Music, curls and learning to love yourself

One of the perks of my job as a salon owner and a manufacturer of a fab line of haircare products is that I constantly get to meet and work with some amazing women. Since this issue of Maine Women Magazine is about remarkable ladies doing remarkable things—I wanted to share the story of Viva.

Viva is an incredibly talented performer who exudes the kind of energy and confidence that makes the whole crowd have as much fun as she does. I met her last year at Portland House of Music during the Best of Portland Awards. We both have curly hair (which, if you don’t have curls, you may not know: this makes us automatic kindred spirits), and I asked her if she’d model for my curly hair care line, Controlled Chaos.

Since then, we have worked together on multiple occasions, and I’ve come to learn something about Viva that’s a common thread among us curly girls: She, too, had a complete lack of curl confidence through her formative years. She was the only mixed-ethnicity kid in her class and hated her hair until she was 20 years old. She’s tried super-short cuts, relaxers and extensions—which resulted in damage—all because her own coily locks made her feel self-conscious. We both belong to this sisterhood of curlies who can empathize with others, especially young girls who are experiencing low curl-esteem. And we want to be a part of helping to change the way the world looks at textured hair.

Viva became a professional jazz musician at 21, started production for Viva & The Reinforcements at 23, recorded her first full-length album just this month, and she is about to embark on an 18-month tour of the U.S. In her own words, she “wants to use music and performance to promote a positive body image, a strong sense of self, leadership, communication and to bring people together who would not otherwise become acquainted.” I can’t think of a better person to spread curl confidence and love to the masses, and I hope young girls will see her on stage looking beautiful and embracing her crazy, coily, full-of-personality hair—and be inspired to toss the chemicals, weaves and flat irons and trade them in for the love of CURLS.

To learn more about Viva, visit

Alanna York has owned Head Games Salon for Hair & Body, based in Portland, for 17 years. Her professional career began in the early 1990s when she discovered the passion and excitement that came from enhancing the natural beauty in all of her clients.

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