Last year, the RVA’s music community suffered a major lost with the passing of artist and producer Darrell Durant, known to most as Kleph Dollaz. Since his passing Kleph’s sister, Trenna Grice, brother, Johnnie Durant, his extended music family the Klubhouse Krew, and many more (S/O to Noah-O, Mr. Middlefinger, and so many others) have worked around the clock to keep Kleph’s legacy alive. A mini milestone was reached last weekend with installation of a Kleph Dollaz mural in Shockoe Bottom. I took the Cheats Movement camera down to the installation and later interviewed Kleph’s sister Trenna Grice on the legacy of her brother. You know that I love the concept of family (blood and extended) and family doing what they can to support each other. This is one family’s effort to keep Kleph Dollaz alive.
For people that don’t know your brother, tell me about Darrell (AKA Kleph Dollaz) and impact he had on RVA and beyond.
Darrell was a very loving person. He was born with music in his soul and he had a tremendous ear for the craft. He represented RVA when he was signed to Atlantic Records in the ’90’s at age 22. The duo “Ill Biscuits” first single “God Bless Your Life” was released from the album the Chronicles of Two Loosers. When things did not work out with the label, Kleph moved back to the RVA market and begin working as a Youth Counselor at Rosie Greer’s Group Home. This is when Kleph realized that he had a connection with children and he wanted to do his all to aid in them being productive citizens. He worked hard to make an impression on them. He mentored and became a role model to many. Additionally, he continued to write, produce and perform music, until he passed – he worked in both fields. In the music industry, Kleph worked with many local and nationally recognized artist.He worked with Black Thought and the Roots, Lloyd Banks, Talib Kweli, Mims, Sadat X, Blahzay, and many others.
How did the idea of a mural come about?
The mural idea was actually sparked by his friends of the Klubhouse Krew. When the artist that was to paint the mural passed away in October 2012, my cousin-in-law reached out to me and said that she would do it. Michelle Angela Ortiz-Durant is a muralist by trade and has over 100 masterpieces in Philadelphia alone. She has also painted internationally with murals located in Costa Rica and Mexico just to name a few. Additional information about Michelle can be found on her website at www.michelleangela.com
Is Michelle the lead artist? Did she do the work alone?
Michelle is the only true artist of this process. Many of the Krew volunteered and drove up to Philadelphia where we had a paint day to do the details of the mural. We then traveled to RVA to do the installation last weekend.
Kleph’s musical family, The Klubhouse Krew, dedicated a show to their friend and mentor last year at the Canal Club
How did you determine the location of the mural?
The location of the mural was a challenge. We originally had a different location and at the last minute had a conflict and could not do it there. On the evening of August 9th, Mimi Velez happened to be in the bottom having dinner and she walked in to the store owner, explained our obstacle and he said he would be honored for us to paint on his wall. The entire team deployed first thing Saturday, August 10th to get started. I later found out that Kleph actually filmed one of his videos in that exact alley (Walnut Alley – Shockoe Bottom) and against that wall. I knew he frequented the Farmer’s Market and at one point resided right off of 17th Street. The mural was meant to be there. It was like bringing him home.
Tell me about God’s Morning Foundation?
God’sMorning Foundation, LLC is a nonprofit organization that supports and will be offering scholarships to at-risk youth that have transformed their quality of life through their involvement with the arts and other positive means within the community. The Foundation was launched on Kleph’s birthday, April 27, 2013 in the memory of Kleph. Kleph aspired to redirect the way that the music industry promotes artist and the impact their music placed on our youth. The foundation was created by me and my family to continue his legacy in helping young people strive to make a positive impact within the community. The name of the foundation came from Kleph as he would post inspirational messages via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and in closing he would state “God’sMorning.” This movement motivated us to go beyond stimulating individuals through social media, but to also promote a vehicle that will continue to inspire for a life-time.
What are your future plans to keep the legacy of your brother alive?
Going forward, GMF plans to continue to promote Kleph’s vision and mission of helping children. We plan to be involved in community activities where our positive messages can inspire others to participate. We hope to not only help children further their education but also create funding for summer camps to those who cannot afford to send their children on their own. The idea is to place the kids in a positive environment at all times.
For more information on God’s Morning Foundation click HERE. The first annual K-Bux Scholorship Fundraiser will be August 24, 2013. Please support this effort.
Thanks to Trenna Grice for taking the time to for this post. WE SEE IT!