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  • Writer's pictureIsaiah Ellsberry

Representation Matters: 'Melodies by Candlelight' Showcases Talented Black Women

On March 4th, I had the privilege of attending the quarterly concert series known as “Melodies by Candlelight”, a concert that highlights talented black women in theatre. The concert took place at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre and was sponsored by Ayana Washington, founder of Book Black Women Incorporated in collaboration with, the host of the evening, Cerina Johnson founder of No Longer Bound Entertainment.

Headliner Melrose Johnson blew the entire audience away with her performance and vocals alone. She sang an array of songs from multiple genres including R&B, soul, jazz, and of course popular show tunes. Melrose gave her all from the moment she stepped on the stage until the moment she walked off. The audience loved her and the space of vulnerability she provided. Throughout each moment of the show, you felt her true personality. Not to mention, she was also accompanied by other talented singers like Ayana Washington, Alannah McMillian, DeNesha Jones, as well as Jerrita Walters playing the trumpet.


I was fortunate enough to sit down with the curator of the event and ask her some questions: Tell us about what Book Black Women represents and your vision for this brand?

Ayana: As a black woman in the arts, I know first-hand how tough it can be. We (black women) are typically copied and looked over in everyday life, but in the field of arts, it’s magnified. The black woman is the blueprint for culture but we are never given our flowers.

"Book black women" was a phrase of frustration expressed by a friend. I was in a place of helplessness and I could not understand that if the world loves the essence of us black women, why are we not being booked? The next day, I realized I didn’t want to fight for a seat at the table anymore. I wanted to create my own. I wanted to see a black female lead opera. I wanted to see a Q&A panel about mental health led by black female therapists and I was more than willing to curate it.

Book Black Women Inc. will be an entity that will showcase every type of black woman in various spaces. Artists, medical professionals, teachers, politicians, and many more.

What advice would you give to someone in the community who has dreams of being where you are today?

Ayana: I would say decide what you want your brand to say about you, consider/decide your boundaries and stick to them, be kind, use discernment, and find peace with saying no. Those five things will help guide you through!

What can people expect from you in the future?

Ayana: People can expect more events! Far beyond concerts! They can also expect collaborations with prominent figures!


This event is one of many to come and we can’t wait to see what Ayana has in store. For more information about this occasion or upcoming events, see the information below:

Ayana Washington | Cerina Johnson

Book Black Women Inc | No Longer Bound Entertainment |

910.853.9751 | 804.994.8804

Poetic Zae

Writer + Editor

FAYNC Magazine

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