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Solomon Sisters Shed Light on D.C.’s Creative Economy

For more than a year, Ariam and Yodit Solomon have parlayed their media experience and love for music, culture, and the arts into Deux Sol, a renowned internet radio program that highlights local millennial creatives and affirms the District’s position as a viable incubator for the arts.

At this juncture in Deux Sol’s development, Ariam and Yodit, twin sisters of Ethiopian descent from Silver Spring, Maryland, have expressed a desire to feature, more consistently, women making moves in the District’s creative economy.

That vision manifested earlier this month when Priscilla Ward, writer and founder of BLCK N LIT, visited Deux Sol, broadcasting live from the Line Hotel in Northwest.

“What I liked about Priscilla’s story is that she represents a lot of women in our generation,” Ariam, 25, said as she spoke about the January 25 episode.

“She paid her dues in corporate America but knew she wanted to branch out and do her own thing. That’s relatable to our audience of millennial women who want to leave their 9-to-5 but have no road map.”

For nearly 40 minutes on a Friday evening, the Solomon twins spoke with Ward about her journey as a writer — but not before allowing her to weigh in on Oscar nominations for Black Panther and veteran director Spike Lee, and the latest controversy surrounding disgraced R&B singer and songwriter R. Kelly.

Female guests on previous episodes of Deux Sol include songstress Saba Abraha, and musical duo April + VISTA, acts that have introduced projects the Solomon twins have touted as groundbreaking within D.C.’s creative economy. Their most recent nod to women in the creative space reflects how, in a place like Washington, D.C., national politics often dictate how local art takes form.

Less than a week before Ward appeared on Deux Sol, tens of thousands of women converged on Freedom Plaza, less than three miles away from the Line Hotel, for the third annual Women’s March, an event initially coordinated in response to President Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral victory.

Ariam and Yodit, both of whom have attended previous iterations of the Women’s March, noted that District creatives, because they interact directly with elements of politics in the nation’s capital, develop art that speaks to the oppression less powerful groups experience, not only under the Trump administration but by way of D.C.’s reputation in the world.

“If you’re from the area, you’re always exposed to the history of D.C.’s music scene, but if you’re not, it gets over-casted by its political culture,” Yodit said. “But the art reflects the current condition so that political nature fuels the creative culture. A lot of times, people have used music as their outlet to comment on the conditions we face in this presidential administration. It fuels the counterculture that exists in D.C.”

In 2008, shortly after the start of gentrification that would eventually change the racial and economic dynamics of the District, President Barack Obama became the nation’s first Black president and spurred the movement of young professionals to D.C. These young people brought with them progressive ideas and unique musical and cultural tastes that, along with go-go, a genre of music indigenous to the District, would shape D.C.’s vibrant creative scene.

Upon their return to the D.C. area in 2015 after a four-year stint at Ithaca College in New York, the Solomon twins, then in their early 20s, had their first intimate encounter with the world that had been growing in their absence. That experience, they said, forced them to think deeply about D.C. as an entertainment hub on par with Los Angeles and New York.
It also inspired a YouTube series originally named AyoSolo TV, a combination of their first names and their family name.

However, once Ariam and Yodit decided to take their talents to radio, through a collaboration with FullServiceRadio.org, they changed the name of their program to Deux Sol, another play on their family name that means “two lights.”

As the pair continues their journey on the radio, they want to keep shedding light on topics and people of great significance to the listening public.

“You’re reminded that you have this opportunity to speak your mind and connect with other people through the internet,” Yodit said. “We’re at a point where we realize we have a platform and some influence. That’s what birthed our shift. Now we’re more mindful about that and see how people can use their platforms for positive change.”

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