Jonathan saraga

Trumpeter, composer and Doctor of Musical Arts, Jonathan Saraga, has received thirty international musical awards, grants and/or commissions over the past fifteen years. He won the International Trumpet Guild Jazz Solo Competition in 2007 and competed as a finalist in the 2009 Carmine Caruso International Jazz Trumpet Solo Competition. He has been selected for four intensive and/or residency programs including the 2011 School for Improvisational Music Summer Intensive Program, the 2015 Banff International Summer Intensive Program in Jazz and Creative Music, the 2019 Banff Early Fall Musicians in Residence program and the 2021 Chashama chaNorth Artist in Residence program. Additional residency related accolades include finalist status in the 2021 Haleakala National Park Artist in Residence program and waitlist status for the 2021 Millay Colony of the Art’s Core Residency program. Jonathan has also competed as a finalist in three jazz trumpet vacancy auditions: the 2011 Juilliard Artist Diploma program, the 2020 Afro-Latin Jazz  Orchestra’s 4th trumpet vacancy and the 2021 U.S. Navy Band Commodores’ jazz trumpet  vacancy.  

Jonathan received the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Award in 2016, was selected  as a finalist in the 2019 Chamber Music America New Jazz Work’s grant competition, as a semi finalist in the 2021 Unsigned Only Music Competition and received a total of five Semi-Finalist  selections and one Honorable-Mention selection in the International Songwriting Competition between 2016 and 2017. In 2020, Saraga was chosen to present at the Association for Popular  Music Education conference in Edinburgh Scotland, and at the International Society for  Improvised Music conference in Melbourne, Australia. He has received Outstanding  Performance and Outstanding Arrangement Downbeat Student Music Awards (2020 & 2021)  and was selected to participate in the 2020/21 BMI Jazz Composers Workshop. Jonathan has  also received commissions and/or grants from the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and  Composers, United States Artists, the University of Colorado Boulder Music Advisory Board, the  Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the Actors Fund/Local 802 Musicians Union, the  Jazz Foundation of America, the Afro-Latin Jazz Alliance, and the Recording Academy/MusiCares.  

Dr. Saraga has played in internationally acclaimed/award-winning ensembles such as the Maria  Schneider Jazz Orchestra, Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Birdland Big Band, The  Mingus Big Band, Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band, the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, and the  Jimmy Greene Big Band, Remy Le Boeuf’s Assembly of Shadows Orchestra, the Terraza Big  Band, the Valery Ponomarev Big Band, Manuel Valera’s New Cuban Express Big Band, the  Jihye Lee Jazz Orchestra, the Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra and the Migiwa  Miyajima Jazz Orchestra, as well as ensembles led by Tyshawn Sorey, Steve Coleman, and  Henry Cole.

Website: www.jonathansaraga.com

Wendell James

Wendell James is 37 years old and has two sons. He won full custody of his sons when he was in his 20’s and joined the military to make sure he could provide for them. Wendell served the military as an intelligence analyst for eight years and then was hired as a correctional officer. While working for the government he started multiple businesses in his spare time, dreamt of success and searched for a career he would love.

Wendell’s dream began to come true when he started a modeling agency called GVA. He and his music artist friend met celebrities who asked them if they could find girls to hang out with, and he soon found out that the cost of photoshoots for the models was more than he could afford. In 2018 Wendell sold his motorcycle and bought a camera so he could take all the pictures he needed himself.

His business took off after he bought the camera, so he purchased some high end video equipment, but found out he couldn’t figure out how to use it properly. Wendell became depressed, and reached out to a friend in New Mexico who works in digital media to ask for help. His friend invited Wendell to learn the basics of video shooting and editing so he could use his new equipment. He came back from New Mexico with the knowledge he needed to continue building his dream business, and he built an office where he spent many long days applying what he learned and developed his skills in videography. About three months later he was hired to work with Allstate, and within two years he opened his own video production studio where he produces corporate and music videos as the founder of GVA Digital Media LLC. He says that when he meets other videographers they are shocked and amazed at how fast he learned his craft and opened his studio.

Wendell has a lot of jaw dropping ideas and concepts, and he likes to pitch at least five of them at a time. Writing a book and making his life story into a short video series are just a couple of them. He believes that if you really want to do something, you should do it right away so you don’t look back and say to yourself, “man I wish I would have done that when I was younger.” He also says that he has a million dollar mindset, and God has given him so many signs. Even on his worst days when he felt like quitting he would be blessed.

During the COVID – 19 shut down in 2020 Wendell fully revamped his business. GVA Digital Media, LLC. will change its name to GVA Films in 2021 to mark the company’s transition into the movie and film industry, and Wendell resigned from his job as a correctional officer in March of 2021 to take a leap of faith. He said he was scared to quit his job, but he felt that God was telling him it was his turn to make a move. Wendell is now attending Digital Film Academy in New York and specializes in producing and directing movies and short films. He will be filming his first screenplay in July of 2021, and he is already writing his second screenplay. Collaborating with actors, writers, distributors, and the “who’s who” of Hollywood and the movie industry are what he hopes to do next.

Facebook: GVA Digital Media LLC

Instagram: @gva_digital_mediallc

YouTube: GVA Digital Media LLC

Joseph Steve

Joseph Aimanesi Steve graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine and Applied Arts. He is a Nigerian visual artist with over 10 years of experience in handmade illustration, drawing, painting, creative writing, poetry and story writing. His art is expressive and sometimes realistic or surrealistic. His art captures pure energies, different atmospheres and philosophies. He is quite versatile but his focus is mainly on projecting and documenting the past, present and the future of Blacks through Afro Futurism.  He has participated in a few exhibitions and competitions in Nigeria.

Joseph Steve

Instagram: @the_joseph_steve/