By Scott Sechmann / Correspondent
Readers of the Coast often look to us to get information about entertainment, history and other activities they may want to engage in while they visit our little slice of paradise.
I cover the music scene and musicians, primarily. It’s been hard this season. Not just because of the pandemic that lingers, menacingly, in the background, curtailing the live performances that visitors and residents expect this time of year, but also because of hole left in the heart of our music community when it lost a well-known music promoter named Ravann Rachelle Horton, 39, and her 9-year-old son Sebastian “Sebi” Lopez in a tragic house fire in May.
I’d never met Ravann in person, but I knew her through Facebook and by reputation. She always treated me with respect as a musician; that can be a rarity in our business. But on this island and regions stretching to the north, south and west, our tribe of musicians, singers and venue owners knew her well and that the loss is immeasurable.
Nobody knows more than Kelley Grider Horton, Ravann’s mother and Sebi’s grandmother.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of what we’ve lost,” Kelley said in a recent phone interview. “We spoke every day. We video-chatted every day. We shared the same passions. She taught me about being a mother.”
Ravann didn’t have it easy, Kelley said. She struggled every day as a single mom, trying to make ends meet. But she found her niche. As the owner and founder of Ravra Productions, she was responsible for the musicians that played nightly at the Outer Banks Brewing Station. She also booked up-and-coming regional and national acts, as well as internationally known, established artists, at various venues.
Kelley said Ravann wasn’t a musical child. ”She loved to sing. She wasn’t perfect, but she sure would try.” But she had an uncanny, natural ability to recognize and promote talent. Ravann started working for local icon Mike Kelly when she was 18, helping book music and provide advice about bands, according to Kelley. After high school, she pursued an education in theater arts.
Ravann’s altruism is what stands out to me. Working to raise funds for the likes of the Beach Food Pantry, the Dare County Arts Council, OBX Cares and other worthy nonprofits by lining up the musical entertainment. When any of the local music community, be they artists like Mojo Collins, Jesse Fernandez or sound man extraordinaire Chris Whitehurst, were in need, Ravann was there to help turn Outer Banks Brewing Station into a benefit venue to assist those that, on a good day, live on the financial margins.
Because of the generosity of our local community, primarily through a GoFundMe campaign, Kelley has been writing checks to the organizations and causes that Ravann and Sebastian held close to their hearts. As of early this month, it had raised $36,114, well surpassing a $10,000 goal.
“Their passion was to keep things going: the arts, Feline Hope, the SPCA…helping people that need things that they don’t have,” Kelley said.
Ravann was also passionate about children learning music and volunteered to help with the Mustang Outreach Program. Local legend and musician Ruth Wyand teaches the program, which includes live band performances.
Ravann initially got involved by helping backstage when the kids played at the Mustang Music Festivals. Last fall, when Sebi was old enough to be in the program, she volunteered to help Ruth with the rehearsals. Sebi was learning guitar and keyboard and how to interact with other kids as a performing unit. Ruth said he was a leader.
“The other kids looked up to him,” Ruth said. “If he was being goofy, they would be goofy, but if he was serious, they followed his lead.”
Kelley said Ravann introduced Sebi to all kinds of music and bands and people> She taught him how music can set a mood or establish the tone of the day. Sebi could recite lyrics from The Wailers, EarthKry, Bob Marley and Michael Franti, Kelley said.
“He loved Michael Franti because he was so into the environment.” Sebi’s last class project as a band member in the Mustang Outreach Program was on Franti, Kelley said.
“She taught Sebastian about music and taking care of the Earth – Mother Earth,” Kelley said of Ravann. You hardly ever saw one without the other, even when Ravann was at work. Nine times out of 10, Sebi was there, learning how to bus tables, wrap silverware, cater, greeting people, hosting. He helped backstage with bands, according to Kelley.
“He was a character. He was funny,” she said.
Sebi’s other grandmother, Nina Lipscomb, once asked him if he was rich or poor, Kelley recalled. He responded, “You know, I’m rich in love.”
“That was him – the love that he gave,” Kelley said. “Ravann did that. Sebi was about to make a huge impact on this world. I don’t want him to be forgotten. I don’t want her to be forgotten. I could rave about ‘Rave’ 24 hours a day and it’s not enough.”