Kayenecha Daugherty Advocates for Baltimore’s “Creative Nomads”

Her nonprofit provides arts entrepreneurs—as well as youth and families—access to professional development, resources, and networking.
—Photography by Matt Roth

Long before the days of Shazam, Kayenecha Daugherty was unstoppable when it came to discovering new music.

“I still remember hearing ‘My Heart Belongs to You’ by [D.C.-based R&B artist] Frankie for the first time, and it just perfectly captured everything I felt,” she says. “Finding out the artist and song name took a few calls to the cable company, but I wasn’t giving up.”

Her love for the music scene only deepened at Morgan State University where she majored in telecommunications. But after almost 20 years in the industry—including six years at the Grammys bringing professional development to music makers and more than 15 years running her own entertainment company, Gypsy Soul—Daugherty began to feel like artists were taken for granted.

“As a society, we cherish art without really considering the artist,” she says. “We don’t value or invest in the professional development and resources they need to create the art we consume and love.”

She couldn’t shake the conviction that musicians—and all artists for that matter—are too important to not support. In 2015, Daugherty launched her nonprofit, Creative Nomads, with the goal of providing arts entrepreneurs access to professional development, resources, and networking.

“Think of all the genius we’re missing because of those who have simply never picked up a paintbrush. Or all the wonderful artists who just don’t have the time, money, or space to express their creativity,” she says. “Communities need equal access to art experiences, and artists need resources. That’s what Creative Nomads is all about.”

Her organization also provides education and programming for youth and families that need it the most. Creative Nomads’ Where Art Starts (WAS) program has served more than 4,000 students and families, bringing fun creative activities to schools and community centers. This encompasses everything from African drumming to special events, like their epic “May the Fourth” party, which challenged the idea that Black families don’t enjoy sci-fi.

“Art can and should be used as a community-and relationship-building tool to strengthen Baltimore. It feels crucial for me to encourage folks to invest in artists and invest in places like Creative Nomads that are working hard to make sure everyone has access to the arts.”