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ArtsLink Summer Coffeehouse Series Kicks Off in New Martinsville

NEW MARTINSVILLE — Singer songwriter Ryan Ritchea, originally from New Martinsville, kicks off the 2021 ArtsLink Summer Coffeehouse Series. The free show will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 24, on the new performance deck on the lawn of the Francis Creative Arts Center at the corner of Maple Avenue and Washington Street in New Martinsville.

The Summer Coffeehouse series is sponsored by First Mutual Bank. Light refreshments will be served. ArtsLink president, Scarlet Hood, commented, “Rain or shine, bring a lawn chair and enjoy great entertainment.”

Ritchea said his love of music comes from his family. He has fond memories of riding in his father’s truck and singing along with Alabama, listening to Buck Owens and His Buckaroos with his great-grandfather, and many visits to the Lincoln Theater with his grandparents to see The Ebert Brothers. Those influences inspired Ritchea to start singing when he was 11 years old.

In 2005, he was selected to be a member of the American Choral Director Association’s National Elementary School Honor Choir in Los Angeles. After performing with this choir, Ritchea started performing and competing in many local shows and events. Ritchea also started taking guitar lessons from Ron Hoskinson, beginning another phase in his musical journey and developing his passion for playing.

Local singer, Evan Cunningham, continues the 2021 ArtsLink Summer Coffeehouse Series with a free show begining at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 29, on the new performance deck. Cunningham is an 18-year-old singer, songwriter, and performer from Newport, Ohio.

He writes and performs mostly country music, but covers songs from other genres as well. He is a 2021 graduate of Frontier High School who will be studying music therapy and business as well as playing golf at Marietta College this fall. He has been performing solo since 2019.

Cunningham’s first release, “Burnin’ Gas” (June 2019), is available on CD as well as streaming services worldwide. Two of his original songs from this release have been played on Z106’s Music of the Mid-Ohio Valley.

His musical journey started when he was in the second grade. His grandma bought a guitar at a yard sale, thinking it would be something all eight of her grandchildren could enjoy in her basement. Before long, Cunningham claimed it as his own. He took “informal lessons” from a family friend whenever they could get together, and watch YouTube videos of guitarists. The summer after sixth grade, he went to a guitar camp and discovered High Schools That Rock, a free music program directed by Mark Doebrich of Marietta. Though officially “graduated” from HSTR, he continues to be involved as a teacher and mentor for the next group of young musicians. In addition, he has participated in Song Colony workshops with other local singer/songwriters and collaborated with local artist Jake Binegar on several projects.

ArtsLink is committed to providing universal accessibility wherever possible. Persons with special needs may contact Donna Earley at 304-455-2278 to request assistance.

Financial support for ArtsLink activities is provided by the city of New Martinsville Parks & Recreation Commission, West Virginia Northern Community College, WETZ/WYMJ Radio, EQT Foundation and Ohio Valley Online.

For more information, call 304-455-2278.


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