Artist’s NameNathan Vaughan
Address550 Mountain Ave SW
Roanoke 24016
United States
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Instagram Handle (if any)@we.are.vaughan
Website (if any)
Tell us about you, the artist. Please include a few sentences of biographical information.

Hello reader! This is Nathan Vaughan. I grew up in a safe, semi-sheltered, loving family in a suburb of Northeast Roanoke. My mom started me on piano lessons at 5 years old, and throughout my life, music has been the only constant place where I can always be my full authentic self. My dad is the pastor of a small, local, majority-white Christian church. Because our family life was so intertwined with the life of that church, my understanding of the world around me in childhood and adolescence was limited to the “bubble” I lived in. My understanding significantly expanded in middle school when I began listening to Christian Hip Hop. In late high school, I developed isolative tendencies which led to my first struggle with depression. The decisions I’ve made in adult life can all be traced back to my 4 deepest convictions:

1) I’ve heard many accounts of people in their dying moments wishing they would have made the most of their relationships with family and friends. To fight for purpose and hope during my first season of depression, I resolved that I am going to live my life in such a way that my future self will look back on my life decisions and be satisfied with a life well-lived.
2) Even though commercialization & corruption exists throughout the organized religion of American Christianity, I believe they have some things right regarding the nature of truth and the purpose of life. Because of that, I choose to stay connected with church people, even though I don’t fully belong in those spaces.
3) By listening to the voices of black artists, leaders, and friends, I have learned of the historic struggle for justice of black Americans. I’ve been struck by the evil of racism, and the profound impact it still has on all of us. Precisely BECAUSE I have the option as a white man to ignore that struggle, I choose to care about the black experience in America, and choose to use my voice to advocate for just and restorative causes.
4) Nobody in my family or extended family has ever made a career in a creative field. But as a teenager, I had a hunch that I could be good at this music thing if I ever got a chance. While I was in the midst of an engineering college education, that hunch became a resolve to steer my life into a position where a music career could be a reality.

As I neared college graduation, I wanted so badly to move to a new city where I could start over and pursue a career in music – LA, Nashville, Atlanta, or even somewhere in Florida. But Roanoke presented a fellowship/internship opportunity to pursue the convergence of these 4 convictions, simply by deepening my hometown roots. Compelled by a calling to devote my life to something beautiful, something bigger than myself, I came back home. I have committed to this journey ever since.

Please describe your artistic practice including the media you work in and your approach to your art.

I play and create music (could be piano, beatpad, didgeridoo, or everyday life items like a box of rice) as an expression of my and my people’s experience of the human condition, and I attempt to capture that expression through recorded music. From sharing an initial idea with a close friend to publicly performing a finished song, I’m at my best when I’m using my creativity to authentically connect with people.

Describe the proposed work or project.

The focus of the project will be the recording and performing of a 4 to 7-track musical album titled “something beautiful”. The project will be executive-produced by local producer/engineer Caleb Meyer, and will collaborate with several local artists, producers, and instrumentalists – some known in the Roanoke music scene (such as Taye The Truth) and some unknown.
The album will be accompanied by a documentary-style video series which will serve two purposes:
1) to show the creative, musical, & technical process by which the album is written & recorded
2) to portray the moments when my captivating artistic process will inspire unity and justice among my communities.
The album will be promoted with the release of 1 to 3 singles, and the project will culminate with an album release community event near the time it is published on streaming sites.

How will the work advance wellness, justice, or inclusion in Roanoke? Consider a community issue that you hope to address, something you want to celebrate or a condition you want to change.

“something beautiful” will…
1) …Give voice to the reality that American church institutions are agents of both large-scale injustice and effective preservation of the core history and convictions of Christianity. I want to express my unique experience of living in that tension in a way that invites the listener to consider a hopeful & nuanced perspective.
2) …Offer a conscious perspective of the racial history of Roanoke that can be received by all listeners. At least one song – preferably one of the lead singles – will attempt to address both the systemic effects of urban renewal in Roanoke and our individual inclinations toward ethnic/cultural partiality. I want my project to inspire hope for restorative justice, and to foster trust between parties where it is lacking.
3) …Confront the strong and long-standing attitude that our city is a place creatives and young professionals need to leave in order achieve their goals. Roanoke is in the midst of a movement to establish – for the first time – the artistic and cultural identity of the Southwest Virginia region. I want my project to voice that reality and to cultivate a sense of togetherness as we celebrate the beautiful things of our region.

When do you anticipate undertaking the work? If the project is tied to a set event or date, let us know.

I’ve already begun writing and recording “something beautiful”. Even if I don’t receive the grant, my time is now, and I will find a way to create and share it. I’ve also begun discussing the project with people in my communities, and so far have received both affirming and critical feedback. But both communicate their anticipation for the project. I’m targeting an album release concert/event in May or June.

Are there partners in this effort? If so describe the partnerships and what each partner brings.

– Local producer and audio engineer Caleb Meyer will the primary collaborator in the musical/creative process
– There will be 6-10 other musical collaborators, one of which will be local artist Taye The Truth
– Local videographers Andy Lin and Mike Matteson will film for the documentary series
– Local photographer Tori DeGolyer will be the primary collaborator for artist photoshoots and album artwork
– The Hill Church in Roanoke will support the promotion of the album, as well as potentially catalyze the support of other church communities.
– Jordan Bell of Apple Ridge Farm is supportive of the project, and we plan to coordinate community engagement events in conjunction with his involvement in the Gainsboro community.

Your theory of change: How will the work advance your efforts as an artist toward an established goal? How will you, a partner organization, or the community be changed?

My resolve to make a sustainable music career become my reality led me to another commitment: for every person/organization that helps me in my journey, I will do everything I can to empower their creativity and support our common causes. In the past year, that commitment has turned into a formal mission statement for my forthcoming organization, Living Room Studios.
1) Living Room Studios is a community of artists that empowers creativity, channels healthy self-expression, and engages the culture around us, and that mission statement is to bring to life the artist in all of us, one relationship at a time. “something beautiful” marks the launch of my professional career as an artist, and will catalyze the launch of Living Room Studios.
2) “something beautiful” is a call to all church communities – especially to the ones I’m connected with in Roanoke and the New River Valley – to embrace the double-edged reality of American church institutions that I mentioned in question 4. It’s a call to be transparent and proactive in working toward restorative justice.
3) I have communicated my intentions to support visions/plans for the future of the Gainsboro community.

How much money do you need to accomplish the project? (The allowed range is $500 – $3,000.)$3711
What other resources do you need to accomplish the project?

I need to find 1-3 people who will be the right fit to work with me on video editing/production and on social media management.

Attach a full budget for your project. Include all costs and revenues. This can be a spreadsheet, word document, PDF, or image.Budget-for-something-beautiful.xlsx
Submit your CV, resume, or brag sheet here.
Submit a PDF of up to five images representing recent projects or works. (Max file size 10 MB). This should be one file containing multiple images. This must be a PDF. Include captions describing the work. (A PDF can easily be made using the “print as PDF” function in MS Word or “Download as PDF” in google docs.)Artist-Action-Grant-Images.pdf
Do you have general liability insurance coverage for your arts-based business, either through your own policy or through a project partner?Not yet