A Double Win at Battle of the Bands

By Daniele Berman, Operations Manager

(Originally published in the Durham Herald-Sun on Sunday, October 18, 2015)

For most people, a win at the Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands is a once-in-a-lifetime honor. But Keith Solademi has accumulated two wins of two very different kinds from the Battle.

By day, Keith works as a software engineer at Durham-based MetaMetrics, developing scientific measures of academic achievement and complementary technologies that link assessment results with real-world instruction. But his talents range beyond just his software engineering skills.

For three years, Keith has played the alto saxophone for The PsychoMetrics, a band comprised of musicians from MetaMetrics and supporting the nonprofit beneficiaries of the Battle of the Bands. This year, Keith and his colleagues prevailed, taking the coveted Hardcover Cup award for best band at the Battle and strutting their stuff and their musical stylings in support of Durham-based nonprofit Book Harvest. “I’ve always loved reading, so I am thrilled to have won while playing for Book Harvest,” says Keith,

But this isn’t Keith’s first — or most important — Battle win. In fact, it was at the 2013 Battle, benefiting East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), that Keith had his first big success. It was at that event that he first met Cate Elander, EDCI’s community engagement manager.IMG_20140817_103429

When the Battle had to be postponed due to weather, Cate shifted her volunteer responsibilities to sell raffle tickets to help fill a gap. Hours before the event started, Cate approached a couple sitting alone in a sea of empty chairs and attempted to sell them a raffle ticket. They shared that they were in town to see their son play the saxophone and pointed Keith out in the event program.

Impressed that his parents had traveled all the way from West Virginia, Cate found Keith after the Battle to congratulate him. She found him again on OkCupid later that week, and they met for a beer at American Tobacco. Cate and Keith were married on New Year’s Eve 2014.

The Triangle Corporate Battle of the Bands is about more than just good music. While the bands put on a good show and the crowd has a rocking good time, something even more important is happening: Lasting connections are being made between local nonprofits, corporate sponsors, and the community at large. Says founder and executive director of Book Harvest, Ginger Young, “Every single person in our community has a role in realizing Book Harvest’s big dream of books for all our kids. The Battle gave us a giant stage on which to share our vision.”

The Battle of the Bands is put on each year by the Durham-based ad agency McKinney and is the brainchild of Chief Operating Officer Joni Madison. “It is a way we can apply our creativity, talent, and craft to highlight a local and most deserving charity,” she said.

In nine years, the Battle has raised over a million dollars for local nonprofits while providing priceless exposure and raising awareness for a wide range of causes. This year’s “Battle for the Pages” raised $170,000 for Book Harvest, funds that will be used to make sure all children in the Triangle have bookshelves and bedside tables overflowing with stories to call their own.

And while not every band member will meet his or her future spouse at the Battle, the wins continue to accumulate with each year’s Battle.

The connections made among nonprofits like EDCI and Book Harvest, corporate bands which take the stage to do battle, numerous event sponsors, and over a thousand Battle attendees create beautiful music for causes vital to our community’s prosperity.