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Ruthie Foster

In the tight-knit musical community of Austin, Texas, it’s tough to get away with posturing. You either bring it, or you don’t.

If you do, word gets around. And one day, you find yourself duetting with Bonnie Raitt, or standing onstage with the Allman Brothers at New York’s Beacon Theater and trading verses with Susan Tedeschi. You might even wind up getting nominated for a Best Blues Album Grammy — three times in a row. And those nominations would be in addition to your seven Blues Music Awards, three Austin Music Awards, the Grand Prix du Disque award from the Académie Charles-Cros in France, and a Living Blues Critics’ Award for Female Blues Artist of the Year.

There’s only one Austinite with that résumé: Ruthie Foster.

The small rural town of Gause, TX had no chance of keeping the vocal powerhouse known as Ruthie Foster to itself. The worship services at her community church and influences like Mavis Staples and Aretha Franklin created the foundation of her vocal capabilities, which developed into her own sound which is unable to be contained within a single genre. That uniqueness echoes a common theme in Ruthie’s life and career — marching to the beat of her own drum.

Joining the Navy was one way for Ruthie to stake out her own path. It was during her time singing for the Navy band Pride that her love for performing became apparent. After leaving the service, Ruthie signed a development deal with Atlantic Records and moved to New York City to pursue a career as a professional musician.

A deal with a major label would seem to be a dream come true for a budding artist, but the label favored Ruthie as a pop star. In another bold move, she walked away from the deal and returned to her roots, moving back to the Lone Star State.

Returning to Texas, Ruthie solidified her place as an up-and-coming singer/songwriter and began a musical partnership with Blue Corn Music, whom she has stood beside for all her releases over the past two decades.

Now comes Ruthie’s latest — Joy Comes Back — again on Blue Corn Music. When she recorded this album, Foster wasn’t merely singing about love and loss; she was splitting a household and custody of her 5-year-old daughter. Music was her therapy.

The comfort she felt within the studio gave her the strength to pour the heartache of her family’s fracture and the cautious hope of a new love into 10 incredible tracks, nine of which are by a diverse array of writers ranging from Mississippi John Hurt and Grace Pettis (daughter of renowned folk singer Pierce Pettis), to Chris Stapleton and Black Sabbath. It takes a true artist to make an outside song their own and, if you know Ruthie, you know she succeeds. The Recording Academy might want to put its engraver on notice. Every note on Joy Comes Back confirms this truth: It’s Ruthie’s time.

At one point, producer Daniel Barrett described the album to local hero Warren Hood, who lays fiddle and mandolin on “Richland Woman Blues,” as “some blues, some folk, some soul, some rock, some gospel.” Hood replied, “Sounds like Ruthie Foster music.”

Fortune Feimster

A stand-up comedian, writer, and actor Fortune first made a name for herself on CHELSEA LATELY. Feimster currently stars in the NBC series, CHAMPIONS, as a series regular and is known for her role of "Nurse Collette" on Hulu’s THE MINDY PROJECT. Her Netflix stand-up special was released last summer and received rave reviews. Feimster has also performed stand-up on TBS’s Conan, Comedy Central’s @midnight and has her own Comedy Central half hour special.

Feimster can be seen in a fun role for the Amblin Pictures feature film, OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY in addition to the adventure comedy, DEPORTED. Amblin recently acquired BAD COP, BAD COP a feature that she co-wrote and will star in. Prior to that, Fortune co-wrote and sold two comedy pilots to ABC with the latter being produced by Tina Fey. Previously, Feimster had a recurring role on CBS’ LIFE IN PIECES and many guest appearances on hit TV shows including DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, IDIOTSITTER, WORKAHOLICS, DRUNK HISTORY, and @MIDNIGHT.

Fortune now headlines the best comedy clubs across the country and is one of comedy’s fastest rising stars.

Karen Williams

COMIC, EMCEE, HOST, MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, HUMOR EDUCATOR & DIVERSITY TRAINER

Karen Williams is the Founder and CEO of the International Institute of Humor and Healing Arts, affectionately known as HaHA Institute.

The mission of HaHA Institute is to encourage the fullest and highest activation of human potential for compassion, wisdom, and life force through the daily use of humor and healing arts, which includes stress management, nutrition, exercise, massage and healing touch, and spiritual practices.

Karen Williams has the unique distinction of being the nation's first openly lesbian black comic to include specifically lesbian material in her act. Her solo comedy special I Need a Snack filmed live in Hollywood and produced by Andrea Meyerson of AllOut Films is a LOGO TV favorite and available on DVD.

The feature-length, award-winning comedy-documentary Laughing Matters showcases Karen's star quality and includes interview clips that highlight her social activism. Other credits include the film We’re Funny That Way of HBO fame, and comedy writer and host for the TV show In the Life out of New York City.

Karen Williams is a featured comic performer with Olivia Travel, and has been since 1990. She’s been a ghostwriter at Columbia Pictures, and her humor writings appear in numerous anthologies, including Joke Stew (Andrews McMeel Publishing), Revolutionary Laughter (Crossing Press), Out in All Directions (Warner Brothers), and Out, Loud & Laughing (Random House).

Most recently, Karen was Artist-in-Residence at Winona State University in Minnesota, coaching classes as diverse as Political Science, Health Management, Theatre and Dance, and Communications. Karen also earned kudos as a highly-praised diversity trainer for Kent State University's Institute of Excellence staff and alumni at KSU, Ohio.

SPEAK UP! SPEAK OUT! LAUGH OFTEN!

Jessica Kirson

Jessica Kirson is a powerhouse on stage. She's unlike any comedian you've ever seen. She was awarded "Best Female Comic" by the MAC association in New York City, and recently accepted the Nightlife Award for "Best Stand-Up Comedian" in NYC. Jessica has a strong social media presence. Her videos online have over 30 million views.

She has been featured on Comedy Central, Bravo, NBC's Last Comic Standing (Seasons 2 and 3), two appearances on the The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, ABC’s The View, Showtime, NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, CNN, The Jim Gaffigan Show on TV Land and, Kevin Can Wait on CBS.

Jessica appeared in the movie School Dance, written and directed by Nick Cannon, starring Jim Breuer and George Lopez. She has been working with Howard Stern, writing and producing prank calls that are on Sirius/XM radio. Jessica is a cast member in Robert Deniro's new movie The Comedian. She is also a consultant, producer, and writer for the film.

Dana Goldberg

Raised by a wild pack of Jews, otherwise known as her mother and two siblings, veteran comedian Dana Goldberg is a force of nature on stage. With performances at the San Francisco International Comedy Competition, The Comedy Festival produced by TBS and HBO, and the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland; her quick wit and playful stage presence have her earning loyal fans across the country and abroad. A crowd favorite, Goldberg has become a triple threat combining her comedy, hosting, and writing talents to become one of the most sought after entertainers on the circuit. Voted one of the “Top Five Funniest Lesbians in America,” Curve magazine raves, “Goldberg is one of the brightest lights in a stellar comedy landscape.” Advocate.com named Goldberg one of the top three LGBT comedians in the nation.

In addition to headlining clubs, theaters and festivals around the country, Goldberg has performed at and emceed dozens of high profile events and has shared the national stage with luminaries such as President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton, Kerry Washington, Jennifer Lopez, John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Jennifer Hudson, Sir Elton John, Mariah Carey, Shonda Rhimes, and many more. Combining her gift of humor with humanitarian efforts, Goldberg has helped to raise over three million dollars for non-profits around the country in the fight for marriage equality, LGBT rights, women’s rights, and HIV and AIDS education and prevention.

DJ Rockaway

Born and raised in Queens, NY, DJ Rockaway has been bringing her passion and love for music to dance floors for over a decade performing for audiences in the U.S. and internationally. From nightclubs on both the east and west coasts, to private weddings and events, she is a regular DJ on Olivia cruise and resort vacations and DJ’s for national non-profit events such as NCLR, HRC and Equality California, to name a few. She is the founder of PLAY San Francisco and PLAY San Jose, which are monthly events for women who love to dance. A true New Yorker (just listen to her talk), DJ Rockaway’s unique mix of music styles – dance, hip-hop, R&B, house, club, retro – allows her to play to all who love to dance and feel the music. For DJ Rockaway, music is more than a blend of sounds, music is an experience – she wants you to feel it, live it, escape into it.

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DJ LadyRyan

Winner of the Best of the East Bay Express 2016 — Readers’ Choice for Favorite DJ, and co-founder of packed-out seasonal day party Soulovely, LadyRyan has been rocking crowds coast to coast for close to a decade.  

This diverse DJ is known for the energy exchange she shares with her crowds, mixing Breaks, Soul, Latin, Hip Hop, Funk, and Afro-beats into a meld of classic joints and new releases that build the dance floor, whether at one of her long-standing residencies at popular clubs and breweries or while headlining for major parties and events.

LadyRyan has played with and opened for artists such as George Clinton, Erykah Badu, The Internet, Foreign Exchange, Cakes Da Killa, Flying Lotus, MC Lyte, Goapele, Nina Sky, Peanut Butter Wolf, Rich Medina, and Princess Nokia. 

This traveling DJ has many accolades and upcoming events. Be sure to check her schedule to catch a vibe in a city near you!

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Aima the Dreamer

Aima the Dreamer has been rockin' crowds from Oakland to Barcelona, as a vocalist and MC with groups such as Femme Deadly Venoms, J-Boogie's Dubtronic Science, Goddess Alchemy Project, and Jazz Mafia. She has opened up for and been on the bill with such greats as Talib Kweli, Roy Ayers, Nneka, Robert Glasper, Mc Lyte, Les Nubians to name a few... Catch Aima the Dreamer hosting and promoting events in the Bay Area and beyond, as well as performing with her group Femme Deadly Venoms. Set to release their upcoming album early next year.

Jamie Granger

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Jamie Granger is a globally recognized personal trainer and fitness influencer with 13+ years of experience. She has traveled the world speaking about healthy lifestyle habits, best fitness practices, and sharing her love for life and adventure. With a goal of training and educating the individual, Granger delivers a full body and mind transformation unique to each client.

Jamie’s journey into fitness started at a very young age and really began to develop when she started studying athletic training in High School. Her love for physiology and the human body led her to studying Exercise physiology while receiving a full Division 1 basketball scholarship. Over the course of her 13 years in the industry, Granger has been able to hone in a style as unique as her adventurous upbringing. With a concept of Fuel, Move, Live, she believes that proper nutrition is the key to unlocking our greatest potential, moving to strengthen, prevent injury and enhance soft tissue function, and living adventurously while recovering purposefully. By bringing this concept to her clients she is able to provide the most well-rounded approach not just to human performance, but to living a happier and more mindful life.

After landing in Los Angeles in 2007, Granger was quickly recognized as a go-to trainer for some of Hollywood's elite. She is most known for her work with Rihanna and as a former Puma training ambassador, but has also worked with members of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, NHL, and USA Women’s Soccer.

Fareen "Far" Samji

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Fareen “Far” Samji is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, athlete, mom, and community leader.

She was born and raised in Mombasa, Kenya and came to Canada at the age of 14 to further her education. She graduated from McMaster University with degrees in Psychology and Kinesiology.

After university she postponed her career in order to play professional golf. After 4 years on the mini tours, Far retired from competition and started her entrepreneurial journey.

In 2012, she rediscovered golf again but this time in the form of the sport of Long Drive — basically, smashing it as far as possible off the tee! Far is a 5-time ILDC Canadian Women’s long drive champion and with a personal best of 334 yards. She is currently the manager of the ILDC Canadian Long Drive Team and works diligently to advocate for the sport.

Her book, Smashing the Grass Ceiling, was published in 2017 and aims to empower, motivate and inspire professional women to make meaningful connections using golf.

If you attend a clinic with Far you will leave mesmerized as to how effortlessly she moves the golf ball.

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Richelle Donigan

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Richelle Evelyn Donigan is a masterful Yoga Instructor, Life Coach, Author, and Speaker. She has been in the work and study of transformation for more than 40 years. Richelle has an extraordinary gift for creating safe empowering spaces for beginners and communities that have been traditionally underserved. She has created and led numerous retreats and workshops focusing on LGBTQ Communities. Her Butch Yoga workshops allow Butch Identified women to come as they are, listen and be heard by other Butches and support one another as they share and practice together. Richelle’s Vision Workshops are life changing. You will walk out with powerful clarity and strategies to create a life that you absolutely LOVE. A consummate teacher, Richelle embodies wellness and is dedicated to uplifting community with the profound healing practices of Yoga & Vision.

Amy Jo Goddard

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Amy Jo Goddard earned her Master's degree in Human Sexuality Education from New York University and has 20+ years of experience in the sexuality field. As a sought-after speaker and teacher, Amy Jo travels to colleges, communities, and conferences speaking about sexuality and sexual empowerment and taught college students for 15 years at CUNY. She delivered her TEDx talk “Owning Your Sexual Power” in Napa Valley, was named one of GO! Magazine’s “100 Women We Love” and one of Kinkly’s “100 Sex Blogging Superhereos.” Amy Jo teaches several unique sexual empowerment intensives and offers sexuality retreats, while maintaining a private practice. She is the author of Woman on Fire: Nine Elements to Wake up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power and Sexual Intelligence and coauthor of Lesbian Sex Secrets for Men (both Penguin Random House). You can find her online, writing about practical, real-world sexuality and evolved relationships at amyjogoddard.com.

Abby Bergman

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Abby Bergman is a Triple Crown open-water marathon swimmer and behavioral science researcher from Southern California, currently completing her Master’s Degree in Psychology at The University of Chicago, where she is studying motivation, endurance, and goal setting. When she is not studying or doing research, she can usually be found swimming, prepping for her next pool race or open-water swim. Abby has spent five summers working as an open water lifeguard and has been teaching swimming lessons since 2013. Abby is a proud 2nd generation lesbian and would like to thank her moms for their unconditional support.

Fredrika Keefer

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Fredrika is a Hip Hop, Ballet, Contemporary and Traditional Japanese Taiko drumming teacher. Fredrika takes the responsibilities of an educator very seriously and works hard to develop mutual trust and respect with her students. After earning her diploma from San Francisco School of the Arts, she immediately pursued a career in dance education and started (at age 17) to teach, in the youth program, at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco, CA. Her teaching experiences have exposed her to diverse populations and art forms: from preschoolers to adults, from new to experienced aspiring dancers.

Fredrika’s experiences as a teacher and performer have taken her to New York, Lebanon, Egypt, St. Maarteen, Chile, Havana, and Santiago, Cuba. She is regular performer with Dance Brigade, Alayo Dance Company, and has performed and toured with Holly Near.

She feels honored and excited to be on Olivia’s staff once again and partnering with the Mind, Body, and Spirit team.

Mariasha Michelle

MIND | BODY | SPIRIT PROGRAM PRESENTER

Mariasha is a transformational Light Energy Worker, Reiki Master, and Holistic Bodyworker. She has been practicing and developing healing arts for over 20 years. Her craft is rooted in maintaining multidimensional balance within that sustains harmony and reverberates throughout. Using principles of mindful alchemy, several modalities of energetic manipulation, and metabolic breathing, positive transformation is inevitable for all who are open. Her focus on awareness of self and deliberate intention setting manifests bold healing spaces for all bodies, backgrounds, and experiences; including trauma. She is honored to work closely with Trans communities, Queer communities of color, and Deaf communities, both in her private practice and at Freed Bodyworks, the radically inclusive wellness center in Washington, DC. Mariasha is a lifetime learner who knows the power of the body, mind, and spirit’s natural healing abilities; her work seeks to validate this knowledge in every member of our human community. Harnessing the healing powers of Earth that are accessible to ALL, Mariasha is excited to offer teachings that will fortify these connections, release stagnant energies, and purify our channels to transformation.

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