Myra Maimoh has always enjoyed the stage. She grew up in Cameroon and started performing at age 15. When she moved to Germany in 2011, she had the chance to record her first album. From there, her skills and experience led her to imagine bringing together artists from across Africa to showcase their gifts and talents to the world.
By the time Myra moved to the US, her life had taken off in multiple directions. She has now been married for seven years, is a mother to three children, and is refocusing on her passion of being a musician. As a performing artist, Myra identifies with the struggles of her fellow artists, and so uses her skills to help them with marketing and promotion. She also gathers musicians, poets, and food vendors to curate unique cultural experiences for small audiences. “God gives us music as inspiration. I see my music as conscious art that can be used to teach lessons,” says Myra. She adds that the intimacy of the setting allows for learning and immersion, fostering greater interaction from participants.
One of these events is entitled The Padiman Experience, as the word padiman means ‘friend’ in the Nigerian language of Pidgin. This experience provides an evening of music and storytelling with an audience of fewer than sixty-five people, and the setting easily creates the warm, friendly atmosphere Myra envisions.
Events like these are growing in popularity and demand, where Myra boasts that participants continue returning for future experiences. “We are blessed to have an 80% retention rate,” Myra says. “It’s very exciting.”
Yet even while audiences keep coming back, Myra continues to face challenges in spreading the word and broadening her following. Grand Rapids has a sizeable population of Africans from countries like Liberia, Kenya, and Senegal and this presents opportunity to build a base of clients with a small portfolio of artists. With major markets like Chicago and Detroit only a few hours away, Myra hopes to grow audiences while tapping into well-known artists with more significant followings.
Myra wears many hats as both a performer and talent manager, in addition to managing the business of coordinating events and working behind the scenes. Because of the diversity of her roles and her desire for growth, she sought help from SpringGR, a local partner of Partners Worldwide.
Training through SpringGR helped Myra set some practical goals, as well as become integrated into the local community. “Being in Grand Rapids—it’s about who you know,” she explains. “All of my experience had been with African companies, very little in the US.”
Grand Rapids is one place where Myra sees the chance to cultivate learning through music, food, and the arts. She envisions that this will not only help other native Africans, but contribute to the life of the community as a whole.