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Ariele Williams, a University of Georgia senior, poses for a portrait outside the Miller Learning Center in Athens, Georgia on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. Williams is the founder and president of Dope Artist Association that works with local DJs, rappers, and singers. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

DOPE Artist Association started in the spring 2019 semester after Ariele Williams, a senior consumer economics major and DOPE’s president, decided she wanted to “get back into music” after she transferred to University of Georgia from Georgia Gwinnett College.

DOPE stands for development, opportunity, performance and empowerment, and the club focuses on the artistry and performance side of music while giving club members a platform to showcase their talent in front of the student body, Williams said.

Right now, most of the DOPE’s members are rappers and producers, however, everyone is welcome to join the club.

“I would love to get R&B singers [and] indie singers,” Williams said. “I think we have a couple of them now but there’s not enough of them.”

A push to gain more singers is important to Williams because she said during the events, some of the current singers feel left out because the majority of other performers are rappers.

Junior comparative literature major, Lorena Limongi, is one of the art-rock and pop backing musicians at DOPE.

Even though Limongi doesn’t perform as a main act through the organization, Limongi feels the provided workshops have benefitted her creativity because of the collaborative atmosphere.

“I think it’s eye-opening because artists are very selfish when it comes to their own craft,” Limongi said. “But when you get into a space where artists are all learning there’s consensuality that nobody’s going to steal your stuff.”

The organization holds multiple workshops a semester. The most recent workshop was at the Miller Learning Center’s digital media lab. Half of the group worked on songwriting and freestyle, where group members gave each other tips on how to improve. On the other side of the lab, the producers were teaching other members how to use the software, according to Frank Macharia, a senior psychology major and DOPE’s treasurer.

The executive board is very focused on the needs of its members and the workshops are a great way to do that. In addition,Williams would also like for the club to be a platform where the artists can book performances and learn how to brand themselves. In order to do that, Williams has focused on branding the organization.

“I’ve been working really closely with my director of marketing and we’re going to try and push our brand,” Williams said. “Once we get the name out there and our brand holds weight, it’ll facilitate [the artists] to get out there more.”

In the meantime, DOPE members performed at a University Union Dawgs After Dark event last spring and at a collaborative event with Diva Dawgs this fall. Next semester, the club has plans for a cypher, or freestyle, showcase. The group also plans on hosting a panel of industry leaders in the music business, most likely from Athens, Williams said.

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