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🗣 Locals to Know: Meet INEZ, New Year’s Eve headliner

INEZ is a Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary musician and artist who has recorded albums, created community spaces and collaborated with artist groups — INEZ was recently welcomed into the latest cohort of UniSound’s Black Teaching Artist in Residence (BTAR) program, a nine-month paid residency that connects art practitioners with area young people. You’ll almost certainly see her if you venture downtown for New Year’s Eve. Learn more about INEZ’s life and work below!

Tell our readers about yourself and your artistic practices. What kind of music gets you most excited?

My name is INEZ. I’m a producer, singer-songwriter, musician, and audio engineer; Pittsburgh Public School graduate and Berklee College of Music alumna as well as THEE FireShorty™️, lol. I’m an audiophile who gets to share my feelings and life experiences through sound. While I predominantly produce and write R&B and soul music, I believe I’m genre-fluid and blend genres to round out my sound. I have a folk song with Buffalo Rose; good music is good music.

For those unfamiliar, what does it mean to work as a teaching artist?

Being a teaching artist means I can positively impact the world around me through skill-sharing. Art has always been a relay race; we pass knowledge and advice to those who will do the same once they’ve developed their artistic perspectives. Being able to do that with music production, songwriting, and audio engineering is immensely gratifying. I also get to mentor in real-time. Students get to see me accomplishing career goals while having access to me. We’re conditioned to believe that “those that can’t do, teach” — I aim to prove that wrong every day. 

What other teaching experiences have you had, and how will they inform your work with UniSound?

I’ve worked with Trust Arts Education, Arts Ed Collaborative (Editor’s note: shoutout to my former employer), and PPS, and I am a teaching artist at YMCA Lighthouse. I am an amalgamation of every classroom, workshop, and residency I’ve led. Whether through trauma-informed instruction or making my education more accessible, my approach is the same: create a safe and inclusive learning environment. 

Talk to me about some of the ways Pittsburgh has helped you — or held you back.

Pittsburgh’s lack of resources is a gift and curse. On the one hand, if you’re serious about your craft, it’s easy to make a name for yourself. But on the other hand, once you hit a particular tier, you realize this city isn’t sustainable (yet) for musical creatives. The glass ceiling here is quite thick, and many are afraid to support the efforts of “graduating” artists to expand their work outside of the city. I believe that to help grow resources and visibility, we need an “assembly line,” an ecosystem that supports artists and their development from early stages through professional renown. 

How can our readers support your work?

You can follow me on social media, share posts, engage, etc. Sign up for my mailing list (INEZ.us), buy my music on Bandcamp and come out to shows. Also, support the marketing and community-building platform I co-created with Clara Kent, BLKNVMBR.

You can learn more about INEZ at INEZ.us and about UniSound at unisound.us. INEZ will perform during First Night on New Year’s Eve downtown.

Know of a person or organization that we ought to feature? Email us at hello@theincline.com with your suggestion, and you could see their name in an upcoming newsletter!

Correction: An earlier version of this article inaccurately described the nine-month BTAR residency as a six-month residency. This post has been updated to correct the error.