At 17, Activist Sebastian Bowen Discovers the Power of his Voice

Storytelling

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A profile I wrote about a 17-year-old activist who organized his high school’s walk-out against gun violence, for Charlotte magazine’s August issue.

AT 2:15 P.M., there’s a loud buzz. A voice begins reading the dismissal announcements—late buses, soccer practice reminders, and last, “Make sure you have patience and understanding this Friday.”

On cue, teenagers pour out of Independence High’s front doors like a pack of wild animals, hunting for the fastest possible exit out of the school parking lot. Book bags bounce as students run to their buses or cars, or to the small walking path that eventually leads to the Food Lion lot on Wilson Grove Road, a detour from the backlog of hand-me-down sedans and bright yellow buses. Horns honk, and there’s a middle finger out a driver’s window.

Sebastian Bowen, a senior, is in no hurry. Bus number 229 will take him to his home in the Shelburne Place neighborhood, and from there, he’ll walk the 26 minutes to his job stocking shelves at Harris Teeter. The bus is leaving any minute, but he ambles slowly, taking in the wild country that is high school.

READ MORE: http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/August-2018/At-17-Activist-Sebastian-Bowen-Discovers-the-Power-of-his-Voice/

The Big Love: Charlotte Musicians Gigi Dover and Eric Lovell

Storytelling

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A profile I wrote about the couple behind Gigi Dover & The Big Love, a local americana band in Charlotte, for Charlotte magazine’s July issue.

A PAIR OF PANTS—tight, pinstriped, black pants. When Eric Lovell talks about the early days, he starts there.

It was Christmastime 2002. Lovell and singer/songwriter Gigi Dover were performing together for Spindale public radio station WNCW’s holiday party, she as the headliner and he on bass guitar. The two had known each other for years, both staples in the Charlotte music scene for more than a decade. Lovell played guitar during Dover’s tour for her first solo album earlier that year, Unpicked Flowers.

At the time, Lovell had long, laid-back ringlets that landed at about his waist. Dover remembers watching his hair rock back and forth to the music as he played a rock version of “Away in a Manger” on bass that night. He only remembers her pants, though.

“She’s a long-legged woman,” he says with a wide grin, his mustache curled on the ends. “They just fit perfectly.”

Before, their timing had never been right for anything more than friendship. They were both married to other people and busy building their own music careers.

Who made the first move is still up for debate. But eventually feelings evolved and their friendship intensified into attraction, and then grew into something much deeper. The two married in 2006 and have worked together on more than 15 albums, four as the band Gigi Dover & The Big Love. Collectively, they have performed hundreds of shows in Charlotte, at the Evening Muse, the Visulite Theatre, and at the now-closed Double Door Inn. Thanks, in part, to a pair of pants.

READ MORE: http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/July-2018/The-Enduring-Musical-Personal-Partnership-of-Gigi-Dover-and-Eric-Lovell/

Photo by Chris Edwards.

Faith After The Flood, Charlotte Magazine

Storytelling

A feature story for Charlotte magazine about Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath in Lumberton, N.C. 

THE LEVEE didn’t fail, but the floodwaters still fought their way through. Rapids had already torn over and under Interstate 95, when water started seeping under Angela Freeman Culler’s door.

First it was just a shallow pool, her black tennis shoes splashing around as she paced back and forth in the four-bedroom apartment she shared with her adult son, Gage, and another family. Water soaked the frayed edges of her couch and washed over the living room carpet. It rose fast, peaking at knee-high on her 5-foot-2 frame, soaking her jeans and weighing her down as she tried to find refuge—higher ground, or maybe a boat. She craved a cigarette.

Outside, she climbed onto a car’s roof to stay dry and avoid the snakes swimming around her. She felt her pulse quicken, and grabbed her chest. For two hours she waited, the stench of sewage and gasoline floating above the murky water and clinging to her clothes. She watched as her neighbors, many of them unable to swim, held tight to tires. Cars drifted down her street, Sinclair Street, dragged by the Lumber River’s currents.

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Before her home started flooding, Angela didn’t even know a storm was coming. The day before, Saturday, October 8, 2016, it rained nonstop. Trees snapped and windows rattled as Hurricane Matthew’s Category One winds ripped through her low-income housing community on the southwestern side of town. Without cable or radio, Angela had missed the warnings. By Sunday, the rains settled and there was even some sun, but the historic rainfall of more than 16 inches had to drain somewhere.

It was only when the parking lot at the Holly Ridge apartments started to flood on Sunday that her neighbors murmured the word “hurricane.” Those murmurs soon turned into shouts. Lumberton was drowning.

 

READ MORE: http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/October-2017/One-Year-After-Hurricane-Matthew-in-Lumberton/

Photo by Logan Cyrus