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Shelem. Photo:

Hey y’all,

It’s that time again! A new month means a new Creators & Innovators host, and this month we’ve got a real treat in store for you. Our host for May is a man who wears many hats and has many talents, and I know you will enjoy getting to know him as much as we have.

Before I introduce you to him, though, I want to bid a fond farewell to our April host. Ebtehal Badawi produced such beautiful essays about pursuing your dreams, having faith in your own vision and never giving up on your goals – all while telling us how she uses her talents to make her community a better place. She is an inspiration and a true talent, and I am so grateful for her contributions to 100 Days in Appalachia and to her hometown of Pittsburgh. 

Our May host is equally inspirational. Originally from beyond the reaches of our region in Silver Springs, Maryland, Shelem was born to parents from the Ivory Coast. He began writing and producing his own music at age 14 and in 2018, graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, with a degree in civil engineering. He now works as an engineer in the state capital, Charleston, while continuing to perform and release new music.  

Shelem released his debut album “The Jaunts” the same year he graduated from Marshall. In 2020, he released his sophomore effort. “UhhYup! The Mixtape” was promoted with a social media campaign where he filmed and provided clips for fans to post as well as soliciting word suggestions from fans, which he would then take and build a song around – the most notable of which, “Butter,” has been streamed more than 25,000 times across multiple platforms. As of 2022, Shelem continues to make music in Appalachia and aims to expand his audience nationwide. 

As I mentioned, Shelem is not just a rapper but also a professional engineer. While this is not necessarily a combination most people would expect, it makes perfect sense – as Shelem himself explained in a recent TedX Talk at his alma mater. In a lecture entitled “What do a rapper and an engineer have in common?” Shelem explains how art and logical thinking are not that dissimilar. The talk has been very well received, amassing nearly 20,000 views since it was posted on April 27. 

We here at 100 Days in Appalachia are so excited to welcome Shelem to our Creators & Innovators series. This inspiring young Appalachian no doubt has many fresh and exciting insights to share with us, and I for one look forward to reading what he has to say. I know you will, too.

Catch him in your inbox tomorrow!



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