The ARTIST: “27.”

Afro, AfroDASH, Arts, Arts and Culture, Culture, Ethnomusicology, Fundraising, Latin America, Music, Performing Arts, Reflection, Spanish, Uncategorized

The campaign has launched and the fundraising effort for a project two years developing is underway; now comes the moment to reflect on the personal and artistic journey that has brought me to this pivotal moment in my career. Through narratives, photos and videos, I will take the remaining 17 campaign days to tell my story and share my great passion for sharing language, my culture, my music and my world. First and foremost, I invite you all to take a moment to read about the first of the three pillars of this next year’s project campaign.

Erin “Marisol” Corine: The Artist, The Image and The INITIATIVE.





First things first, before that floaty, flighty, superstition-fueled passion of mine takes over, I want everyone to understand one very important thing:


I have been waiting for the year that I would turn twenty-seven since—well, since I could count to twenty-seven.


Really, though.


Now, there is no real reason for this apart from having learned at an early age of a quirky, age-old American tradition that celebrates the “Golden Birthday,” which is the birthday in which you will celebrate the age that corresponds with the date of your birth. Your Golden Birthday is meant to signify a sort of coming of age that is not defined by the quantity of years that you will be celebrating, rather by a cosmic numerological force that assigns numbers to your existence representative of anything from good fortune and fruitful blessings to wisdom and pivotal life events. Whether or not you decide to research numerology in great depth or to simply develop a sentimental attachment to a number that holds some meaning to you is a personal decision, of course; the simple fact of the matter is that not everyone even THINKS about these things, let alone believes in them. However, for those that develop some type of existential relationship with these numbers, something really curious happens: your number(s) become a mental point of reference for sometimes even the most mundane of day-to-day tasks and activities.


(Side note: Whether or not this supposed “good fortune” is due purely to your fixation on the number or some actual cosmic force that promises a life-changing Golden Year or Golden Birthday, regardless of age, is both beyond me and beside the point. Stay with me here, eye-rolling skeptics; there’s a real, actual point to all of this.)


Now, to elaborate—because I feel the need to elaborate, not that I need to talk anyone into Number Worship (is that a thing?!??)—I know that this is a very subjective topic. As with ny intangible belief system, this sort of thing is subject to personal investment, perhaps teachings from parents or grandparents, or maybe even cultural differences. To many, we’re just talking about a superstition of some sort, right? However, I have to ask a question on behalf of those similar to myself to think for a moment: how many times do you find yourself subconsciously choosing a particular number for whatever purpose, whether it is mom’s birthdate, a memorable age or otherwise, simply because it stands out to you? It’s familiar to you, isn’t it? Superstition or not, this completely and unmistakably human habit of building relationships with the intangible is a wonderfully motivating process for many people— myself included. Superstition or not, we often assign meaning to these numbers, and with this meaning comes the desire to achieve something. With this meaning comes the desire to seek effectively create “Good Omens” and, in turn, safeguard those Good Omens and call on them when we most seek reassurance and confidence. Really, the fact of the matter is that, superstition or not, this mental trick of sorts works for some of us.


So. The number.

I’m going to be honest: when I realized somewhere around fourth grade that my Golden Birthday would occur when I would be nearly thirty, to tell you that I was disappointed wouldn’t do the sentiment justice. I was devastated. DE.VA.STATED. How could all of my friends get to have Golden Birthdays at cool ages like ten, thirteen, sixteen, eighteen—and I was stuck with TWENTY-SEVEN?? That sounds ancient when you’re nine. Life is over when you’re almost thirty. I felt so slighted.


…Well, I really should have known better. Really.


I should have had a whole lot more faith in my extremely milestone-focused, symbolism-conscious, birthday-and-cultural-ritual-obsessed existence. I should have know than I would eventually get over the agonizing wait that the born-day Heavens had granted me and resolve to wait, albeit extremely impatiently, for my elusive Golden Year to arrive. What I did realize through the years, however, is that this wait may have turned out to be the greatest blessing of my life. Remember that aside about the significance of assigning meaning to numbers for the sake of self-motivation and seeking numerological validation in your every-day life?


I guess what I decided on making my Golden Year instead of simply waiting for it.


What the number twenty-seven became to me was a self-imposed checkpoint. For a number so meaningful, I decided that I wanted to have created a life for myself to match. Of course, my definition of “meaningful life” has changed many times over the course of ten years—it has endured the learning and re-learning of a language, the transformation of an extra-curricular activity into a profession and the discover of real, true love in all of its forms. This definition has survived wins, losses, and challenges to my belief systems that have left me much less concerned with physical accomplishment on a deadline and more concerned with the development of a life so centered around my sense of passion, determination and desire to connect with others that I could put my mind to just about anything and never fail. This definition now includes a host of skills and abilities that I’ve picked up in my twenty-six years, nine months and sixteen days—many of which I didn’t know I had. I mean really, I’m sitting here, just under three months before my Golden, and I couldn’t have imagined what my life would be like today had even a psychic tried to convince me, you guys… All because somewhere around age twenty-three, I resolved that instead of within for tangible, so called “sensible” things by age twenty-seven, I decided that I just wanted to know.


I wanted to know who Erin Corine Johnson was and I wanted to be PROUD of her.


All in all, what I believe I realized those few years ago is that far more important than these tangible, ideological past goals that may or may not have been within my own control was to develop an understanding of all of the things I am and, subsequently, accept myself for all the things that I am not. In seeking this sort of inner-peace within myself as an individual, I have become so much better equipped to pursue my life’s goals and make a big difference in the world as a professional. There are so many abilities that make me valuable, and I suppose I just needed to learn how not to focus on the ones that I didn’t have in order to work on improving the ones that I did. I mean honestly, have you ever tried doing something that you weren’t really good at as a profession? Did you enjoy it or did you feel awful about yourself afterward? I’m willing to bet on the latter—but not out of self-righteousness. No.

Out of EXPERIENCE. This happened to me for too long. Never again.

So, as an individual artist, this milestone is huge for me. HUGE. This is not simply a number to fixate on or a birthday to celebrate; what this will be is a celebration of having arrived to a point of acceptance, a point discovery, and a point of confidence in the fact that the professional and PERSONAL voice that I have spent years developing is ready to go out and do some really, really amazing things. I will arrive to year twenty-seven knowing that I have created a lifestyle that is true to ME: my defined set of values, interests, skills and passions. My work as a musician, teacher, creator and cultural-liaison reflects where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, who I have met and, perhaps most importantly, where I’m going.


My work FINALLY reflects where I’m going.


That is really, honestly and truly more than I could have ever hoped for.

(And you know… Something tells me that little nine year-old girl from all those years ago might be preeeeetty happy if she could see how things turn out.) J




Project Afro(–)

Afro, AfroDASH, Arts and Culture, Fundraising, Latin America, Music, Performing Arts, Spanish

The time has come and the #WeAreAfroDASH IndieGogo Campaign has launched. Now, take a moment to read a detailed description of this first long-term, performance-based Ethnomusicology project by musician and cultural diversity activist,

Erin “Marisol” Corine.

* * * * * * *

Project Afro(–) is a concept designed to unify musicians, artists, academics, thinkers, believers, leaders, followers, diversity activists and beyond under a common theme: the diasporic movement and cultural development of the African race across North America, South America, Europe, and anywhere else we are.

Pronounced “AfroDASH,” the proposed movement serves as a point of reference, a point of inspiration, and a point of CULTURAL INTERCHANGE for musicians and interdisciplinary artists. This long-term collaborative music and performing arts documentation and creation project embodies the spirit of the root that binds us all, removed or un-removed, to the original source of our musical and cultural identities in Africa—both as Afro- people and as non-Afro people that identify with our cultures.

Over the course of two years, Project Afro(–) aims to:

  • Foster a conscious intellectual and artistic exchange amongst people of mixed African descent by creating a platform for the discussion of racial identity based on social circumstances, foreign immigration and mixed-racial influence. These interactions will be continuously documented using video journals, photo albums, writings, demonstrative concerts. The project proposes to publish a dedicated website and recorded mixtape of shared experiences, performances, projects, and impactful experiences that depict this journey of revival, creation and cultural exchange.
  • Collect and publish these documents in digital format, in partnership with one or more academic institutions in the United States, in order to serve as a teaching tool for studies in humanities, liberal arts and the performing arts.
  • Finally, develop a diverse ensemble of the same name—AfroDASH—of talented performers in the culturally-rich center of Madrid, Spain dedicated to the revivalpreservation, fusion and, most importantly, the use of these video documents, concerts and revival efforts as a means of using the teaching and sharing our languages, cultures, and traditions to foster understanding, expand knowledge and inspire social advancement amongst ourselves, our communities and audiences in our home countries.


Background Noise

I started out as a little girl sitting at grandma’s old living room piano, plunking out any little melody I could remember. This later became sitting at Mom’s choir rehearsals in church home in Chicago. Years pass, I hear the flute for the first time, fall in love, and begin to play at age 12. Somewhere in there, there were years of listening to Spanish being spoken by Latin-American friends which later resulted in four years of classes to begin learning the language that would someday change my entire world. In these formative years, my love for connecting with people of varying cultural and artistic backgrounds grew. My desire to discover new places and expand my musical language began three years ago, when I first set foot in Valencia in July of 2011 for the Berklee Valencia Flamenco Summer Music Program. My world opened in a way that I never could have imagined, and I set out on an adventure to find my own unique identity based on many genres of music that I had begun to study in depth, accompanied by this new language that I had suddenly expanded my vision.

All in all, in nearly 15 years accompanied by many wins, losses, the learning and re-learning of a language and a complete 180 degree turn in musical direction later, this turning point in my life has not only led me to new genres, but has sent me into a retrospective survey of my own cultural background. After these last two life-changing years in Valencia sharing, exchanging and learning with musicians and artists from all of the world, I have emerged with a deeper connection to African-American music—traditional, rural, contemporary and popular—than ever before. The ability to express in two languages and in many musical styles with many instruments is the greatest gift I could have ever asked for. The joy that I feel every time I discover a new connection to another part of the world using one of these languages or styles of music is the inspiration behind my life’s work of teaching, performing and sharing culture. I will never stop looking for new ways to connect—and my objective as an artist and teacher is to inspire others to do the same.

The Movement: #WeAreAfroDASH.



This concept, honestly speaking, needs to have its own blog post. This is not only because I am, admittedly, a woman of many, many words—but most importantly, it is the basis for what is now my life’s work. For now, however, let me mull a little bit out in the open. I’ll explain a few things to get your gears going.

As an African-American in a foreign country, the most amazing part of this experience has been to meet and interact with Afro-Europeans and Afro-Latinos—in other words, displaced Afro cultures descendent of the slave trade or mass immigration—that have more in common with our culture in the United States than I had really ever even given myself time to consider. It was my next huge revelation, second only to my falling in love with Flamenco music years ago, that our similar roots and social circumstances in the history of our cultural development have provided us with a common cultural code—and subsequently, music, literature, poetry and other forms of artistic expression that are easily explored, developed and able to be fused together in a deeper and more meaningful way. For this reason, Afro(—) is the title of a concept designed to unify musicians, artists, academics, thinkers, believers, leaders, followers, diversity activists and beyond under a common theme: the diasporic movement and cultural development of the African race across North America, South America, Europe, and anywhere else we are.

Through this project rooted in Contemporary Ethnomusicology—meaning, the study of non-western musical tradition and its impact on societal development and the emergence of new genres in today’s world—the goal of Afro(–) is to use the histories of our common roots and identities as a basis for exploration, documentation, revival, re-creation and, ultimately, to develop new music.

The Detailed BREAKDOWN: How your donation funds the Artist, the Image, and the INITIATIVE.

Upcoming Obstacles:

While there are many hurdles associated with start-up of a long-term music project of any type, the international aspect of this particular project presents a particular challenge. Having accepted a part-time position as a North American Language and Culture Assistant with the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports, I have the fortune of being able to renew my visa and return to Madrid in September with health insurance and a small stipend to help cover living expenses.

The main challenge: Establishment with a work permit and the lawful right to partake in “lucrative” work is quite a process—which means that in order to begin an independent project or undertake any sort of professional work outside of the terms of my visa, I must arrive with funds to support my own work until I have been approved for a Spanish social security number to pay taxes and work legally in the “bigger” sense. Small gigs and things that are not technically required to pay for living expenses are perfectly legal—but should a larger venue or organization want to contract me as a teacher or performer, I will need this tax ID number in order to be hired, even for small collaborations. Because this process will take time, the PHASE I fundraising goal is to secure supplemental funding for a dual live/work studio space, a start-up teaching studio, basic recording and performance equipment, and costs associated with establishment as an individual artist working and residing dually in the United States and Spain. 

The biggest challenge with establishing a new project is not only financial, but also emotional and PHYSICAL. Spreading the word takes time, patience, and PERSEVERANCE! With the first phase of fundraising out of the way, I will be able to focus on what I do best: networking, teaching, performing, and really communicating how much this movement means to me!

How your donation funds The Artist:

  • Offsets costs associated with visa application materials and processing fees
  • Pre-departure financial advising, tax preparation and establishment in the US before departure for Madrid in September
  • Offset of moving costs from Valencia to Madrid (my THIRD major move in my twenty-six years—I can hardly believe it!)
  • Registry of branding and logo assets for protection of intellectual property (Erin “Marisol” Corine, Project AfroDASH [Afro(—)] and logo designs)
  • Professional website development
  • Start-up Bilingual Artist-Management consultation and costs
  • Beginning of a fund to record an EP demo for distribution
  • Venue rental for PHASE II Fundraiser: Pre-Departure Presentation and Concert, to be held in CHICAGO in early September 2014.

How your donation funds The Image:

With the help of your donation, I will reunite with artistic partner and childhood friend Allison Kortokrax of Korto Photography (Chicago, IL) to create the third and perhaps the most meaningful installment yet of my yearly “Natural Journey” document. With funding, we will be able to bring this year’s concept to life in a special location, one that has so greatly impacted my perception of life, beauty and self-image. More on this—it’s such a meaningful installment in this project that it deserves its own blog post!! In the meantime, any donors, media outlets (magazines, websites, journals or otherwise relevant sources) looking to directly sponsor this portion of the project will receive commemorative color prints of their choosing from the upcoming photo session or any sessions from previous years or, for media outlets, rights to the publication and distribution of our story!

And finally, How your donation funds The INITIATIVE:

In addition providing the funding for a live/work space in which musicians, colleagues, friends and family can come together to share, jam, and document these experiences under the project label #WeAreAfroDASH, your donation provides the following logistical support:

  • Purchase of recording and performance equipment (see Google Drive link to full list of sought-after materials and software)
  • Basic furnishing of in-home rehearsal/community gathering space
  • Funding to offer free language classes and exchanges in the start-up phase of this project in an effort to spread the word and begin the #AfroDASH movement
  • Funding to pay friends, musicians and collaborators (photographers, videographers and sound techs for bigger projects) for their time and energy during the first year start-up phase.

The last two important things to note:

  • This is a PHASE I project goal! I am running an intensive run for 27 days in which I will be rallying to gather as much support as possible in an effort to meet this online donation goal before setting off on my the planning of a Live Fundraising Presentation/Concert gathering in September.
  • In addition, there is an OFFLINE goal of $27,000 over the course of the PHASE I IndieGogo campaign and PHASE II fundraising concert event in September. Euros are expensive and I see so much potential in this project over the course of the next two years—so the more financial support, the better! I am grateful for ALL donations, large and small! For this reason, offline donations will be accepted in order meet this stretch goal and cover some immediate costs over the next six weeks. Please reach out via email to find out more about larger investment or sponsorship opportunities and longer-term project objectives!

Last but not least: Know that there ARE other ways that you can help!

We all know that we are living in tough times, and not all of us are financially equipped to help every cause that speaks to our hearts. This is okay, because you know what? I’ve been blessed enough in my life to have a strong circle of prayer, positive energy, well-wishes and motivation in the form of loving friends and family members for nearly twenty-seven years. There are sometimes tools much more useful than money!

  • Are you an artist manager, grant writer, consultant, tax preparer, financial advisor or other image development or advising professional? If so, your TIME and advice is a valuable asset during this pivotal time in my career. Please do not hesitate to reach out via email to offer donations of Skype sessions, in-person consultations and any words of wisdom that you may have to share!
  • Are you professionally connected to a media source? Newspaper? Magazine? YouTube channel? Website? Local News Station? Radio Station? Help me to network and spread the word! The only thing more powerful than how many you know is the influence of each individual that you know!
  • Are you a culturally-focused or otherwise relevant (Natural Hair, African-American arts and Culture, Music, Photography, Arts, etc) magazine source, online or print, that would like to sponsor the YEAR THREE image photo shoot with KORTO Photography in exchange for rights to publish the photos and my story in your magazine? Contact me for details on the specific amount that we are looking for to fund this year’s installment in the location that we have chosen!
  • Know of any exciting grant or artist funds that sound like they would be perfect fit for my campaign? Let me know! Send links, emails and contacts this way and I will check them out!
  • Have any second-hand (functioning, gently-used) equipment or un-used software to donate or sell at a discounted price? Please check the DropBox link for a list of “wish list” equipment to see if anything matches! I am happy to give any of these items a new home!
  • Are you a venue, gallery or performing arts space owner in the area that would like to host an Afro(–) Campaign Presentation or Concert? Planning for a series of pre-launch PHASE II Project AfroDASH presentation events here in Chicago, Boston, New York and a few other potential cities is underway; I am looking the right location(s) and accepting proposals! Gallery owners and concert venue managers, please contact me via email at if you are interested in hosting an event!
  • Are you a secondary or university-level institution, Ethnomusicology society, cultural program, community outreach center or independent educator interested in hosting a virtual exchange using the output of this project? I am looking to connect with educators in Chicago, Valencia, Madrid, Latin America… really, anywhere on the globe to “host” #WeAreAfroDASH. As a hosting institution or classroom, you will receive updates on progress, themed micro-projects, and will have the opportunity for your students to interact with involved musicians via blog correspondence, Skype discussion sessions or any other proposed media outlet. I am open to suggestions in order to tailor our interaction to your classroom. ***Availability is LIMITED! Please contact as soon as possible with collaboration ideas!
  • Do you live in Chicago, New York, Boston and the surrounding areas? ATTEND the series of PHASE II Project AfroDASH Presentation/Fundraising Concerts, in mid December (date TBD)! Stay tuned via Facebook and Twitter for save-the-date city and venue announcements!
  • And, last but not least… please SHARE this campaign!! This is where HOW MANY you know comes in handy. The more people that believe in me, this project and the potential it has, the more likely it is to be successful.  I  will keep project updates and posts to a minimum, but trust that each one will be a meaningful document of campaign progress, initiatives, and a glimpse of the life that I’ve lived that has brought me to this pivotal point in my career.

From here on out, stay tuned to the campaign blog for more updates, musings, writings, and samples of work that will be undertaken in the upcoming project year. It’s such an exciting time in my development and I thank you all for being a part of it!

See you on the campaign trail!!
Much love,Erin/”Mari” 🙂