Brittany Nader

Contributor/WKSU Shuffle

Brittany Nader joins Morning Edition host Amanda Rabinowitz on Thursdays to chat about Northeast Ohio’s vibrant music scene.

Brittany earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication, with a concentration in magazine journalism, from Kent State University in 2013. She has regularly contributed feature articles to local publications including The Devil Strip,, Buzzbin Magazine and Akron Beacon Journal’s Savor Ohio magazine.

She works full-time as the marketing director for ABC Packaging Direct, based in Westlake, Ohio. In her downtime, she enjoys reading, cooking, playing with her cats and immersing herself in Akron’s music scene. 

Ways to Connect

Ashton Blake

In 2018, singer-songwriter Angie Haze led a performance with her theatrical ensemble, The Angie Haze Project, at the Akron Civic Theatre.

Haze approached her saxophone player, Justin Tibbs, in front of an audience of primarily white attendees with the question, “Will you play for us the way it feels to be a Black man in America today?”

Zach Freidhof performs

The coronavirus pandemic has dealt a devastating blow to the region’s live music scene. Most independent venues have been closed for nearly six months, with no re-opening date in sight.

After two years in business, Stella’s Music Club in Cleveland shut its doors for good Aug. 20, making it the first major music venue in the city to close during the pandemic. Thursday’s Lounge, an Akron staple for alternative and dance music for 40 years, will officially close Aug. 29. Both venues cited challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak as major reasons for their closures. Mahall’s in Lakewood has launched a “Keep The Lights On” crowdfunding effort.

But there are some venues that are trying to reinvent themselves to keep their doors open.

Backline Cleveland, a gener8tor program made possible by the City of Cleveland and The Finch Group, launched in June to grant local musicians the chance to elevate their careers. The 12-week accelerator offers coaching opportunities with industry professionals, as well as the chance to connect and collaborate with other artists.

a photo of musicians in Mourning [A] BLKstar

Mourning [A] BLKstar is a diverse collective of Cleveland-based artists with layered identities. Its members aim to blur the lines of gender and genre while expressing their individual realities through music.

The collective’s 2018 album, “The Garner Poems,” takes on a new relevancy, with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery sparking protests and new conversations centered on police brutality and systemic racism around the world.

A photo of the Kent Stage

Across the state of Ohio, local music venues are struggling as the coronavirus pandemic has forced these entertainment hotspots to keep operations at a standstill. Local musicians who rely on live performances to earn a steady income have suffered with planned concerts canceled or postponed indefinitely.

As the COVID-19 stay-at-home order remains in place, earning wages through live performances and new album releases has been put on hold for many live musicians. 

Electric Company, an Akron-based recording studio, creative collective and record label, released an album called "Solo" to support local artists during this time. The album contains nine tracks recorded by participating solo artists in their own homes.

Luke Donaldson / Agape Photography

On what would have been the 12th annual celebration of Record Store Day on April 18, local music shops remained dark, empty and closed. The event is an annual celebration of independently owned record stores and brings crowds of music fans to these local businesses to buy exclusive or new music releases.

Local record stores are experiencing the difficult effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—not only on sales, but also in missing the camaraderie that often comes hand-in-hand with small businesses and their regular patrons.

Wuling Music Faculty

With widespread social distancing measures in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak, classical music performances have shifted from concert halls to virtual platforms. Piano Cleveland, a local organization that supports performing artists through education, competitions and outreach programming, has launched The Quarantine Concerts.

A photo of a musician

With the recent closure of bars, restaurants and venues that serve more than 10 patrons, the local music scene is facing challenges. Scheduled concerts, festivals, album release shows and other events have been canceled or postponed to a later, unspecified date.

Musicians and artists who rely on touring or otherwise playing out for income or exposure are faced with a new reality with the local community being unable to congregate in the presence of live music. Weekend plans and evening socialization may have changed for audiences, but for many local artists, their livelihood has all but vanished.

a photo of the band Coby and The Prisoners

Indie-rockers Coby and The Prisoners latest album is showing off the band’s talent at producing homegrown recordings that are polished and radio ready. WKSU contributor Brittany Nader talked with frontman Coby Hartzler about the band’s sound and his roots in the Dover/New Philadelphia area.

a photo of musician Anthony LaMarca

After touring the world with indie-rock darlings St. Vincent and The War on Drugs, local artist Anthony LaMarca returned home to record and release his own deeply personal new album.

It was a year of discoveries in local music, as bands who had been dormant for several years returned with new albums. WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz and contributor Brittany Nader picked their favorite music of 2019. 

Photo courtest of Jul Big Green

Julien Huntley, a.k.a. Jul Big Green, will release his 13-track album “5AM to Midnight” Nov. 15. The release will be the first in a two-part musical concept series, with the former focused on a nighttime theme, and his upcoming follow-up centered around daylight, with more upbeat, pop features.


This story was originially published on Jan. 31, 2019.

At 15 years old, Kofi Boakye was the youngest black pianist to be enrolled at the University of Akron School of Music's jazz program. 

Now, at 19 years old, he's starting his journey to the Berklee College of Music in Boston.  

Jenn Kidd

Akron recording artist Gabriel Schray, who releases music as G S Schray, has been active in the local music scene for more than 20 years.

The eighth annual PorchRokr festival is Saturday in Akron's Highland Square neighborhood. This year 170 artists and bands will perform on porches and stages. The free festival rotates each year among four sections of Highland Square. The music begins at 11 a.m. and concludes with headliners Nathan-Paul & The Admirables at 8 p.m. followed by a silent disco at the Mustard Seed Market and Cafe.

A photo of Maddie Indre

At 20 years old, local singer-songwriter Maddie Indre has seen her star rise this year after the release of her full-length debut, “Serenity,” in February. The artist performs as Indre and caught the attention of more than 1

Photo of Eddie Gacos as "Alomar"
Max Adams

Eddie Gancos, who adopted the moniker "Alomar" in 2012, will debut his solo album, “Soul Case,” through local label Small Mammal Records July 5. Gancos performed as the lead vocalist of CityCop, a screamo-acoustic band highly active in the local DIY music community. As Alomar, the singer has picked up his own acoustic guitar and written stripped-down songs that serve as his own personal creative outlet. 

A photo of musicians with the Little Elephant label

Akron is known nationwide for its vibrant do-it-yourself music scene. But artists are finding it’s getting harder  to take their music beyond their own homes and those of their friends. CityCop, one of the pioneers of Akron’s DIY community, is taking a different approach that it hopes will "break the mold" of how lesser-known bands get record deals. 

No Exit New Music Ensemble

Sophie Benn and Noa Even are working to bridge the gap between jazz and classical music audiences in Northeast Ohio with the Re:Sound festival. In its second year, the 2019 event will be held June 6-9 in various locations throughout Cleveland.

John R. Aylward Photography

Pop-rock duo DreamStates recently released its latest album, “Sad Bad Happy Good”. The 12-track release features multi-instrumentalist Natalie Grace Martin and creative designer Madeline Eckhart sharing vocals over original, rock-and-EDM-inspired beats. 


Akron songstress Gretchen Pleuss has made a name for herself in the local music scene, both hosting popular open mic nights at Uncorked Wine Bar every Tuesday night and steadily performing her original, acoustic songs on stage at venues across Northeast Ohio.

A photo of the band DreamStates

Adam Bonomo’s Alternative Attic is equal parts music video series and recurring live music event.

“It started off just being me trying to just show music in weird places,” Bonomo said.

Akron native Joe Maas, who produces atmospheric beats as ZOD1AC, is working to unite Northeast Ohio's hip-hop community by celebrating what makes Rust Belt cities inspiring and influential to local musicians.

From uke punk to dynamic hip-hop, it was an eclectic year of music in Northeast Ohio. WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz and contributor Brittany Nader pick their favorite local albums of 2018.