Advisory Board

Kara Kharmah, Advisory Board

After Grad school, Kara worked as a small business marketing and branding consultant when she happily fell into singing back-up in a local blues band.  Thus, her love of music marketing was born.   She subsequently left the small business world to dive head first into the music biz.  After working for a short time on her own, Kara joined the team at national booking agency Simon Says Booking, where she headed the Publicity, Marketing and Venue Department, working over the years with such diverse artists as Freekbass, Max Creek, The Alchemystics, John Kadlecik,  The Chameleon Project, Roots of Creation, and many others, and also managing the circus punk band Bella’s Bartok.

More recently, Kara created PRIA Music Marketing with a vision to empower DIY bands and musicians by focusing on delivering hands-on music marketing marketing coaching, consulting and management services.  Some current and recent clients include Bella’s Bartok, Old Flame, Mamma’s Marmalade, Best Not Broken, Mikey Sweet, Fire in the Field, Workman Song, The Medicinal Purpose, Symfinity, People Like You, and Laura Vecchione.


Fran O’Connell,  Advisory Board

With a sound inspired by a melding pot of Americana, country, blues, and rock, Fran O’Connell discovered a love for music later than most. A graduate from Columbia University with a degree in Nursing, a Veteran, and a seasoned entrepreneur, O’Connell is no stranger to heartache, hard work, and the pursuit of the American Dream.   A Holyoke native, Fran has more than 30 years of experience in home health, hospice, dementia, and geriatric care. He founded O’Connell Care at Home, Inc., in 1987 and continues to manage the organization today.

All which have inspired the inception of The FrannyO Show, the musical moniker of O’Connell. The FrannyO Show has recorded two albums in Nashville with Rolling Stone acclaimed producer Jamie Kent. The most recent of which was inspired by O’Connell’s brother, David O’Connell, a fallen Holyoke Police Sergeant who passed away in 2016. Channeling the power of music to make a difference, these experiences have led O’Connell to the launch of Breaking The Silence, an annual benefit to help raise awareness and funds for suicide prevention.  O’Connell frequently tours with his band throughout the Northeast and is currently in the studio working on his third album.

Carla Racine: Advisory Board
Promoter, Publicist, Consultant, Editor In Chief
Carla moved to the valley in the early 90’s and quickly got swept into the vibrant music scene of Northampton Ma. From performing in short lived bands to working for multiple venues to assisting with the Northampton Music Festival, it always came back to the music. She kept her passion alive and active and in 2013 she started her own production company, Honey Pot Productions. The company was focused on supporting the development of and support of area bands. In 2014 “The Buzz, a music scene zine for the 413 and beyond” came into being. The magazine and all of her productions supported the unsigned, under managed, and under represented independent artist and band. Thru the years many magazines and shows were created and curated by Racine for the 413 area. Over 178 bands and 63 venues have been spotlighted. In 2016 the first of “The Buzz presents Local Honey” compilation Cds was created and released at a Winter Gala with performances by nearly all 12 bands on the compilation. With the growth of venues and arts in the valley Racine works as a consultant and is frequently asked to curate shows in over 7 area venues.

Stephanie (Stevie) Converse: Advisory Board

Stevie has performed on stages for the past 40 years. A staple of the local theater scene in the 1970’s, she lived in New York City throughout the 1980’s, living the theater life of acting lessons, singing in clubs and auditioning whenever she could. She even landed a part now and then. As a vocalist for Hot Lavender, an LGBT Swing Band, she played many venerable venues, including the Astor, the Plaza and Lincoln Center. Her day job as a shiatsu therapist and teacher gave her opportunities to travel to Europe and China. She was a founding board member of the national organization for practitioners of Asian bodywork therapies (AOBTA). When she returned to Valley in the 1990’s she started her own shiatsu school and sat on the board of the Northampton Center for the Arts. She was part of a professional cabaret group for five years and took her solo act throughout western Massachusetts. In mid-life, Stevie switched gears and became a Mount Holyoke College Frances Perkins Scholar. Upon graduation, she worked as a media activist for Free Press. Presently, she is an adjunct professor of communication at Holyoke Community College. She is also the faculty advisor to the HCC radio station, 103.5 WCCH.

Silvana Gravini: Advisory Board

Silvana Gravini, principal of Silvana.Net, is a small-business/marketing coach; graphic designer; Web site Designer and Developer (coder); Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Social Media professional.An early adopter to the Internet (created first professional site in 1996), Ms. Gravini has helpeda broad range of clients worldwide realize growth and profitability objectives on the Web.  Ms. Gravini’s work at Silvana.Net is informed by her earlier professional background, which includes extensive experience in advertising, marketing, sales, and business-ownership.  She has owned and operated several businesses (including a monthly newspaper, The Valley Comic News), managed sales teams for the Advocate Newspapers and BusinessWest, and was
Vice-President of a New Hampshire advertising agency supporting clients in the greater Boston
area.  Additionally, Ms. Gravini has extensive film/video experience in front of and behind the camera
as a commercial writer/producer, Host of a weekly television show and as talent in television
commercials and documentary projects nationwide.

Ms. Gravini is a founding member on the Board of Directors for Hidden-Tech, Inc., a
non-profit organization dedicated to improving the economic prospects and
quality of life for technology-enabled entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and small business
owners throughout Western Massachusetts and nearby regions.
Ms Gravini is an invited guest speaker and presentor for many small business related
organizations throughout the region such as: Isenberg School of Management at UMass;
Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network (MSBDC);  and numerous others.