Editor’s note: During this unprecedented time, we’re highlighting the individual acts of kindness from our global seller community. Now through June, we’ll share a story about one of our sellers on how they’re paying it forward in our Mini Stories column.
Austin is a city renowned for its lively music scene, spanning every genre imaginable and hosting concerts by local and touring artists year-round. Yet with large gatherings currently banned due to the global pandemic, concerts are all being cancelled or postponed. To help change this overall tune of financial woe for performers, Rhea Kimbell, owner of Rosina Records, is donating 10 percent of her sales to nonprofits that are helping musicians through this difficult time.
With an eye to a broad spectrum of support, her proceeds have benefited nonprofits like the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), which provides access to affordable health care for low-income, uninsured working musicians, focusing on prevention and wellness; and MusiCares, which supports the health and welfare of the music community; among others.
Rhea has long been involved in the music community; indeed, her story pays homage both to the rich musical history of Texas and to her late father’s record label. Growing up with six siblings in San Marcos, Texas, and listening to all types of music throughout her childhood, Rhea knew from a young age that music would play a central role in her life. Her dad, Ruben Ruiz Sr., was a record producer and radio DJ. He founded the record label Rosina Records in 1962 and recorded over 250 songs from over 100 artists in Central and South Texas while the label was active until the early 1980s. “I had no idea of the scope of his label until I started promoting his recordings on eBay,” Rhea said.
For the past 10 years, Rhea has researched her father’s record label and legacy, reviving it and selling its records on eBay. When she brought her business onto the platform, eBay’s community of collectors immediately began reaching out to her with information about her dad and his record label, as well as stories of musicians, songwriters and bands he worked with.
“To find that this small local label my dad founded had touched the lives of people internationally was, and still is, mind boggling,” Rhea said. “I would never have known had it not been for the many collectors and artists among the eBay community.”
In addition to her donations, Rhea also enjoys lending a helping hand at one of her favorite organizations. “I volunteer my free time with HAAM,” Rhea said. “I appreciate the dedication, the mutual fellowship and the various services provided by HAAM to Austin musicians.”
Rhea alongside Austin musician Tomar Williams, a HAAM volunteer, the Peterson brothers and Kevin Russell.
As the futures of many Austin musicians become uncertain, Rhea believes that music will continue to provide happiness and relief in these tumultuous times.
“I love music. Music heals. Music gives back,” Rhea said.
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