Hip-hop producer, engineer and entrepreneur Emmai Alaquiva is watching some of his childhood dreams come true. On Aug. 2, he received a Mid-Atlantic Emmy nomination, for music composition and arrangement for several WQED documentaries soundtracks, including "In Country: A Vietnam Story," "Jim Crow Pennsylvania" and "From Pennsylvania's Dutch Kitchens."
The Emmy nomination is the result of a long road of hard work and commitment. Alaquiva got his start in pioneering local hip-hop group Pensoulzinakup. For a time he was homeless, working as a doorman at the Shadow Lounge. But since those days, he has used his production expertise and good business ethics to grow occasional freelance work into a full-time job as producer and engineer.
The East Liberty facility he now owns and operates, Ya Momz House Studios, maintains a strong presence in the local music scene, even as it caters to more established clients such as WQED. Alaquiva opened Ya Momz House in 2001 as a 300 square-foot space, and has continued to expand. It has tripled in size to include a lounge area, control room and recording room for live performances.
"I could not even think of accomplishing anything of this level without the people of Pittsburgh supporting me to keep my dreams alive, while I try to inspire the people around me to keep theirs alive as well," says Alaquiva.
In that spirit of community service, Alaquiva and Ya Momz House Studios are pairing up to celebrate the nomination with KDKA's 2007 Emmy nominee, John Cater. The happy hour, which benefits Rainbow Kitchen Community Services, takes place Fri., Sept. 7, at Downtown nightspot Olive or Twist.
"It is such an honor to bring professionals from all walks of life together in support of a local charity like Rainbow Kitchen Community Services," says Cater. "The fabric of Pittsburgh and the stories of its great dynamic of individuals have helped to pave the way for my success. This celebration of my most recent Emmy nomination would not be possible without them. And so we utilize this honor to garner attention to a worthy cause."
Rainbow Kitchen, located in Homestead, provides a variety of services ranging from anti-hunger programs to various holiday programs; a donation of non-perishable food is requested.
Emmy Nomination/Rainbow Kitchen Community Services Benefit Party. 5-8 p.m. Fri., Sept. 7. Olive or Twist, 140 Sixth St., Downtown. 412-255-0525