kd kdyo yo


You cannot overstate how thirsty the Rochester community is for having a plethora of activities to choose from but it also cannot be overstated how hyper critical they are about whatever gets presented to them. Maybe its something in the water or simply in the vibe of our residents but ask promoters, fans, and artists alike- this is a tough crowd and a fickle market. They expect bang for their buck, transparency in their transactions, require realness above all else because the shady will get exposed. We work hard for our money in whatever arena and want something to show for it. Because of this mindset it takes time for any event to take root and often takes years for the community to really trust and support the creators behind it. In other words, the crowd has to respect the promoter in order to buy in. Over the last five years in business and now three of the Roc Awards Khadija Yawn and Yolanda Smilez have fought back the critics to produce a show like never seen before in the Roc. It represents talent and reflects community. A pill not easily swallowed early in the show’s history. But as the years pass, the show gets bigger and better and quietly the detractors are silenced as the process gets more transparent and the kinks are worked out to produce a better quality show each time out. So we asked the ladies a few questions to get a better insight as to what motivates them, what inspires them and what we have to look forward to with this year’s show. One thing is clear, the Roc Awards begins and ends with Yolanda and KD’s love for the ROC.

Why are the Roc Awards important to Rochester?

Khadija:                The show allows people to showcase talent and it also allows us to celebrate  one another’s talents.

Yolanda:               Exactly, and it also gives a platform for our city to respect our gifts and grind as a community  before we take the world by storm. We also hope a lot of artists begin to take their craft more seriously by giving them something to work toward that is absolutely attainable. There is alot of  talent out there but it has to come with a good work ethic …you have to be ready when your big break happens.


What is the biggest misconception about the Roc Awards & what do you have to say to the critics?

Khadija:               That it’s fixed. We have several processes that we use to ensure the show is equal in all capacities. People get nominated that we have never heard of until the community brings them to the table and the voting process is handled by a professional system completely independent of us.  And to the critics, we invite them to come to the show- they’ll be amazed.


What’s new and different for the show this year?

Yolanda:             The production will be bigger and better, the staff and volunteers will be new and different in many ways. And probably what we are most excited about- the new location; The Theater on the Ridge. It’s huge and its beautiful.  I believe everyone will love the upgrade.  There will be plenty of seats and still a spot to mingle!! We are also really looking forward to the new award categories that have been added.


So this year the show’s theme is “Rochester Rising Above”. What are you rising above in 2015?

Khadija:         I will be rising above various stereotypes and previous mishaps in 2014.


Yolanda:        I’m rising above the negative things that keep me from being focused on what really matters  in my life.


The Roc Awards 2015     #ROCRISE     #2.15.15