From the fros to the fits to the featured artists that defined Vibes and Visuals Volume V, the air overflowed with the kind of liberating exuberance that my younger self would’ve only believed existed in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and more—but definitely not my Memphis.
Chassidy Jade, Crown Me Royal Labs and V&V Founder, knows all too well about how much the power of place plays into the launch of a new venture. After all, she moved from Miami, Florida to Memphis, TN in 2018 to do, here, what felt almost arduous to do there.
“Art is a bigger conversation here than it is in Miami, especially when it comes down to Black artists in particular” Jade said.
Plus, the crossover between her Memphis and Caribbean backgrounds was cause for her to forge a function that represented her roots.
“You would think that Caribbean and Hispanic artists would control Miami, but they don’t,” Jade said. “When you go to shows like Art Basel, you’re not seeing artists from the community. The entertainment at the bars and restaurants, they aren’t really Cuban. There’s a large part of that local culture missing. But in Memphis, you can control your own city. Our artists are being seen because there’s an infrastructure here that shows them off.”
Jade’s work as a full-time artiste who specializes in filmmaking, producing, and the graphic arts has thrust her into the limelight. Her client base headlines household names like Steve Harvey and Gucci Mane; major brands such as Armani Exchange and Warner Brothers—and she was the first Black woman to hold a Senior Video Editor position for the NBA.
Between her Hood Film Junkie Series that commemorates the culture through indie films and classic cars—or the Vibes and Visuals exhibitions that merge a medley of masteries—she curates experiences that epitomize the dexterity our local creatives display.
“It all started when I was in the process of releasing my first film, Brown Ballerina, in 2015,” Jade said. “Instead of just just hosting a film screening, I wanted to organize an expo that would mix up the whole definition of what an art show is.”
There are painters whose creations exist on canvases alongside those who use living bodies as their blank page. There are ballet dancers gracefully gliding across the floor while powerful pole dancers take to the sky. Poets provide the rhythm to which a potter’s wheel spins as they muddy their hands to make mugs and more.
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“In Memphis, you can control your own city. Our artists are being seen because there’s an infrastructure here that shows them off.”
These dynamic forums aren’t the only efforts that Jade has implemented to steward advocacy for Black artists.
In 2020, she established the Royal Eye Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides high school and collegiate people of color who are interested in entering the film industry with internship opportunities and resources. We’re talking scholarships, portfolio support, free laptops, camera equipment, etc.
She’s also in the process of launching an all-female post-production editing company, in addition to bringing a new Black film festival to Memphis—dates TBA.
“I’m just tired of being the only Black person or the only woman in the room; when, here we are—in these spaces—and can help others along their way. The only way we are going to get this city on foot is if we start with education, and give people resources and jobs; so they won’t leave, or if they leave, they know they can come back home and make opportunities for themselves.”
Memphis is a metropolis that has propelled many, and thanks to those like Jade, that trend will continue.