By Kayla Sosa
A Grand Rapids couple are in the process of bringing a wine and jazz bar to the city.
Coming from a background in education, Nadia and Shatawn Brigham want to offer something to the community that’s accessible and relaxing, but also breaking racial barriers within the industry.
“When you think about wine and the making of wine, there is a growing number of black and brown folks who are entering into this space, whether consumption, distributing, making their own wines and labeling their own wines,” Nadia Brigham said. “That’s exciting for us because it’s really about lowering these racial barriers in areas that the industry didn’t believe we were interested in.”
GR Noir is located at 35 South Division Avenue – at the corner of Division and Weston – and will be open in spring of this year.
“This is a response to the lack of venue that we’re offering to Grand Rapids, because it’s known as ‘Beer City,’” Shatawn Brigham said. “We want to provide an alternative to folks who may not drink beer or who may want a break from drinking beer.”
The space will feature a variety of seating options, a stage for live jazz two to three nights a week (the rest of the time jazz only will be played through speakers) and multiple bars.
Wine will be served in ounce pours, flights, by the glass and bottle. There will be a warming kitchen for serving charcuterie boards and “heavy hor dourves.”
The goal for GR Noir, the Brighams said, is to be a place for people to unwind and enjoy fine wine and relaxing sounds of jazz music.
“A space where people can breathe, make meaningful connections,” Nadia Brigham said. “It’s a space where people can exhale.”
Taking two “communal essences” – wine and jazz – GR Noir is a place for the community to interact. While there have been wine venues and jazz venues in Grand Rapids, GR Noir is a unique combination of the two.
“You can get beer everywhere,” Nadia Brigham said. “There are a handful of wine bars.”
The Brighams are especially excited to be trailblazing in an industry that typically is not majority black and brown owned, and knowing jazz music is something that African Americans gave to society.
“Jazz was born out of the most dire oppression of our ancestors in Congo Square in New Orleans where, on one day of the week, they could get together and make music,” Nadia Brigham said. “They gave jazz to the world and it totally revolutionized the world and revolutionized music to touch almost every genre of music.”
At GRNoir, The Brighams plan to play only jazz music with an intention to highlight local and little known musicians, as well as display jazz fusion music.
“It might have some jazz fusion,” Nadia Brigham said. “So the ways in which jazz has touched other genres of music but it will be unmistakably jazz.”
More information on GR Noir can be found on their Facebook page.