys, 5 Silver Keys, and 4 Honorable Mentions for her writing in the Scholastic Alliance for Young Artists and Writers’ state evaluation/competition, has received 3rd place in Poetry Matters’ 2011 poetry competition, and won 1st place in the 2012 Poetry Society of Virginia poetry competition. She has competed on state and national levels for Spoken Word; she is a member of Tigertail Miami International WordSpeak team that performs annually at YouthSpeaks’ Brave New Voices competition, has competed in the Spoken Word Category in the National Fine Arts competition of 2012, was awarded 3rd place in the Poetry Out Loud state recitation competition of 2013, and placed 2nd in the state competition in 2014 . Christell is a creative thinker, a writer, a dancer, and musician: she can very knowingly say writing is her forte. She sees it as her only adequate form of expression, and she harvests in order to give voice to the art within herself.
Christi “Bella” Arce – SSF 2014 Featured Filmmaker
Christi “Bella” Arce Music Video/ Short Film Director was born and raised in the heart of the “Magic City” Miami, something she is extremely proud of. While exploring her visual creativity through dance in her earlier years she naturally gained a love and appreciation for the Arts. After living and studying in New York City she then migrated back to Miami earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media at The University Of Miami in 2010. Post-graduation, she reached out to World renowned Music Video/ Film Director Hype Williams, in which she gained hands on experience within the Entertainment Industry. After three years of working as Mr. Williams Personal Assistant along with being mentored by him, Bella was ready to take the next steps toward her career, tapping into her inner Creator/Director. Forming her Company “La Bella Presents…” she has written and directed a mini television Pilot “Newtopia” along with directing a handful of Music Videos. While Ms. Arce continues to master her craft she aims to use her own life experiences and apply them to her projects, especially to reach other young women like herself in order to comfort there spirits by giving them stories that they can connect to visually. Currently she is writing/developing a scripted TV series “B.E.L.L.A.S.” centered around a sassy group of four child hood friends searching for there individuality in a tainted city that has molded them into the women that they love and hate to be. Bella plans on completing and packaging the project by Fall 2014. labellapresents.com
Corina Freyre Gaspard – SSF 2014 Featured Photographer
Corina Freyre Gaspard. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, 1981
Psychologist, writer and photographer. She was trained as a Psychologist in Venezuela, as a Photographer in Miami and as a Writer in Life. Poet as a way of life. Uses her knowledge in the field of Psychology to express herself through her artwork. Her work is full of symbolism, ironies, paradoxes, and they have all implicated a very deep process of personal reflexion and emotional involvement.
She has participated in the cinematography field exerting various roles such as still photographer, script supervisor, director of photography, among other. corinafreyre.com
Crystal Sawyer – SSF 2014 Featured Harpist
Crystal Sawyer was born and raised in Miami, FL. She was introduced to music with piano lessons in elementary school. After being accepted into a magnet school, she also became a church musician. While attending high school, she performed in the marching band. Prior to graduation, she received the Silver Knight Nomination in English and Literature. After sustaining a back injury, she was unable to audition for music schools. She was able to begin her studies with an academic scholarship at Florida International University. As she recuperated, she explored the harp at her father’s suggestion. It wasn’t long before she began performing at special events and with orchestras. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She continued her musical studies at Florida Memorial University. She received a graduate degree in
Reading and began teaching harp ensembles. The Lady of Harp freelances throughout the South Florida area for various events. She recently began composing different works for artists (dance/poetry/visual) while continuing to improvise over modern day tracks for recordings and live performances. The release of her debut CD, “The Beginning” featuring original compositions as well as improvisations was released in 2010.The Lady of Harp enjoys uplifting people with the soothing sounds of the instrument and hopes to one day take her musical improvisations to a grander stage on an international level. ladyofharp.com
DIANA MERA – SSF 2014 Featured Singer
Diana Mera was born in Quito, Ecuador under the zodiac sign Libra; strong, independent, creative and talented. She’s Peruvian by nationality and heart since she was raised in Lima. With more than a decade in Entertainment, 4 music productions under her belt, charismatic personality and strong passionate voice she is happy to support the SSF. Lives in Los Angeles, California and is in Miami to prep her new music project Sobreviviente. Diana Mera has been featured in Despierta America , De Mañanita, El Gordo y La Flaca, America Live, Univisión Radio, Caracol, Azteca America, RitmoSon Latino, CNN, Los Angeles Times, HoyDallas, Cadena Azul, Caracol and many more media has supported her career. Nominated for a E-World Music Awards, has received a Proclamation by de City of West Hollywood, California and the City of Phoenix. Was honorably recognized by the State Senate. Mera has inspired thousands of people around the world by her visibility as an open LGBTQ performer at the Latin Billboard’s 2012 when Diana kissed her same sex guest in the green carpet in front of press from all over the world.Diana is a songwriter, actress and producer that wants to share with the world her voice, not only her singing voice but her visibility voice that as a gay woman she and all women have all the rights to be successful, loved and respected, she wants to inspire other women from any orientation to be strong, stand up and be who they are. DianaMera.net
DJ Bella don – SSF 2014 Featured DJ
Miami based 80s baby DJ Belladon got her beginnings and influence somewhere between having a reggae DJ father & growing up in a culture of booty music. She’s one to mix up Electronic Dance Music with Dancehall, Trap with Reggaeton, Hip Hop, Soul, & styles you may have never heard before but would love more of. She’s familiar with curious party people wandering off from neighboring clubs to hear what she’s up to. Or the whole crowd suddenly getting quiet to hear the next song she’s mixing in only to explode with excitement, the moment she drops it in. Belladon is often described as a DJ’s DJ as she lends an air of innovation & artistry to any crowd she plays for. This has included private fashion Industry parties, penthouse parties, and clubs like Tempo in Downtown Hollywood, Mekka in Downtown Miami, clubs in South Beach Miami, Ocho Rios & Kingston Jamaica, & Brooklyn New York. facebook.com/djbelladon
DJ Cami – SSF 2014 Featured DJ
What characterizes this artist is her exquisite and diverse taste in music. A child pianist, young performer and choreographer, and creative fiend – her talent positioned her as a protagonist of the entertainment scene in the best spots in Miami. As a consequence, she ended up not only dancing, but wanting to make the masses move at her own rhythm. Having had the opportunity to grow up in places such as Saint Martin, Colombia, Paris and Miami; she was able to develop a keen sense for a diversity of sounds and feelings in music. She identifies with Hip Hop, Soul, Electro Bass, Deep / Disco House, among others. She is part of the “Geishaz”, an international community of female DJ’s from around the world. Her career as a Dj includes venues such as being resident at “The Office” lounge, playing at different events during the Winter Music Conference in Miami at the Clevelander Hotel, Nicky Beach and others. Past sponsorships include Adidas and Ortofon. As vice-president of Dopamine Records she traveled Europe (London, Amsterdam, Paris) throughout the years. Her most recent landing was in Chile, where she is now renown as one of the main DJ’s of the local scene. She is a nomad who has no steady home, and she continues to be part of different Live Radio and Television shows in Miami; besides creating and remixing her own music djcamee.com
Jennifer Maria – SSF 2014 Featured Multi-Disciplinary Artist
Jennifer Maria was born in Miami, FL as the first American on either side of her Colombian family.She’s lived in various locales and has traveled to many more.
She grew up painting and drawing before immersing herself into photography.
She intended to use her photographs as references for her paintings, but ended up falling in love with the process of creating and capturing with a camera.
Jennifer Maria produces mostly digital photography, however, she also delights in creating with black & white film. She happily engages much time, love & care into creating silver gelatin prints in her darkroom. She continues to paint– primarily on canvas, though she also enjoys utilizing the human body as canvas.
Her work often carries moody and sensual undertones. It’s exhibited in art shows & galleries as well as magazines worldwide. The “Luscious” series is an ongoing exploration of food, sensuality and the act of consumption through the use of color, detail and texture. Jennifer Maria draws inspiration from many sources: the ocean, her dreams, loved ones, travels, and more. She’s currently based in Miami Beach, FL, where she continues to explore and express artistically as well as contribute to various philanthropic efforts throughout South Florida and beyond. jennifermaria.com
Juno – SSF 2014 Featured Mixed Media Artist & Creator of SSF Goddess 2014
Jalan “Juno” Harris was born in Freeport, Grand Bahama. From an early age, she had a passion for drawing and writing. Upon high school graduation, she made a choice to find herself and spent 10 months in France, learning the cultural and social aspects. Harris visited many museums, including the famous Musee d’Orsay and Louvre. It was then she was determined to make a true Juno then pursued her Associates at College of the Bahamas where she was taught by professional artists in her community. She was immediately thrown into the art world, which after 2 years of multiple studio classes Juno will obtain her degree in Spring 2014, hoping to artisan of herself.
enticed her more than anything ever did to pursue her BA elsewhere.
Kaaren Styles – SSF 2014 Featured MC
Kaaren Styles is a Multi-Media Artist based out of Miami with roots in Pittsburgh and Detroit. Coming from a diverse background of influences, Styles is a versatile writer, vocalist and freestyle rapper on a mission to share both ugly truth and messages of love. Committed to being herself one hundred percent she hopes to be a positive influence for younger women. Her most recent album release is the hiphop/rock collaboration album with Web Three “Loss, Love & The New Normal” which followed the release of her Steel EP. DJ Nasty Nate often performs with her, creating a high energy show. But her name “Styles” rings true when she decides to perform with a live band, getting sultry and saucy for intimate audiences. Under the name Kaaren Alise, her first international release in 2003 was collaboration with Jamaican artist Jah Mason called “Who Dem A Ramp Wit”, a dancehall inspired roots track. After working for ID Labs Studio and Slip N Slide Records she gained knowledge that would help her navigate her dreams on her own terms. With a BA in Film & Video, you can see her online Fridays from 6-8pm EST for The Rich Flo Show and Sundays 12-2pm EST for Styles From The Underground on UniverseMiami.com. . In 2011 she was awarded for her success as an International Hair Stylist by Positive Teen Magazine and Bijoux Hair. She then founded Make N Style as a resource for freelance artists in South Florida. A modern renaissance woman. An Artist of Style. KaarenStyles.com
Maylin Enamorado – SSF 2014 Featured Poet
Michelle Faviola Ralph-Fortòn – SSF 2014 Featured Visual Artist
Michelle Faviola Ralph-Fortòn (Miami raised) is a fiber artist who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2013. Her work often evokes memory, present or destined premonitions. By using tactile and ephemeral materials, such as woven fabrics, the work remains intimate, providing narratives tainted with personal histories. The goal is not for audiences to pinpoint an origin, but to feel an extrinsic intensity, guiding them towards their own interpretation and recollected memories.
Conservation of cultural textiles and awareness for fair trade production are fields that resonate with her future goals. Michelle aspires to work directly with skilled artisans all over the world, designing for fair trade companies, while maintaining her own practice. She is hopeful to advance the movement of consumer awareness, using her weavings as a tool to relay social messages.
Her work was featured in the Young Textile Art Triennial (YTAT), Central Museum of Textiles in Lodz, Poland (2013). Most recently, she participated as a performer for Enough About You, work by Einat Amir during SCOPE Art Fair, Art Basel Miami Beach (2013). michellefaviola.com
Shamoyia – SSF 2014 Featured Poet
Shamoyia Gardiner is a product of Miami, Florida. She is finishing her last semester at the University of Florida and is really excited about the piece of paper she’ll receive in May validating the fact that she knows a little something about Political Science. Her first stage experience was abysmal, which, of course, kept her coming back for more. In 2008 she was rewarded with a spot on Tigertail Productions’ WordSpeak youth slam team and represented Miami while traveling to the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Festival. She did this for three amazing years, but then college happened.
Since 2011, she has served as the president of Poets, Inc., a poetry collective on her campus. This position has afforded her the opportunity to perform for much cooler artists than herself-Nikki Giovanni- as well as the ability to give back to the community, which she does by writing workshops for Poets, Inc to host for youth in Gainesville and Micanopy. In 2012 she released her first chapbook, Black Water Girl, at a show called Storytellers, which she happened to co-write, publicize, and perform in alongside three other feature poets and one brilliant singer-songwriter. This year, she will release her second chapbook Blood on the Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground, and move to Jacksonville, Florida to begin her two-year commitment with Teach for America as a secondary science teacher.
Sofia Bodniza – SSF 2014 Featured Comedian
Sofia Bodniza, born and raised in Miami, is a young and rising Actress & Comedian who began just a few months ago. Always seeking the humor out in every situation, she finally found the courage to perform her work in front of audiences ranging from South Florida to New York City. In only a few months, she’s competed in contests such as “Florida’s Funniest Comedian” at the Ft.Lauderdale Improv and a “Turkey Contest” which was a Thanksgiving event raffling off a turkey. Whether winning a title or a turkey, Sofia gives her all and connects with the audience in a way that will make you want to listen all night. Because of her age and her gender, many initially doubted her – but between her quick wit and stage presence, the doubt quickly turned into laughter and respect. She deems her spirituality is what keeps her centered and able to let go of any fear that arises before performing. She has strong faith that her hard work will bring her to places unimaginable and in doing so, she continues to provide “medicine” in the form of laughter to many. Stand-up comedy is indeed the most difficult of arts to perform – and she’s got “it”. facebook.com/sofia.bodniza.7