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Raina James, Vendor #273

#273 Raina James

Those of you who read the story about Felicia Wilbert in the July issue of Groundcover already know that her daughter, Raina, has been recovering from a horrific shooting incident that occurred in Detroit.

Raina performs as Opulence Wade and has an album she recorded while recovering that is currently in post-production and is expected to drop in October. She and two other musicians have recently formed the group G.I.Y.A Erh and are working on recording projects together. Raina can sing soprano, alto and tenor. She also composes and arranges music, does sound engineering and handles the business side of music production. Click here to hear some of Raina’s songs.

Much improved since her trauma, Raina recently shared about her path to musicianship. It began when, as a nine-month-old baby, she discovered the cabinet of pots and pans in her grandmother’s new townhouse. Raina helped form a church youth choir for teens and a children’s choir when she was only 10 years old herself. They practiced with percussion performed with silverware on ice cream buckets and ashtrays, accompanied by Raina on keyboard.

By age 16, Raina began singing secular music – rhythm and blues, hip-hop, rap, and country. She sang backup for other groups and sold one of her beats for a commercial. Meanwhile, Felicia was in a bus accident and returned to Detroit to recover when Raina was 18. Observing that the local music scene came with some dangerous norms to which Raina was succumbing, Felicia intervened. Raina had been expelled from high school for fighting and was selling – but not using– drugs.

Felicia designated some of the money received as a settlement from the accident to pay for a college education for Raina, though Raina was happy with the life she had. Raina says, “My mom kicked my behind to get me out and go to college – literally. I wore a black eye to my first semester at Blue Sail University.”

Four years later, at age 26, Raina emerged with dual degrees in Music Production and Entertainment Business. Armed with an education and talent, she felt ready to support herself and start a family. She picked a man to father her child and was delighted when her son Malachi was born. It was on a visit to introduce the baby to the Detroit relatives that the shooting occurred.

The shooter is still at large and Raina suffers anxiety and nightmares. She hopes they will subside upon her impending return to Florida where she will mentally and physically heal, pursue music, look into modeling for Malachi and reunite Malachi with his father.