What happened that one night at Wesley?
The Wesley Foundation will host local indie jazz band, Maplehurst tonight to raise funds and awareness for Sweet Aroma Ministries, whose mission is to stop human trafficking in Kenya.
Sweet Aroma Ministries, a pop-up coffee shop, works to raise awareness and funds to stop human trafficking in Kenya while also serving meals to women working in strip clubs once a week.
Megan Lange, a senior in technical writing, said she hopes that supporting the charity will combine with an intimate, casual night at the Wesley Foundation.
"Part of our goal for this concert was to have a cool night at Wesley with coffee and music – and in the process, provide exposure for a local charity," Lange said. "Sweet Aroma is such a unique idea that we wanted to support them. And it doesn't hurt that they make great coffee. Who doesn't love a pop-up coffee shop?"
Passionate about fighting human trafficking, Jenna Weaver, Maplehurst's vocalist, said she saw Lange's invitation to play the event as a chance to help spread the word to "all kinds of people."
"Megan inviting us to play is a great opportunity for us as a band to help World Vision get the word out to the supporters and listeners of our music; therefore, reaching more people," Weaver said. "I want everyone to come out and support this event as stopping human trafficking is something very close to my heart, and I am happy to help in this way."
On the leadership team at the Wesley Foundation, Claire Dodson, a junior in English and arts and culture editor at The Daily Beacon, has been looking for a chance to use an often forgotten space upstairs with an unused stage. When the idea of the concert arose and formed, she was glad to "do something productive with the space."
While the Wesley Foundation hosts a plethora of events each month, Dodson said she feels "most of them are geared to the Wesley community." While they do movie nights, host other Wesley Foundations and perform service projects within the greater Knoxville area, Dodson was looking to do more.
"I wanted us to do something for students and music lovers that hopefully will bring in a different group of people than usually come here, and music does that," Dodson said. "I would love it if we could do more concerts upstairs and establish Wesley as an arts-oriented community."
Opening the night will be the Wesley Collective. Comprised of Wesley Foundation members Michael Wilson, Jonathan Baylor, Dodson and Lange, the group will set the scene for the evening.
"We are all involved at Wesley Foundation and love to make music – so once it was decided that this event would happen, the idea sprung for a group of us to play some of our original tunes together," Lange said. "Personally, I've enjoyed making music with these guys for several years now in a non-performance sense, so we're just taking it to the next level."
Stating Maplehurst as an obvious choice, Lange was surprised to learn that Weaver is avid about fighting human trafficking. After finding out Weaver wants to be a missionary to help this cause, Lange said she sees the combination of Sweet Aroma Ministries and Maplehurst as the Wesley Foundation "really bringing light to a subject that we, as a campus, need to be aware of."
Lange also sees Maplehurst's "distinctive musical flair" as a drawing point for the event.
"Maplehurst is a well-known band here in Knoxville with a distinctive musical flair," Lange said. "You don't find a band that describes themselves as being 'as smooth as coffee poured over cheesecake' often, but that's exactly what Maplehurst does.
"Basically, their blend of indie jazz fits in perfectly with the feel we want to foster throughout the evening."
While Maplehurst recently released their self-titled first album, Weaver said she does not see this event as a chance to promote the accomplishment. Rather, she intends to focus on the mission at hand.
"I actually do not see this show as a way to showcase our album at all," Weaver said. "In fact I don't want this show to be about us or anything we have done at all.
"I want the focus and showcase to be about stopping human trafficking and raising money for World Vision who are already helping stop human trafficking."
In the end, Dodson hopes the event not only spreads awareness about human trafficking but the Wesley Foundation's place in the community as well while showcasing local talent.
"I hope attendees get the chance to listen to some really captivating music and that they come away thinking, 'Hey, Wesley is different than I thought,' or if they didn't know about us at all, that they'll remember us and know as an inviting and musical place," Dodson said. "I don't want to have a huge agenda where we guilt people into coming to our events, but I love this community so much and the chance to share that and great local music is awesome."
Tickets are $3 at the door. For more information about Maplehurst and Sweet Aroma Ministries, visit their websites at www.facebook.com/maplehurstband and www.sweetaromacoffee.org.