WEDU Arts Plus


Episode 923

Tony and Tiffany Ashfield of Land O'Lakes recall how a shared passion for beatboxing led to love. Detroit artist Sabrena Nelson reflects on the world around her in her meaningful works of art. Artist Caroline Guyer makes eye-catching leather masks inspired by animals in Key Largo. Michigan singer-songwriter Olivia Millerschin blends genres to create a soulful style.

AIRED: December 03, 2020 | 0:26:45

(bright upbeat music)

- [Informer] This is a production of WEDU PBS,

Tampa, ST. Petersburg, Sarasota.

Major funding for WEDU Arts plus is provided

through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts loving donor

who encourages others

to support your PBS station WEDU

and by the Pinellas Community Foundation.

Giving humanity a hand since 1969.

- [Dalia] In this edition of WEDU Arts Plus

a local couple shares how beatboxing led to love.

- Beatboxing was the first form of creativity I ever had.

And it was probably the first thing I did

where I genuinely felt I was good at it

- [Dalia] An impactful mixed media artist.

- What it feels like to do that.

Being able to visually communicate,

how I feel about what's happening in the world.

- [Dalia] One of a kind leather masks.

- I have people who wear them,

people who hang them on the walls

and then people who do both,

will just leave them on the wall

until they have a masquerade event to go to.

- (Dalia) And a young singer song writer's view on life.

- What I hope that the audience can take from it

is I hope they can somehow relate it to their own lives.

The new album, Look Both Ways

is all about seeing the good side

to something that isn't always good.

And some people think that's dark,

but I think that's the complete opposite.

- It's all coming up next on WEDU Arts Plus

(whimsical upbeat music)

Hello, I'm Dalia Colon.

And this is WEDU Arts Plus.

Tony and Tiffany Ashfield were just teenagers

when they were brought together across the Atlantic ocean

by their shared love of beatboxing.

In this first segment

the Land O'lakes couple demonstrates their talent

and explains how the art form

can help boost anyone's confidence.

(dramatic beatboxing)

- Hi, my name's Tiffany AKA Lucky monkey.

I am a beatboxer.

Been beatboxing since 2006.

- My name is Anthony, AKA Fat Tony.

I've also been beatboxing since 2006

and that's actually how we both met.

You had sugar in your coffee this morning.

(people laughing)

So way, way back in the day

there was a website called,

which still exists mostly as articles and videos.

Way back in the day it was literally just a forum,

just a message board for beatboxers to meet.

And there was a Ventrilo server

which was like an audio chat program.

I was hanging out in there one day and she heard me speak

and immediately fell in love with my accent.

(lively beatboxing)

♪ This is Lucky Monkey ♪

♪ And Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat Fat Tony ♪

(jaunty beatboxing)

There was a beatboxer called Shlomo

who did a set on a TV show in the UK.

I think it was called Tonight with Jools Holland.

And he was this tall, very very skinny, nerdy white guy.

And he just blew my mind.

And I seriously saw that

and I was like, Oh, if he can do it I can do it.

- I actually came across a video on

I think it was Myspace back in the day,

there was just a guy on there

that was doing beatboxing and it intrigued me.

I was like, what?

How is he doing that with his mouth?

So it blew my mind

and I just started searching more about it.

And that's actually how I found

- It definitely used to be rarer,

like I think since

it kind of became a little bit more mainstream

like we had beatboxers

on America's Got Talent,

Pentatonix of course,

kind of put in acapella and music in the spotlight.

So I think people are a little less surprised by it.

But you can still

catch people off guard with certain things

like when we do the old cricket beat.

(man chirping)

I don't think I've ever done that

and not had somebody be like, what are you doing?

How did you do that?

(lively upbeat beatboxing)

♪ I'm gonna take my horse ♪

♪ to the old town road ♪

♪I'm gonna ride ♪

♪ 'til I can't no more ♪

- I still get that reaction if I do it like at work

or just randomly for people

they'll still be like, I didn't know you could do that.

And for me being female too,

I feel like that has a lot to do with it.

'Cause it's a really male dominated scene.

I've been a singer pretty much all my life.

So music has been like my go to for what I enjoy doing.

♪ They can't tell me nothing ♪

♪ I'm gonna take my horse ♪

(dramatic beatboxing)

- I literally never did anything musical when I was younger.

I didn't grow up with too many friends.

I was definitely not popular in high school.

I got picked on quite a bit cause I was a dweeb.

I have no qualms of saying it.

♪ I'm gonna take my horse ♪

♪ to the old town road ♪

♪ I'm gonna ride till I can't no more ♪

And for me beatboxing was

the first form of creativity I ever had.

And it was probably the first thing I did

where I genuinely felt

I was good at it.

And that was why eventually I went on

to creating lessons and teaching it

because I wanted other people,

who maybe had the same feelings I did

when they were in school

or even as an adult.

And just I didn't really feel

like they had anything to do.

We're able to do it

because there's a $0 cost to get into beatboxing.

You literally just need your mouth.

All right, so the three most basic sounds

of beatboxing are gonna be,

a bass drum or a kick drum b b b b,

a high hat t t t t t t t t

and a simple snare, or in this case, a rim shot k k k k

For a bass drum,

it's almost like trying to surprise somebody

by yelling, boo!

as loud as you can

but just removing the oo's

all you get is that explosive b b b b

a hi-hat is so simple

it doesn't even need an explanation.

You go t

it's almost like tutting at somebody

and then to do an open hi-hat

you just add a short hiss.

So ts ts ts

and for a rim shot

just make a /k/ sound

from the back of your throat.

K k k

And then you can pull it together

into a really simple beat like

(man beatboxing)

You are now a beatboxer.

I actually wrote a children's book

about a beatboxing bear a few years ago called "Toot"

which was a collaborative effort

with one of my favorite people

on the entire planet of beatboxing

named Track IX from California.

And we wrote a little cute kid's book

about Toot a bear

who beatboxes with her friends

and they beatboxed together.

And encourages the kids

and the parents who are reading it

to kind of take part

in making the silly sound effects which...

It's a lot of fun.

My kid actually loves reading it.

And that is pretty much the stamp of approval that I need.

- So when we first got pregnant with our daughter, Emily

we were trying to think

of a really creative way to announce that.

And since both of us are beatboxers,

we were like what better way

to make an announcement doing it beatboxing?

(energetic beatboxing)

(gentle beatboxing)

- Once you have two kids running around

it becomes incredibly hard

to keep any kind of performance career going

but we still do it very, very casually.

We still beatbox constantly around the house.

And the kids beatbox as well.

Cause for a lot of babies in particular

like those kinds of sounds are just much easier to learn

than the kind of delicate motor skills needed

to form like actual words

♪ W E D U Arts Plus ♪

And even though you can get microphones and audio equipment

and you can use computers,

to use YouTube tutorials.

You don't need that kind of stuff,

you just need you.

I think that's very special and unique in terms of hobbies.

(jolly beatboxing)

(logo chiming)

- You can find Tony's beatboxing tutorials


Artist, Sabrina Nelson reflects

on the world around her

in meaningful works of art.

We head to Detroit, Michigan

to get an inside, look at her exhibition.

Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird?

(gentle piano music)

- I think my medicine is art.

My language is art.

(piano music)

I think the term artist means

to be responsible for what's happening in the world.

How you see it,

how you record it,

how you make things that are a result

of what you are trying to say,

whether it's a question you're answering

or a story you're trying to tell

or here's something I need to make

because it's just embedded in me.

Like I have to make something.

Detroit is embedded in who I am.

I've been here all my life

since the rebellion in 1967,

that's when I was born.

And so everything around me becomes a part of the story

I'm trying to tell

or the question I'm trying to ask

My superpower is being able

to visually communicate how I feel

about what's happening in the world.

Nina Simone says, "If you're gonna be an artist

it's your duty to reflect what's happening in the world."

And in the world that I live in

from the time I can remember remembering

there's always trauma and hurt and pain,

and I'm not always talking about that

but you can't ignore it.

And on this day,

I think about the lives that are lost,

that are constant

like coming at me through different mediums.

And so I'm thinking about homicides and deaths

of young people and how I'm affected by it.

But I'm talking about death

where people aren't considered people,

like you don't matter,

you're not important,

so I'm just going to take your life.

I don't care how old you are,

I don't care who you belong to.

And when that person is missing from our communities

not just the blood family is affected,

we are all and we should all be concerned.

You know, a life is a life.

A human is a human.

And so in this work, I'm talking about that pain.

The name of the exhibition is Why You Wanna Fly Blackbird?

And I got it from a Nina Simone song

who talks about black women.

Like how dare you try and be happy in your life?

How dare you not expect pain?

pain is gonna come.

You have to move through it

and you have to live, but pain will be here.

I didn't want the colors to be so seductive

that it draws you in as pretty.

like I don't like the idea of my work being pretty.

I want it to be impactful.

I want it to be deeper than just what you see.

And I wanted it to be large enough to have some girth to it.

So these particular pieces are very large drawings.

They're also reliquaries if you will.

So they talk about like the body.

The housing of the bodies that we have,

like the home.

And then what it's like to have a nest with no eggs in it.

Thinking about the empty nest of children who never return.

You know, I don't care how old they are

they never can return.

So I'm just talking about the darkness in that

and expressing it with the most eloquence that I can.

The cages will represent empty homes.

That can be the home that they lived in.

That can be the community that they lived in.

How do you deal with that?

You know, that room that's empty.

And so when we lose these people

that are not treated with value out of our communities.

How do you deal with that?

So La van is helping me on the dresses.

Cause I want to make dresses

that will hang from the ceiling.

Just above the patrons heads

but the bird cages will be the empty rooms

underneath the dresses.

And so I'm asking him to help me figure out,

how I'm gonna make the dresses,

which are made out of Japanese rice paper.

So that they can be sheer enough

that the bird cages can go underneath them,

and the patrons can see them with the lighting.

And hopefully they have the impact

that's in my head and in my heart.

I want people to pay attention to it

and to be more empathetic with others lives.

If you see something happening

and you can do something about it,

why wouldn't you?

And so when I look at the homicide rates across the country

they're incredibly high for African-American, indigenous

and also Latin American children.

And so this is all I can say and do about it.

I want someone to know that I care,

even though they're not my children.

I care that they're missing that they're gone

that there's, you know,

somebody should think about doing something about it.

The motion of movement when

I'm making these things.

Like when I did the nest here,

the motion of drawing and drawing and drawing.

That obsession of movement

and what it feels like to do that.

These movements that we do

over and over become very much ritual.

Maybe these are all prayers visually.

To say, I'm sorry that your life has gone.

But I wanna say that you meant something

that you were important.

Every artist wants someone

to look at their work for a long time

and I didn't want to make it so obvious and abstruse

where it's like, you see people getting killed

but I think the work and the drawings

and some of the paintings that I'm using can be seductive.

So I want people to make sure

that they walk away with knowing that

I'm in a world

I am affected by it.

And don't just listen to the news and be in the world

and not really take part in what's happening.

Think about what your voice is and what your superpower is

and see what you can do to help.

I wanna say something that's important.

And I wanna leave this world

with something that someone's learned from me.

My work might be sensual to draw you in

and then it's gonna slap you a little bit.

And that's what I hope I show.

(gentle piano music)

(logo chiming)

- To see more of her artwork


Key Largo artist, Caroline Guyer,

makes eye catching leather masks inspired by animals.

See how Guyer transforms leather into wearable art.

(gentle ethereal flute music)

- My name is Caroline Guyer

and I'm a leather worker

who specializes in making theatrical costume leather masks.

And I live in beautiful key Largo, Florida

in the Florida keys.

(gentle airy music)

It was clear from the beginning

that whatever kind of

creative artistic aesthetic is in my head

translates well into a leather mask.

(upbeat music)

I love studying the animal faces, you know

I like looking at animals,

so I'm happy to study them

and see if I can make a mask.

And at the same time

that is what people seem to want more and more of.

I'll never forget a customer asking me to do a rabbit

and you know, struggling with it at first

trying to figure out how to do these animal faces.

And I did the rabbit and people loved it.

There seems to be like a creepy rabbit mask thing

that's almost like

a modern archetypal collective unconscious kind of thing.

Where people really respond

to creepy white rabbit masks.

Over and over again

regardless of what movie they've been in.

They're in movies again and again and again.

So I find that is something

that kind of persists year after year.

And then of course, wolves are always popular.

And then I'll have people that'll be like,

"Oh, can you do one of my dog?"

(whimsical upbeat music)

I have people who wear them,

people who hang them on the walls.

And then people who do both,

will just leave them on the wall

until they have a masquerade event to go to.

But I certainly sell

to people who are only going to wear them

and people who are only going to hide them on the wall.

(gentle airy music)

I create the masks entirely by hand.

If I have an idea of a math that I want to make

and I don't have a pattern yet for it,

and over 20 years, I've got hundreds of patterns,

I'll research the design and create a pattern.

And then I trace that onto the piece of leather,

cut it out with a blade.

And then I wet that piece of leather, blot it dry.

And then I wait until the leather gets

to just the right point for it to be molded.

And that varies from piece of leather to piece of leather.

And also depending on the humidity in the air,

stuff like that.

When the leather is at the right point to be molded,

I sit there and I mold it all by hand.

And then I set that on the floor

or on a towel or something

let it dry overnight.

(gentle airy music)

Most masks I'll do an airbrush base.

So I go outside and I airbrush the base on.

And then after that's dry, I buff it up a little bit

and I add some detail, hand painting with acrylic paints.

And then when that's dry I brush on an acrylic sealer.

And when that's dry,

I sand the back so it's comfortable.

I add some felt padding, if that's needed.

Some masks need it some don't.

And then I'll put on ribbon ties or so on elastic straps.

And then it's ready to go.

I work very hard to make them comfortable.

And that is one of the hallmarks in my masks.

And that is why a lot of the groups, theater groups

dance companies come back again and again for my masks

because you could put them on

and almost forget about them,

is my goal anyway.

And that is one of the nice things about the leather

is they tend to just breathe a little bit more

than a synthetic mask.

(bright upbeat music)

I could just make goat masks all day long.

And I have a dream project that I need to do eventually,

where I want to do all the different breeds of goats.

You know, cause there's so many different kinds of goats

and I would love to do

a beautiful mask representational of each one.

People who buy masks seem to enjoy goat masks.

And then it's always fun to do something like a leopard

or a mountain lion.

You know, if it comes out good,

that's the kind of mask where I'm like,

Ooh, look what I made, that's kind of pretty,

you know, just like the animal is.

(upbeat music)

(logo chiming)

- For more of Guyer's masks visit

Singer songwriter, Olivia Millerschin takes the stage

in Detroit, Michigan.

Millerschin's soulful style

blends genres from the present to yesteryear.

(pensive piano music)

♪ If you want it so bad ♪

♪ Go and get it yourself ♪

- What I've always wanted my music to do

is just to give people hope.

Some sort of light to a dark situation,

so hopefully that's what It does for people.

♪ But you'd rather go and hurt yourself ♪

♪ Or anyone else in the way ♪

I grew up listening to what my parents listened to.

So I've always really loved Carol King

and Simon Garfunkel.

And when I first started writing,

I felt like, Oh I want to be like them.

And then the older I get

the more I'm influenced by other things.

I listen to every genre now.

♪ "Wear your coat," she said, ♪

♪ "Don't want you to freeze." ♪

It's taken a long time to find the sound.

And I don't think...

I still haven't...

Everybody's always trying to find their sound.

I think our sound

can best be described as jazz folk singer song writer,

if that's a genre.

A mix of every genre.

And it's still working its way out

but I think I developed it

by working with musicians that surround me.

My most recent record I recorded in New York

with Kris Kubora and a songwriter named Wakey Wakey.

And they really helped

form the sound of Look Both Ways.

For so long I was performing solo

and with the new records

and adding more instruments,

we ended up bringing people on.

I play mainly ukulele, guitar and keys,

but it's hard to do that

when I have such an incredible band.

I can't make excuses to play when they're so good.

Today I'm performing

with Sonia Lee, Bob Mirvac, and James Pine.

We're gonna be doing Look Both Ways

which is the title track.

And When, which is a song that features

the 2015 winner of the voice.

But he's not here today.

And then Timeout

which is an older kind of burlesque sounding song.

Look Both Ways is a bit more serious for me.

A lot of my music's really happy and sunshiny,

but Look Both Ways

is about people not necessarily treating you well

or showing you their good side

but realizing that they still have a good side,

that maybe you just can't acknowledge or see right now.

♪ I look both ways before I cross the street ♪

♪ So tell me, how the hell did I not see ♪

♪ You coming, come full speed ahead ♪

♪ You coming, come for me instead ♪

♪ You coming, come full speed ahead for me. ♪

When, is a love song,

it's just an unconditional love song.

I'm just trying to write more songs

that I could sing at weddings to be honest.

And it just happened.

I actually wrote it on Makin Island.

So it was inspired by the love of Makin.

♪ Raise your voice ♪

♪ Show me your worst ♪

♪ Show me your worst ♪

Timeout is like the most unkind song

I've ever written I think.

It's about wanting to put a girl in time out

for messing with your man.

I don't know how else to explain it

but that's what that one's about.

♪ She knows, she knows, she knows ♪

♪ What she's done ♪

When I'm writing or when I'm performing

what I hope that the audience can take from it

is I hope they can somehow relate it to their own lives.

And the new album Look Both Ways is

all about seeing the good side

to something that isn't always good.

And some people think that's dark

but I think that's the complete opposite.

So hopefully it can help somebody

with whatever they're going through

or make their goods even better.

Surprisingly, a lot of people,

especially online,

young people have reached out and said,

I had a woman reach out to me a couple of weeks ago.

And she said that she lost both of her parents

when she was young

and she's part of it,

they may make a joke out of it

cause they don't know how else to deal with it.

She's part of a dead parents club,

it's like a support group.

And she said that they listened to my new album

every week before they have their meetings.

And I just think that's incredible.

I think as musicians and as anything

no matter what you're doing,

that's why you get into it in the first place,

you just hope that it affects other people

like it affects you.

So the fact that people

can get something positive from it

and it can help them in any way possible

is really all I could've asked for.

Tap into mediocre low and fabulous

is what I always tell my band

when they ask how they did

and what I tell myself.

I think I stole that phrase from Bob Mirvac

Who's replaced keys for me.

Cause I just think I can't take myself too seriously.

Even if most of the time we're critical,

but even if I think I did a good job

I'm like not that good, you can always do better.

♪ You are coming full speed ahead for me ♪

♪ And you are ♪

♪ You are coming full speed ahead for me ♪

(logo chiming)

- Here more at

And that wraps it up for this edition of WEDU Arts Plus.

For more arts and culture visit

Until next time I'm Dalia Colon.

Thanks for watching.

(dramatic music)

- [Informer] Major funding for WEDU Arts Plus

is provided through the Greater Cincinnati Foundation

by an arts loving donor who encourages others

to support your PBS station WEDU.

and by the Pinellas Community Foundation.

Giving humanity a hand since 1969.

(dramatic music)