Pensacola resident Regina Baker always has enjoyed music and the business side of the industry.
"I've always loved the arts, and I love so many elements of the arts and even the business," said Baker, a producer known as Mvtha Cval. "The business is a headache, but there's an aesthetic to it, there's a divine connection in the relationship building that happens between creators and visionaries."
That's why Baker created Mvtha's Kitchen, a brand consulting production company to bridge the gap between artists and a venue for the audience. She wants to help artists become the best entertainers possible and works with them on how to put on events, use social media, release music independently and gain more exposure.
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One of these events is Gumbo Music, which will be held Dec. 17 at Signature Event Lounge in Pensacola. According to Baker, the music event with showcase "local artists with a hip-hop and soul direction, sound and style."
It will feature various local musicians such as Faithe, Rashawn Stallworth and Jamal Steele, all who embody a hip-hop and soul style to their music.
The main act of the event will be New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks. He last performed at Pensacola at the Vinyl Music Hall, opening for the award-winning Tank and the Bangas in 2019. Now he is back to perform at Gumbo Music and said he loves the atmosphere Pensacola provides.
"It's always dope to be surrounded by dope MCs, dope artists and Pensacola kinda provides that," Banks said. "Everywhere I turn, I'm seeing somebody that's really, really dope. Most of the state of Florida is really dope. When it comes to underground hip-hop, cats really get busy so I love Pensacola for that."
Banks has been gaining fame these past few years as he was named on Complex's 10 upcoming New Orleans MCs and has been featured on The Fader, Hip HopDx and Okayplayer. He has collaborated with The Soul Rebels on their song "Greatness," which has been featured in the 2020 NCAA college basketball campaign, and his song "UnderGodCentral" was on Netflix's 2017 film "Burning Sands."
One of his first hit projects, "The Beautiful," was released March 20, 2017, and charted No. 12 on iTunes' rap/hip-hop charts and No. 79 on the Billboard's "HeatSeeker" chart. Banks created the album in memory of his brother, Orlandas Banks, who suffered from schizophrenia before taking his own life March 20, 2014.
While Banks said he does not consider himself a "mental health rapper," he wanted to include information pertaining to mental health in his work.
"I kind of realized that a lot of people have suffered from mental health issues to whatever degree like anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and so forth," Banks said. "And that same kind of research that I was doing for the album, I realized I saw similarities in some of the things that I go through, that I suffer from."
Since making the album, Banks has spoken at a number of events, including at middle and high schools in the Black community, to raise awareness of mental health.
Baker wants to help underground artists like Banks get the recognition they deserve for their music. She grew up in Northwest Florida and wants the Gumbo Music event to give a platform for artists trying to find an audience who will support them.
"I think the one thing that the artists here in the city need is for more people to support the art because it's good art, it's just independent art," Baker said. "You have to think these are the people who chose not to leave their families behind and stay on the road full-time. Instead of having part of their lives away, they're staying home. They're with their families, they're doing these shows, creating events, and they're creating experiences."
Gumbo Music will be held Dec. 17 at Signature Event Lounge, 5330 Mobile Highway in Pensacola. Advanced tickets will be $15 and can be purchased at mvthaskitchen.com.
This article originally appeared on Pensacola News Journal: New Orleans rapper Alfred Banks to headline Gumbo Music in Pensacola