In every music community, you have those who perform, others who teach, and some who advocate on behalf of performers. However, every so often, you come across someone who embodies all three roles, exemplifying what it means to take care of business.
Arsena Schroeder has resided in Charlotte since 1996 and has been leaving her mark on the Queen City ever since. She got her initial feel for the stage as a child actor, performing in various commercials and musicals. As she got older, her gaze went from being in the spotlight to organizing, planning, and business management. Little did she know, the two worlds would soon collide in more ways than one. When I curiously asked her about making the shift to more managerial positions, she said, “I enjoy performing, but I’ve always had a knack for strategizing, organizing, and seeing a vision through.”
Over the past year or so, I have gotten the chance to see Arsena in action and watch her bring her own flavor to every venue she steps foot in. However, when she’s not showcasing her rich mezzo-soprano tone and soulful lyrics, she makes it a point to give other artists a chance to showcase their respective talents as well. I have been particularly impressed with how quickly her company, Dear Soul Music, has expanded throughout Charlotte and surrounding areas. With the help of the Arts & Science Council she has been able to provide a workshop series titled “Using Your Unique,” teaching essential tools for artists, such as songwriting and branding. Along with this, she has pioneered a popular, ongoing concert series called “Unplugged + Live.”
I was amazed when I found out exactly how much work she was producing. When you’re an independent artist, getting your music into the ears of the general public can be a job in itself. For her to also create a platform, highlighting the blossoming talent within Charlotte, is remarkable. A beautiful quote I got from her, when asked how she would describe her endeavors was “Much of my work is advocacy for aspiring and emerging creatives, particularly musicians. While I write, record, and perform my own work, I enjoy reaching back to lend the helping hand I would have loved to have when I entered the music scene.”
When it comes to actually performing, artists can have trouble getting their foot in the door at the beginning of their career. Many artists take the route of performing at open mics or house concerts, while some do what I did and rent out affordable co-working spaces and put on shows themselves. Arsena’s concert series is a gem because it gives performers a chance to shine in a low stakes environment. Most artists will tell you that one of the biggest factors that will make or break your performance is nerves. Fortunately, at every Unplugged + Live show I have witnessed, the crowd is always generous with their appreciation and support. You might even hear an exclamatory “Amen!” here and there! As an audience member, it is always a pleasant feeling seeing an artist take a sigh of relief or smile from ear to ear when we reciprocate what they are delivering to us. As a performing artist myself, I am truly thankful for people like Arsena for making an effort to curate inclusive spaces for artists to be free and simply express themselves.
As someone who is watching the Queen City grow firsthand, I am particularly interested in knowing where a visionary such as Arsena could see the Charlotte arts scene go. When asked, she stated “Charlotte is booming right now! I’ve lived here since 1996, and it’s grown to be much more than just a banker’s city. The arts scene is thriving more and more, as creatives continue to create platforms to get the exposure they need. My hope is that we become a city known for artistic entrepreneurship—artrepreneurship—instead of exploitation and ‘starving artists.’”
With leaders like Arsena Schroeder in the city, we are definitely on the fast track to seeing that vision through. We appreciate everything that you are and what you are bringing to the table. You can find out more about Arsena at arsenamusic.com. You can also find out about any of Dear Soul Music’s events by following @dearsoulmusicco on Facebook & Instagram.