In 1799, Charlotte was the talk of the country and the central hub of new opportunities. People from all around the country and the world came in swarms to the Queen City when gold was discovered, marking the start of the American Gold Rush.
Since the end of the gold rush, Charlotte has been a sleeping giant waiting for more gold to awaken her from her slumber. That time has come, and the new gold is opportunity.
History is repeating itself and once again a flood of people are coming to Charlotte for new beginnings and endless possibilities. Dreamers, hustlers, trailblazers and gamechangers are emerging within the city from all different corners of life, just as the city’s newest professional team also emerges hoping to bring together this diverse community.
The following four individuals, highlighted as a part of Charlotte FC’s Community Kit Launch, epitomize what it means to be a Charlottean as they continue the legacy built by those before them.
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DJ Fannie Mae
DJ Fannie Mae, a North Carolina native from Raleigh, came to Charlotte because she had a dream. A dream to display her creativity and musical talents on a new stage and, more importantly, empower artists like her.
In 2013, she chose Charlotte strategically to be the launch zone of her legacy. However, before her Charlotte legacy commenced, she had to take a pitstop in Japan to hone her craft.
During her time in Japan, she lived amongst locals in Tokyo, immersing herself in the DJ scene of the city and absorbing every bit of it. Fusing her southern roots with this Japanese influence created Fannie’s signature sound which she is now using to bring people from all walks of life together in Charlotte.
“I really stand by the fact that music is the one thing that brings us all together, that music is a language of its own,” Fannie describes the unifying power of music.
With Charlotte being one of the fastest growing cities in the country, diversity within the city only continues to grow larger and larger. Fannie is excited about this growing diversity because it brings more artists with different ideas, which she is helping cultivate and showcase in her art shows.
“We started art shows that incorporated live music and art and I think that was the first stamp on the culture here, as far as creating an environment that was cultivating new and upcoming artists. It was really a space for us to all share and be free with each other.”
DJ Fannie Mae continues the legacy of the Charlotte dreamers who make their dreams a reality and propel others to do the same.
Lewis Donald, Sweet Lew’s BBQ
Lewis Donald is the owner of Sweet Lew’s BBQ. While he may be the boss, he is no stranger to the grind of everyday life. He wears many hats for his business and whether it’s as the cook preparing the meats in the morning, the accountant who balances the books, or the janitor who stays late cleaning up, Donald doesn’t shy away from the hustle.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Donald came to Charlotte in 2008 and never left. He spent much of his younger years moving around from place to place before falling in love with Charlotte and calling it home.
“Every couple years, I was moving, but this is the place I’ve lived the longest in, other than Cleveland, and so this is home to me,” Donald said. “I may be from Cleveland and have ties to the teams there but when it comes down to it, I’m a Carolina boy now and this is home to me. This is my address, Charlotte, North Carolina.”
Giving back to the community is one of Sweet Lew’s pillars and something that Donald doesn’t take lightly. Whether it’s employing local kids in the neighborhood, having food drives, or hosting fundraising events to raise money for worthy causes, Donald pours back into his community as much as he can.
Lewis Donald continues the legacy of the early risers who embrace the grind and hustle and are always present for the Charlotte community.
Greg Ross, SWAG Barber Shop
If anyone knows anything about adversity, it’s Greg Ross, co-founder and full-time barber at SWAG Barber Shop. The D.C. native got into trouble in his younger years and could never seem to get on track.
He had every intention of improving himself, but it seemed like no matter how hard he tried, old habits die hard. After hitting rock bottom repeatedly, Ross decided enough was enough and that perhaps a change of scenery would help his journey to become the best version of himself.
That’s when Charlotte came into the picture. Charlotte was the new beginning that Ross felt he needed, and he was right.
“In order to change the world, you must change yourself,” said Ross. “You’re a role model, especially if you have anyone around you who is younger than you. It’s your actions that define you.”
When Ross first heard about SWAG Barber Shop, it had only existed for a little over a month. The owner had responsibilities elsewhere and so Ross spent most of the time running the barber shop himself.
He was a major contributor to building up SWAG Barber Shop to where it is today. At the same time, Ross has used his story to be a positive influence on his kids and in the community around him. He uses his platform to show people that there are better paths in life and that they can achieve what they want no matter what age.
It’s not just Ross who is paving a way for others, but all of SWAG Barber Shop, which consists of barbers from all over the country who have come to Charlotte to start fresh and have a positive impact on their communities.
Greg Ross continues the legacy of paving a new path for future generations, rising above all trials and adversity.
Jeremy Chinn, Carolina Panthers
As a late bloomer, Chinn struggled to get scholarship offers to colleges coming out of high school. He managed to play with a college football program with no notable history of alumni in the NFL, Southern Illinois.
But Chinn never let any of the doubt dim his dream of playing in the NFL. He focused solely on working hard and performing to the best of his ability day in and day out. He knew that if he did, his chance would come, and he would be ready for it.
That day came when the Carolina Panthers believed in him and drafted him in the second round, 64th overall. Chinn went on to repay that belief with a stellar season as a staple player on the Panther’s defense and a Defensive Rookie of the Year nomination.
Chinn has fully embraced the Carolinas, the place and people that gave him a chance and believed in him. A perfect example of his appreciation for his new home was his gesture of wearing a Carolina sports legend’s jersey to every Panthers home game he could.
This gesture sparked from Chinn wanting “to learn about my new home in the Carolinas through sports and give back to the area and communities that have willingly embraced me.”
Jeremy Chinn continues the legacy of embracing the city proudly as his own, despite not being a Charlottean by birth.
'Despite each of these individuals coming from varying places, backgrounds, and experiences, there is one thing that ties them all together: Charlotte, the place where they continue their legacy and all call home.
That is the true essence of Charlotte, a city full of people with varying backgrounds who are unified by one city. A city that welcomes all, embraces the grind, cultivates creativity, and trailblazes on every front.
Continuing the Queen City’s legacy on the global stage is a club that was forged by the hands of Charlotteans, Charlotte FC. A club that fans can infuse with the essence of the city and show not just the country what they are made of, but the entire world.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make an impact on the Charlotte community for generations to come. Come mint history with us.