I am.

Miyelo Music Festival debuts in Tipp City

By Tim Walker

Photo: Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Will Hoge will perform at the Miyelo Music Festival in Tipp City on July 18 photo: Rykodisc

Kelechukwu “Chu” Oparah, one of the organizers of Tipp City’s upcoming Miyelo Music Festival, couldn’t be happier or more excited. The festival is only a week away, and like so many on a mission, the longer you talk to him the more infectious his excitement becomes.

“This is a party with a purpose,” he tells Dayton City Paper. “We wanted to broaden our scope. We wanted this to be less a little ‘concert in the street,’ where people come and hang out for a few hours and drink a lot. Instead, we decided to turn this into a more family-friendly music festival where the whole family can come out, not just a few select people. We just wanted to broaden the scope. But in making it family-friendly we didn’t have to sacrifice the quality of music at all … quite the opposite. We have a slate of performers that we’re really, really proud of.”

As stated in the Miyelo Mission Statement, “The music we listen to is a mix of rock, country and Midwest folk, a unique blend of music we like to call Americana.”

After a brief pause Oparah continues, “These are not upstarts by any means … people who are just thinking about being musicians. These are full-time professional musicians who are playing the festival, and they all agree with the mission of doing something positive for people who are suffering.”

The Miyelo Music Festival, which will be held in Tipp City on July 18, is a festival with a purpose. In addition to bringing nationally-known touring acts such as Will Hoge, Jonathan Jackson + Enation and The Donnie Reis Band to town for the event, the day-long festival will also be raising money and spreading the word about local service organization the Pink Ribbon Girls.

“The Pink Ribbon Girls see to the practical needs of families going through breast cancer treatment … the patients who are going through treatment for this terrible disease,” Oparah says. They have an office right here in Tipp City for the Dayton region, and the executive director of that organization, Heather Salazar, is a close family friend and has been for a long time. They have fundraisers here and there throughout the year, and they always accept donations to help finance the organization, but we wanted to do something different. We thought, ‘Let’s dream big. What is the coolest thing that we can do to help, using the relationships we’ve built over the last decade in the industry?’”

The music at the festival, which was organized by Trebius Promotions along with TWELVE3South Studios, begins at 11:30 a.m. on July 18. The 11 hours of music, on three separate stages, promise acts that will please music lovers of all types. Will Hoge is a Grammy-nominated country singer and songwriter from Nashville who has released nine albums of country music, the first back in 1997. Jonathan Jackson + Enation is an indie rock band that just released a fourth album. Jackson is featured on the ABC show “Nashville,” and the song “Ride,” from the band’s 2004 album Identity Theft, was used as the theme song for “Riding the Bullet,” a film starring Jackson and based on the Stephen King novella. Kris Allen is the winner of “American Idol” season eight, and is a platinum-selling recording artist. Donnie Reis is a multi-instrumentalist and an accomplished composer, the chief producer for TWELVE3South, and a U.S. Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rounding out the lineup of over 20 performers are acts such as Neulore, Erick Baker, Brandon Chase and Ben Bradford.

But what exactly does “Miyelo” mean?

“Well,” Oparah says. “It’s a Lakota word.”

I then ask Oparah if is he is a Native.

“I’m native to somewhere,” he laughs. “But no, I’m not a Native American. But the Lakota lived here. Pronounced ‘my-EL-oh,’ the word loosely translates to ‘I am’ in the language of the Lakota. Miyelo is a statement of confidence, something that all ventures require as the price of admission. We took it as a statement of affirmation, of possibilities being endless.”

The Miyelo Music Festival will be held on Saturday, July 18 in Tipp City. Music starts at 11:30 a.m. To purchase tickets or view a schedule of the performers and for other information, please visit miyelomusicfest.com.


Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Tim Walker is 51 and a writer, DJ, and local musician. He lives with his wife and their two children in Dayton, where he enjoys pizza, jazz, and black T-shirts. Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Walker at TimWalker@DaytonCityPaper.com

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