May 7, 2024 - News

Taco Talk: Reggie James and Anthony Ball of Music Moves

photos of Music Moves co-founders

Music Moves co-founders Anthony Ball (left) and Reggie James. Photos: Alex Golden/Axios

Alex here. I had lunch outside Rogers food truck El Viejón with Reggie James and Anthony Ball, co-founders of Music Moves, a nonprofit focusing on education and performance of Black music.

Why it matters: "Every genre … that has been created on this soil comes out of the Black diaspora — whether it's pop, whether it's rhythm and blues, whether it's country, whether it's bluegrass," James told me.

  • "If I appreciate you, then I understand your contribution. Then, I don't treat you like you're just here. I treat you like you're a very integral part of what has gone on in our country."

🎤 The intrigue: Music Moves opened a venue, The Music Depot, in downtown Rogers last year. It hosts concerts, visual-arts showcases, film screenings and dance performances.

  • The Music Depot is dedicated to Black art and culture, filling a void in NWA, Ball said. It hosts local and nonlocal musicians performing a range of genres like hip-hop, reggae, gospel or blues.

🎹 Background: James and Ball are longtime musicians. Ball owns Smoothman Music Production and plays drums. James is music pastor at Christian Life Cathedral in Fayetteville and a pianist.

🧑‍🏫 The big picture: Music Moves has a busy and growing agenda. Launched in 2020, the organization has its own music education curriculum that it brings to K-12 music classes, the University of Arkansas and Boys & Girls Clubs. It reaches all of NWA, stretching down to Fort Smith and west across state lines to eastern Oklahoma.

  • The curriculum is for all students, not necessarily just aspiring musicians.

🎶 What's next: Music Moves plans to start hosting summer camps for kids this year. Ball pointed out that students involved in music programs like choir and band often don't have many options to stick with it over summer break.

  • "Imagine if we can get 10% of those kids how we can impact the music community in Northwest Arkansas just by keeping kids engaged," he said.
photo of fries
Spring for the appetizer at El Viejón. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios
photo of tacos
Two chicken tacos and a birria taco made for a great combo. Photo: Alex Golden/Axios

Note: Taco Talk is a regular feature. We'll sample a taqueria with the movers, shakers, artists and bakers of NWA, and rap about news in their world.

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