“Providence is my home and I plan to live and die here at the moment,” Roz Raskin, who fronts the “cosmic pop” band Nova One, told me via email in May. “I feel very connected to a special community of people here and I feel grateful to have met so many wonderful musicians during my time at RIC [Rhode Island College]. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about staying in Providence after high school, but now I think it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.”

Nova One is one of the featured performers of “Urban Carnevale,” a free online night of music and dance on Wednesday, Dec. 30, from 5 to 8 p.m. Organized by FirstWorks, the Providence nonprofit performing arts presenter, the evening concludes with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet performing their “Democracy! Suite.”

Nova One “explores youth, femininity, and gender through a moody 60’s pop lens,” FirstWorks writes. “Their most recent album, ‘lovable,’ is an album that explores the necessity of honoring the slowness of healing. It examines the importance of self-acceptance and the process of seeing and understanding one’s sexuality and gender presentation.”

“It has been an exhausting, but also rewarding journey to talk about pieces of my personal life,” Raskin writes. “I think it’s important to share some of this sometimes so people going through similar things can hopefully feel less alone.”

Before launching Nova One, Raskin played “a form of art rock” while fronting Roz and the Rice Cakes. “Nova One is entirely my vision whereas the Rice Cakes was a collaborative writing experience,” Raskin writes.

“Nova is my mom’s dog’s name,” Raskin writes. “Nova One represents a lot of things for me. One worth mentioning is that I think the name sounds like a spaceship or a space mission.”

Raskin grew up in Providence and studied at Rhode Island College. “My years at RIC studying feminism and queer studies,” Raskin writes, “absolutely altered the way I view the world and sometimes it does feel like this project is a kind of activism.”

For Nova One, Raskin has adopted a distinctive “hyper feminine” version of themself—peach wigs, black dresses, Leggs tights, heels. “I have been playing with wigs for a long time and the Nova One costume came out of doing costuming for my song ‘your girl,’” Raskin writes. “I think there is a certain level of escape that goes along with wearing costumes. There is something cathartic about performing in a sort of femme drag.”

Roz Raskin of the “cosmic pop” band Nova One. (Photos by Brittany Taylor)
Roz Raskin of the “cosmic pop” band Nova One. (Photos by Brittany Taylor)

Raskin also finds inspiration in teaching piano and songwriting, as well as their work with Girls Rock/RIOT RI. “When I first started volunteering with RIOT, I was completely unaware of how many awesome women, trans, and non-binary folks were making music in Providence,” Raskin writes. “Also, working with youth had been such an enriching part of my life the past 10 years or so. I like to think that I draw inspiration from my friends, their lives, their music, the scene we create together. I think I have learned a lot from being a part of the RIOT community.”

Coronavirus had shaken up plans. “The world has been twisted upside down,” Raskin wrote in May. “It’s a hard time indeed, tours cancelled, not able to play out in general. In some ways I do feel like the album has maybe reached more people that it would have since folks have more time to sit and listen these days.”

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Categories: Music