She was rushing down the crowded escalator, late for a performance at the Black Women’s Expo in McCormick Place in 2014.
âI turned to yell at them to hurry up. We had to get dressed before we continued,â said Dani Jo Williams. “I turn around, and instead of seeing my team, I see him. And I smile like, ‘Oh, hi.'”
âIt was love at first sight,â her husband, TL, joked about the seemingly ubiquitous slow-motion scenes in many ’90s romantic comedies. âI had the fan blowing all over me. You know, the fan, lights, everything. “
Finding herself backstage after his team’s dance performance and his headlining spot, Dani Jo said she was gushing at him. “I tell him how awesome he is. I’m a creative director and choreographer right now, so I’m giving him all these notes. And he’s like, ‘Do you want to take a picture?’ So we take a picture, and he says, “What’s your number so I can send it to you?” We haven’t stopped talking since. “
Last year, the Richton Park couple released a series of singles under their name RubyGld Smoke leading up to December’s debut album, âRevolutionary Love,â a feature film based on their love story.
On Friday they released “Getting in Love’s Way”, the second single from their soon to be released second album, “Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams”.
The song, which smoothly crosses pop and R&B territories, is in a way a throwback to the couple’s past.
âThis is the story of our whole generation, our story before we met,â TL said. âI think we could both admit that we were setting ourselves on the path of love. We were trying to make true love happen, but you don’t. True love finds you.â
âA lot of people want to find love so badly that they can just stand in their way,â added Dani Jo. “The song drops what I call nuggets for the person who wants to find love but just can’t find it right now. It’s like giving them the key.”
âWhether you’re too energetic or pulling the trigger of someone you know is right for you,â TL said. “Either way, you’re trying to make it easier. But you have to realize that God’s plan is greater than you and is always greater than your plan. Sometimes you just have to step back and let it happen.”
The upcoming second album focuses on couples’ dreams and what inspires them to do what they do, TL said.
âWe both grew up in families that really supported artistic dreams,â he said. âI grew up with parents who wanted to see me make music and who supported me, and Dani came from a family where her mother and father helped her pursue a career in music or dance and l ‘art. You don’t get much, so we are living the dreams of our parents and grandparents, who are all singers and dancers. “
Prior to creating RubyGld Smoke, Dani Jo choreographed and taught at Joffrey Ballet. In addition to his solo music career, TL had also studied and performed in Chicago’s Second City.
To convey this creative inspiration, the two founded Symphony of Change in 2016, a non-profit organization that contributes to arts education in Chicago public schools.
âWe started it to help evolve or advance arts education in schools to make arts education fit within the professional realm of the arts,â TL said. “Our intention is that when this happens, it brings more value to the school.”
The association is working on several initiatives, including the introduction of dance education in schools. The organization’s Citywide Music Program, which works in partnership with Columbia College, gives high school students the opportunity to learn music and gain mentorship from Columbia majors before performing in the Symphony of Change Symphonic and Jazz Band. . Music majors also use the mentoring program as part of a class project.
âIt’s really cool the collaboration that happened,â said Dani Jo. “They have the chance to perform at Columbia College and make an album which will be distributed by our label (Quiet Kingdom Recordings).”
Through the charity and the Quiet Kingdom Media Group, the Williams are reaching out through music and digital content creation, including filmmaking, for which they have won multiple awards.
But right now the focus is on music. The new album “Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams” is slated for release in mid-October, but RubyGld Smoke will be playing part of it this weekend at an intimate acoustic show at Villa Park.
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RubyGld Smoke’s GLD Members Only Chicago
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, September 25
Where: 331 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park
Tickets: $ 20 at rubygldsmoke.com