Who’s Next

Who’s Next: Musicians; 23 young Pittsburghers composing the city’s soundtrack

Celebrate their accomplishments with us on March 27.

WHO’S NEXT March updated_WITH SPONSOR
PHoto illustration / Brian cook for the incline
MJ Slaby

Updated, 4:50 p.m.

If the soundtrack of Pittsburgh was based on this class of Who’s Next honorees, it would be as varied as the city itself.

From opera to rock ‘n’ roll to country and hip hop — the genres are wide-ranging from this class of young Pittsburghers who are making a difference through music.

Every month, Who’s Next, presented by S&T Bank, recognizes up-and-comers in different fields. This month, we’re celebrating the work of 23 musicians.

Meet them here and hear their work. Then, get your ticket to join us at a happy hour in their honor on March 27.

Party with The Incline

Celebrate Who’s Next: Musicians at this happy hour

Join us at a happy hour in honor of The Incline's Who's Next: Musicians class. This event is for you if you play an instrument, have great vocals, or if you want to learn more about our city's music scene. At this celebration:

  • Meet honorees who were nominated by their peers and selected by The Incline's newsroom.
  • Enjoy local food and beverages.
Who's Next, presented by S&T Bank, is a monthly series honoring under-40 professionals making Pittsburgh a better place. Your ticket supports our local newsroom, which is committed to keeping you informed by reporting relevant, original and actionable news. If you love The Inclinebecome a member today.

Where: Alloy 26 at 100 S Commons, Suite 102 (North Side)

When: March 27, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

How much: $25 for public | Free for Who's Next: Musicians honorees


Molly Alphabet

Molly Alphabet

Courtesy of Molly Alphabet / photo by Photo by Mindi Harkless

Molly Alphabet

Singer and Songwriter
34 years old

A country singer-songwriter, Molly Alphabet started performing with a full band in 2012 and is releasing her first full-length album this summer. In 2017, she released a five-song EP, “Traces.” Her nominator praised her for filling her band with talented local musicians and said she “has remained true to the genre while adding her own unique approach.” She’s a lifelong Lawrenceville resident. Listen to Molly Alphabet here.

Josh Bakaitus

Josh Bakaitus

Brian cook / for the incline

Josh Bakaitus

Talent Buyer, Live Nation; Owner, Secret Frnds
32 years old

When he was 12, Josh Bakaitus started his own production company and learned how to produce live concerts in his hometown of Charleroi. Now, he’s the talent buyer for the Live Nation Clubs & Theaters and books for venues including the Rex Theater, Heinz Hall, Smiling Moose and more. Bakaitus is also the owner of Secret Frnds, a boutique artist management and booking agency. There, he’s the managing partner for The Emo Band, a live band emo and pop punk karaoke party. He attended Westmoreland County Community College and lives in the West End.

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A

Courtesy of Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A / Photo by Ericka L Stewart

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A.

Mass Liberation Organizer and Artivist
37 years old

Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. is a hip-hop artivist, poet and historian who uses hip hop “as a vessel to channel her powerful anthems for political movements for equity and human rights.” Their name, M.A.D.U.S.A, is an acronym for Making a Difference Using Skills and Activism. In 2018, their one-woman play “Mary’s Daughter: Memoirs of an Artivist” had five sold-out shows. The performer is also a youth mentor with multiple organizations, including New Voices Pittsburgh and Urban League Charter School. Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. strives to tell stories about the legacy of black women and girls, stories that are “told about us, rather than by us.” They live in Wilkinsburg and Philadelphia. Listen to their music here.

Chris Boles

Chris Boles

brian cook / for the incline

Chris Boles

Co-Founder, Redfishbowl
28 years old

Redfishbowl, an artist collective, started in 2013 with a goal of promoting local art inside Delanie's Coffee in the South Side with Chris Boles as one of the founders. Redfishbowl has since grown and now creates arts festivals in unlikely locations, fundraises for charity and works to benefit the entire arts community. Plus, it’s an indie label for bands and visual artists. As co-founder and manager, Chris Boles leads events booking, sales and marketing for the collective. “His creativity, initiative, and passion for music and art — and his willingness to make shit happen — make him a force in this region,” his nominator wrote. Boles is a graduate of Mercyhurst University and lives in Lawrenceville.  Listen to Bat Zuppel, a Redfishbowl artist, here.

Joel Carter aka Barz Blackman and JP Pitt

Joel Carter aka Barz Blackman and JP Pitt

Brian cook / for the incline

Joel Carter aka Barz Blackman

Rapper and MC, BBGuns
27 years old

JP Pitt

Lead Vocalist, BBGuns
29 years old

JP Pitt and Joel Carter aka Barz Blackman are BBGuns, an indie duo that combines hip-hop with indie rock and pop. “BBGuns makes original fresh music that appeals to a wide variety of people here,” their nominator wrote. In addition to performing, the duo has organized events in the Pittsburgh area for nearly 10 years. Pitt lives in Bloomfield, and Carter lives in New Kensington.

Leslie Chabala

Leslie Chabala

brian cook / for the incline

Leslie Chabala

Music & Computer Science Teacher, Nazareth Prep High School
26 years old

Leslie Chabala brings music and technology together for high school students. The music and computer science teacher started working at Nazareth Prep in Emsworth when it opened in 2014. In her classes, students write, record, produce and perform songs based off a theme, and her students also study how music impacts film. Chabala leads the school’s band and plays in an ‘80s synthpop-style band called Take Me With You, which is releasing its first album in May. A graduate of Duquesne University, she lives in Squirrel Hill. Listen to Take Me With You here.

André Costello

André Costello

brian cook / for the incline

André Costello

Singer and Songwriter, André Costello and The Cool Minors
31 years old

André Costello started The Cool Minors as a solo project in 2011, but over the next few years, it became a full band with Costello as the lead singer and chief songwriter. In 2015, the band released its first full-length album on vinyl with a sold-out show at the Andy Warhol Museum. In 2018, they debuted their second record at the Buhl Planetarium with a choreographed laser show. Costello is also the owner of Costello Creative Design and is a member of the teen services team at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, where he works with teens, teaching them design, as well as how to record in the music studio. He lives in Brookline. Listen to André Costello and The Cool Minors here.

Lauren Goshinski

Lauren Goshinski

Courtesy of Lauren Goshinski / NTS Radio - London

Lauren Goshinski

Independent Curator; Co-Founder, VIA Festival & girlFx
38 years old

Lauren Goshinski describes her work as at “the intersection of music, performance, and the moving image.” She co-founded VIA, an audio-visual festival in Pittsburgh that provides visibility to women, LGBTQ and other marginalized artists in electronic music. She’s also a touring DJ and a founding member of girlFx, which supports leadership opportunities for female, trans and non-binary people in nightlife. Goshinski has worked with Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Filmmakers / Center for the Arts to promote local artists. She lives in Friendship and is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.

Caitlin Gotimer

Caitlin Gotimer

brian cook / for the incline

Caitlin Gotimer

Resident Artist, Pittsburgh Opera
25 years old

Caitlin Gotimer moved to Pittsburgh in September 2018 and has performed in three operas including “Hansel & Gretel” as a resident artist with the Pittsburgh Opera. In December, she won the “Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions” — aka the “American Idol” for opera — for the Pittsburgh District and later placed third at the Great Lakes Regionals. Next season, she will be the title role in "Alcina" and have a featured role in the new opera “The Last American Hammer.” She’s a graduate of Binghamton University and the University of Cincinnati. Gotimer lives in the Strip District. Watch Gotimer perform here.

This bio has been corrected to accurately list Gotimer's roles for next season.

Kelly Hiser

Kelly Hiser

brian cook / for the incline

Kelly Hiser

CEO and Co-founder, Rabble
35 years old

Kelly Hiser combined her skills as a musician and a historian to co-found Rabble in 2014. The software company is behind MUSICat, an open-source platform that allows libraries to create online local music collections. STACKS, the MUSICat-powered collection at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh launched in February. Hiser is graduate of Slippery Rock University and the Universities of Miami and Wisconsin. She lives in Brookline.

Christina Hsu

Christina Hsu

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Christina Hsu

Coordinator of Individual Support, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
24 years old

As the coordinator of individual support for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Christina Hsu is the campaign manager for grassroots telefunding efforts. She leads script creating, budget management and more. Hsu also designs and leads digital fundraising strategies for the three campaigns that the PSO does each year. She was born in Taiwan and moved to Columbus when she was 11 years old. Hsu now lives in Penn Hills and is a graduate of Denison University.

Elias Khouri

Elias Khouri

brian cook / for the incline

Elias Khouri

Guitarist and musician
17 years old

Elias Khouri is a funk, soul, and rock ’n’ roll guitarist who is inspired by the music of Led Zeppelin, Santana, Aerosmith and The Eagles. He’s performed at both local and national music festivals. That includes Picklesburgh where his nominator first saw Khouri perform and wrote that “his voice, stage presence, guitar talents and range of music was amazing. I felt at that moment, and still believe, that this young man is going to be a rockstar someday and that someday will be sooner than later.” A student at Nazareth Prep, he will attend Point Park University in the fall and plans to study sports, arts and entertainment management. He lives in Polish Hill.

Edward Leonard

Edward Leonard

Courtesy of Edward Leonard/ photo by Alisa Garin

Edward Leonard

Artistic Director and Conductor, Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh
38 years old

Edward Leonard founded the Chamber Orchestra of Pittsburgh, a non-profit ensemble, in 2014. He’s also been the music director since the start of the ensemble. As a guest conductor, he’s performed with the Pittsburgh Youth Chamber Orchestra and is the principal guest conductor for Ovrearts New Music Ensemble and the Savoyards Pittsburgh. A graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with a master’s degree in Orchestral Conducting, he spent summers at the Pierre Monteux School for Orchestra Conductors in Maine. Leonard lives in Greenfield. Listen to the Chamber Orchestra perform here.

Amos Levy aka DJ Thermos

Amos Levy aka DJ Thermos

brian cook / for the incline

Amos Levy aka DJ Thermos

Music Technology Coordinator, YMCA Lighthouse
34 years old

Music is a way to create creative communities, empower students and work toward social justice, Amos Levy told The Incline. He is the music technology coordinator for YMCA Lighthouse, an afterschool program that empowers students to better their communities through media arts and leadership. He’s also is co-director of Tuff Sound Apprenticeship Program, a nonprofit that teaches audio engineering and production to teens. He performs as DJ Thermos and plays lead synthesizer for the band Chantillion. A graduate of Duquesne University, he lives in Regent Square. Listen to DJ Thermos here.

Mario Quinn Lyles

Mario Quinn Lyles

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Mario Quinn Lyles

Executive Director, Level Up Studios
33 years old

A hip hop recording artist, Mario Quinn Lyles is the founder and executive director of Level Up Studios, a creative arts space in Garfield. Level Up offers dance, martial arts, design, creative writing and piano lessons in one place and “serves as a creative playground for underserved youth, local artists/ musicians and cultural enthusiasts,” per its website. Lyles, who is also a dancer and visual artist, additionally founded Level Up Music Group, an independent label focused on young musicians. He’s a teaching artist at Kelly Strayhorn Theater and lives in Homewood.

Sharon Mok

Sharon Mok

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Sharon Mok

Musician, The Real Sea and Tiny Rhymes; Gear Director, Girls Rock! Pittsburgh; Self-employed piano technician
34 years old

Sharon Mok is a singer-songwriter who performs as Tiny Rhymes and is also a member of the indie rock group The Real Sea. In addition to performing, Mok works with young musicians as a guitar teacher for the after-school program at the South Hills Interfaith Movement, which serves refugee and immigrant families and is on the board of directors for Girls Rock! Pittsburgh. She also is a self-employed concert piano technician. A graduate of Florida State, Western and Queen’s universities, she lives in Edgewood. Listen to Tiny Rhymes here.

Hussein Pwono aka pvkvsv

Hussein Pwono aka pvkvsv

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Hussein Pwono aka pvkvsv

Musician and Producer
30 years old

Hussein Pwono — aka pvkvsv — uses elements of smooth jazz, flamenco and Italian film scores as inspiration for the music he creates. A beatmaker and emerging producer, he told The Incline  that he’s “constantly experimenting and pushing his personal boundaries, a persistent theme through the lo-fi hip hop music he produces.” A Congolese-American, he grew up learning traditional songs and released his first album, "peels 2," in January. He lives in Highland Park.

Patience Roy'al

Patience Roy'al

Courtesy of Patience Roy'al / Photo by Darren Talent

Patience Roy’al

Singer
21 years old

Singer Patience Roy’al told The Incline that her love of music started when she was just a toddler. Since then, she embraced learning about music and learned to play the piano and violin. An artist with 1 Hood Media, her bio stresses her confidence as an artist: “With a flare of sass & passion, she never fails to show herself throughout her performances.” The singer lives in Turtle Creek. Listen to her sing here.

Wade Rue Jr. aka Way~D

Wade Rue Jr. aka Way~D

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Wade Rue Jr. aka Way~D

Producer, Writer and Engineer, Dreamslide Productions
32 years old

Wade Rue Jr. aka Way~D is a composer who produces his music through Dreamslide Productions. A Pittsburgh native and Creative and Performance Arts High School alumnus, the composer is inspired by the different sounds of the city and works to tell stories through his instrumental-only compositions. While he spends most of his time in the studio as a mix engineer, he also performs solo and with other artists on stage. He told The Incline that he’s a proud advocate for the arts and hopes to inspire others. He lives in Rankin. Listen to his music here.

Jenny Sines

Jenny Sines

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Jenny Sines

Musician, Jenny and The Jags
30 years old

While she’d written and played music for years, Jenny Sines started to take it more seriously after moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2015. And two years later, Jenny And The Jags formed, which Sines describes as adding a rock ’n’ roll energy to her acoustic songwriting. Sines also recently started a second band, Truffle Club, to explore different styles from jazz to country. She also is active in Millvale’s music scene and helped with the Millvale Music Festival by booking musicians and venues. In addition, Sines is the founder of Millvale Yoga Collective, which provides donation-based yoga to a variety of students. She lives in Millvale. Listen to Truffle Club here.

Alex Stanton

Alex Stanton

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Alex Stanton

Artist, townsppl; Director, Sunburst School of Music
34 years old

Alex Stanton is the folk-pop singer behind townsppl, a band that ranges from Stanton performing solo to him with up to 10 other performers. 91.3FM WYEP named townsppl and its album “Twigs” as a top local act of 2018. Stanton is also the founder of Sunburst School of Music in Squirrel Hill, which opened in 2011. His nominator praised the school for working with people of all ages and wrote that “Sunburst music recitals are great community events where everyone supports and appreciates the performers.”  Stanton lives in Polish Hill. Listen to townsppl here.

Sam Stucky

Sam Stucky

Courtesy of Sam Stucky / photo by taylor grice

Sam Stucky

Musician, Sam Stucky Music
24 years old

Sam Stucky released his first full-length album, “Movement,” in June 2018. On the album, he wrote the songs, sings and plays multiple instruments. His nominator praised Stucky for music that “humbly pulls poignant social messages about peace, justice, and love” and noted that Stucky often performs at volunteer events and fundraisers, including a benefit for Jewish Family and Community Services after the Tree of Life massacre. Stucky is currently working on an acoustic project, expected to be released this summer. He also works at Higher Achievement where he helps Pittsburgh Public School students with their academics and is on the staff of Climbing Wall Pittsburgh. A graduate of Bluffton University, Stucky lives in Point Breeze. Listen to Stucky’s music here.